Can Creativity Be a Collective Virtue? Insights for the Ethics of Innovation

M. Astola, Andreas Spahn, Gunter Bombaerts, Lambèr Royakkers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Virtue accounts of innovation ethics have recognized the virtue of creativity as an admirable trait in innovators. However, such accounts have not paid sufficient attention to the way creativity functions as a collective phenomenon. We propose a collective virtue account to supplement existing virtue accounts. We base our account on Kieran’s definition of creativity as a virtue and distinguish three components in it: creative output, mastery and intrinsic motivation. We argue that all of these components can meaningfully be attributed to innovation groups. This means that we can also attribute the virtue of creativity to group agents involved in innovation. Recognizing creativity as a collective virtue in innovation is important because it allows for a more accurate evaluation of how successful innovation generally happens. The innovator who takes a collective virtue account of creativity seriously will give attention to the facilitation of an environment where the group can flourish collectively, rather than only nurturing the individual genius.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)907-918
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • collective virtues
  • Collective behavior
  • creativity
  • collective creativity
  • innovation
  • ethics


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