Go to JKU Homepage
Institute of Organization Science
What's that?

Institutes, schools, other departments, and programs create their own web content and menus.

To help you better navigate the site, see here where you are at the moment.


This project investigates the role of entrainment in creative projects. This means that processes or activities that contribute to a creative project are synchronized, i.e., brought into line with each other in terms of time. In organizational research, it is typically assumed that synchronized processes are more efficient, so that, for example, environmental fluctuations can be responded to in a timely manner and a production bottleneck can be avoided. However, creative projects are less about efficiency and more about the exploration of new and valuable ideas. The creation processes of these ideas have their very own temporality - often they cannot be planned according to calendar and time. Too much synchronization along organizational or regulatory structures may then be at the expense of creativity. At the same time, however, time pressure can of course also accelerate the emergence of ideas - after all, we have all experienced the creativity-enhancing effect of deadlines. This project aims to investigate the temporality of creative projects in more detail. It starts with the assumption that entrainment can indeed be creativity-enhancing in some phases of a creative project, e.g., when schedules can be used to achieve a focused, intense level of activity to complete processes. In other phases, however, it may be important to decouple activities from each other and from external temporal structures (something we call "detrainment") to create space for idea development. The research question is: What organizational practices of de/entrainment affect creativity and how?

Based on this question, the project pursues four contributions to a theory of the temporal structuring of creative projects. First, creative production cycles in two fields, music and pharma, will be systematically recorded. Secondly, a practice-theoretical understanding of entrainment will be developed on this basis, which focuses on the role of the acting actors who actively structure their work processes in terms of time, whereby practices of detrainment will also be elaborated. Third, the role of different materialities (objects, spaces, technologies, etc.) in creative processes as contributors to temporal structures will be investigated. Last, and in sum, a comparison of different creative projects in art and science will be used to elaborate propositions that theorize de/entrainment as a form of organizing creative projects.

Methods: Since there is no existing theory on the role of entrainment in creative projects, this project is exploratory in nature and uses ethnographic methods to collect detailed, qualitative, long-term data on the development of creative projects over time. In each of the two fields of inquiry, music and pharmaceuticals, two project ecologies are examined in which multiple creative projects are pursued in parallel. Some of these cases have already been researched, so a true long-term study is possible.

What's new: While the temporal complexity of creative projects within and between organizations has been highlighted many times, hardly any study so far has investigated practices of de/entrainment) of creative processes and their impact on creativity.

Project partners: Prof. Gernot Grabher (HafenCity University Hamburg), Prof. Jörg Sydow (Freie Universität Berlin).


Contact person

Prof. Elke Schüßler

Project staff

Benjamin Schiemer


12/2020 - 06/2024