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On Creativity: A Case Study of Military Innovation

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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My aim is to present a view on how military creativity and innovation occur, a view that draws on four lines of creativity research. This thesis explores whether factors found to influence creativity in this wide field of research can help explain military innovation. Although creativity research has roots in the military, it currently follows a different path than military innovation studies. While the creativity research drinks from a well of knowledge shared by the fields of psychology, neuroscience, organizational behavior, education, management, and so forth, the authors of military innovation studies develop concepts and theories in relative isolation. The thesis uses a descriptive case study approach, and formulates a theoretical framework to describe the conditions that set the stage for creativity and innovation onboard the USS Nimitz. Guided by the framework, this case study shows that there are strong forces in the Navy resisting change and defending the status quo. Still, it is possible to outmaneuver the hierarchy and bring ideas and suggestions straight to the commanding officers attention. Faced with a rigid, conservative culture, USS Nimitz managed to create a climate of intrinsic motivation where individuals believed their ideas could make a difference and acted on those beliefs.

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