Game Changer: The Topology of Creativity

de Vaan, Mathijs; Stark, David C.; Vedres, Balazs

This article examines the sociological factors that explain why some
creative teams are able to produce game changers—cultural products
that stand out as distinctive while also being critically recognized as
outstanding. The authors build on work pointing to structural folding—the
network property of a cohesive group whose membership
overlaps with that of another cohesive group. They hypothesize that
the effects of structural folding on game changing success are especially
strong when overlapping groups are cognitively distant. Measuring
social distance separately from cognitive distance and distinctiveness
independently from critical acclaim, the authors test their
hypothesis about structural folding and cognitive diversity by analyzing
team reassembly for 12,422 video games and the career histories
of 139,727 video game developers. When combined with cognitive distance,
structural folding channels and mobilizes a productive tension
of rules, roles, and codes that promotes successful innovation. In addition
to serving as pipes and prisms, network ties are also the source
of tools and tensions.



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Also Published In

American Journal of Sociology

More About This Work

Academic Units
University of Chicago Press
Published Here
March 5, 2015