Functional Creativity is different from Creativity in the World –

Creativity in the world” is the individual creativity that exists when each human being is exercising his freedom, thinking and acting in the realm of human affairs, whose condition is plurality. In this post we approach the creativity we call functional, so that we can distinguish it from the previous one, and we can try to understand some ideas and applications about this creativity characterized by its instrumentality. In terms of the fundamental human activities characterized by Hannah Arendt, in her work “The Human Condition”1, as labor, work and action, the concepts and theories of economics and management related to creativity have been framed by labor and work and not by action and its condition of plurality.

We call here “functional creativity” to the creativity that appears in the establishment of functions between the generation of new ideas and works, knowledge and talent of the individuals and the corresponding productivity of labor and growth in the economy. It is the creativity that is usually found in writings and research on creativity in which it is used as another instrument for explaining the functioning of economies or organizations in different contexts.

There are many approaches in the scientific literature of economics and management to understand the functional relationships between creativity and labor, work and life in the workplace, both at the corporate level and at regional or national level. This creativity is also referred in other ways as, for example, “creative imagination”, innovation, human capital, “creative classes”, “creative cities”, etc. These studies aim to reduce reality until the establishment of functions between the generation of ideas, new works, the existence of labors with certain knowledge, skills and competences and the corresponding growth in the economy.

That is, the variable creativity is usually associated with the knowledge and talent of individuals in the functional explanation of the increase of wealth. And making this instrumental use of creativity is not the same as considering creativity as the action of initiating something original and unexpected in the world that happens in a process with individual thought, in the way we address it in what we call “creativity in the world”.

What do you think about this? Don’t you think that this distinction between “functional creativity” and “creativity in the world” helps us to better understand what we labor on, what we make and create in life and in the world? Everyone needs to use their Individual Creativity to be better in life, in the family, business and other organizations, and in the world, in those human affairs that concern everyone and for which there is no common measure or denominator that can be invented.

Filipe Novais, Porto, Europe.

Note: This is part of a Text I wrote and presented at a management and arts conference in 2018, titled “Creativity in the World and Leadership in Organizations” (22 pp). If you want to read the Text, I can email it if you contact me to

1. Arendt, Hannah, “The Human Condition”, Ed.1998 (1st ed.1958). The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Image: Josef Albers, Study for Homage to the Square: Beaming; 1963; Tate, London.

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