Skip to main content


Designing the collective context for ideation in SMEs: A social capital perspective

Organisation Studies

Speaker:Graham Perkins, University of Exeter Business School
Date: Wednesday 28 January 2015
Time: 14:00 - 16:00
Location: Building One: Pearson Teaching Room

Further details



Ideation is important for the success of all organisations, particularly small-medium enterprises (SMEs).  Many definitions of ideation and creativity more broadly, consider it a social phenomenon, with conceptualisations and discussions of collective creativity appearing in extant literature.  Although the social nature of ideation is recognised, questions remain about how organisations go about designing an internal context which supports maximum ideation, particularly in the case of smaller firms.  The aim of this paper is to explore this issue utilising the dimensions of social capital (structural, relational and cognitive).  Supported by empirical evidence from a diverse range of SMEs, this paper argues that the dimensions of social capital act as an integrative force inside SMEs.  By permitting freedom, divergence and risk whilst aligning creative effort through the structuring of internal ties, growing a ‘bond’ within the workforce and exploiting the roles of organisational visions and cultures it is argued that SMEs are able to maximise idea production.  In this way this paper develops existing understandings regarding the design of organisational environments that maximise ideation, as well as providing practical advice for leaders and managers of small firms.  Further research directions are also considered.