The lesson from this research into covert research—also known as “bootlegging”—is clear: do not even try to organize the early stages of innovation through formal processes. Interviews at 70 European companies reveal that organizing for creativity is impossible to tackle without contravening one or another organizational protocol. Consequently, it is recommended that managers abandon the arguments over control versus freedom to leave creativity and early innovation where it belongs: in the chaotic, messy and wild terrain of the corporate underground. Management should accept that innovative output emerges from the hidden life of corporations and, moreover, that it is more often than not in line with overall corporate strategy. The research shows that both organizational bureaucracy and the underground world co-exist and interact positively; hence, the long-running debate about how to integrate creativity into the formal organization becomes moot.
Volume 51, Issue 4, July-August 2008