Creative Problem Solving Styles In The Usa And Japan

3597 words - 15 pages

Creative problem-solving styles in the USA and Japan

The Authors

Paul Herbig, Texas A&M International University, Laredo, Texas, USA, and

Laurence Jacobs, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii


Explores the cultural differences between Japan and the USA as they influence in the practice of creativity. Western logic reflects its Cartesian heritage of a clear, linear path of reasoning or the “scientific method”. The western approach to creativity is innovation through sponteneous originality. The Japanese approach, by contrast, is through the adaptive process. Implementing the innovation for effective production and marketing is their greatest strength. ...view middle of the document...

The ability to create meaningful new forms, interpretations, etc.: originality. The process by which one utilizes creative ability (p. 319).
Kao (1991) suggests that creativity may be defined as:
(I)t is a human process leading to a result which is novel (new), useful (solves an existing problem or satisfies an existing need), and understandable (can be reproduced (p. 14).
Nierenberg (1982) adds:
Knowledge consists of three basic elements: structure, order and relation... In order to expand our creativity, it is necessary to consider each of these terms individually and understand how in our own problem solving we may habitually neglect one or more of them while we restrict ourselves to using the remaining factors over and over (pp. 37, 39).
He defines these components as:
• Order - we see what we want to see.
• Relation - we see what suits our purposes.
• Structure - we see what our background has prepared us to (p. 45).
Ned Herrmann (1990) discussed in depth the concept of brain dominance. He postulated that the brain is composed of four separate and distinct quadrants each with its “own language, perceptions, values, gifts and ways of knowing and being”. These four are:
• logical-analytical (learn by studying, using factual information);
• planned-organized;
• holistic-intuitive (creative/moody, learn through actual experience); and
• emotional-interpersonal.
Each quadrant is, in its own way, equally effective. The brain, Herrmann said, possesses elements of each quadrant and each person has a unique composite of differing modes.

Creativity in a business (or managerial) context

There are many ways of achieving creative solutions. No one approach is necessarily better than another. Managers usually pursue the creativity style that is most comfortable for them.

Adaptive and innovative creativity

Kirton (1976) suggests that there are two principal types of problem-solving creativity: adaptive and innovative (see Figure 1). These two approaches are presented as opposite ends of a continuum. In practice, most managers embody a combination of these components. At issue, however, is which side dominates.
While the extremes may be in conflict (see Table I), as noted above, most managers use a combination of these extremes. An interesting feature is that there is also a national or cultural proclivity towards one side or the other. In this article, we examine the US style of creative problem solving as contrasted with the Japanese style.
Creativity involves both problem finding and problem solving. Creativity requires many talents and skills. Creative thinking is usually unconventional, requiring the modification or rejection of previously accepted ideas. The creative person usually reflects the following abilities:
• accepts conflict by tolerating bipolarity and integrating opposites;
• has a capacity to be puzzled, can accept tentativeness and uncertainty and is not afraid of the...

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