The collaboration-association tradeoff: How women in the work environment influence men’s creativity

This event is hosted in partnership by the University of Edinburgh Business School, Edinburgh Futures Institute, and the PEC.

When:  Tuesday 8th June 2:00pm - 3:15pm
Where:  Virtual event
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Despite no evidence of difference in the creative abilities of men and women, female artists remain underrepresented and unequally recognised across the creative professions. Research on this topic has emphasised how audiences, critics, and other gatekeepers discriminate against women, but it has not fully explained the complex relationship between gender and creative production.

Using an exhaustive and original dataset comprising nearly 250,000 commercially recorded songs that were written and released by 15,000 unique artists worldwide between 1955 and 2000, we construct a quantitative measure of musical creativity to test how the gender composition of artists’ work environment shapes the relative novelty of their creative products.

After controlling for a host of factors, we find that women produce significantly more novel music than men. Moreover, the co-presence of female artists can simultaneously enable (through network diversity) and constrain (through perceived status threat) male creativity. These results suggest a collaboration-association trade off, shedding new light on the role and consequences of gender diversity for the creative careers of both men and women.

About the Speaker

Noah Askin is an Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD, where he teaches the organisational design and leadership core course in the MBA program. His teaching focuses primarily on firms’ organisational-strategic alignment, leading and experiencing organisational change, managing corporate culture, and utilizing social networks.

Noah is interested in social and cultural networks, the antecedents and consequences of creativity and innovation, the production and consumption of culture, and the dynamics of organisational and individual status. His work, which has garnered him recognition on the Thinkers50 Radar list, has appeared in Administrative Science Quarterly, computational social science publications, and been covered in Forbes, Quartz.com, The Times of London, and music industry blogs.

Prior to becoming a business school academic, Noah had a number of roles in the business and not-for-profit sectors. He was a management consultant for the Monitor Group, working in its strategy practice and Executive Development group. This was followed by several years as an early member of a start-up in the educational services space. Noah received a joint PhD from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and its Sociology department. He also has an MA in Sociology from the University of Chicago and an MBA from Booth, as well as an AB in Psychology from Harvard University.

The lecture is hosted in partnership by the University of Edinburgh Business School, Edinburgh Futures Institute, and the Policy and Evidence Centre. There will be the opportunity to contribute to the online question and answer session.



Image by Kyre Song