The Other Innovation Guru at Harvard Business School

by Drew Boyd

Dr. Teresa AmabileA colleague asked me, “Who is that innovation guru at the Harvard Business School?”

That’s easy: Dr. Teresa Amabile

Dr. Amabile heads the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School and is the only tenured professor at a top school to devote her entire research program to the study of creativity. She is one of the world’s leading voices in business innovation. From Wikipedia:

  • “Originally educated and employed as a chemist, Dr. Amabile received her Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University in 1977. Originally focusing on individual creativity, Dr. Amabile’s research has expanded to encompass team creativity and organizational innovation. This 30-year program of research on how the work environment can influence creativity and motivation has yielded a theory of creativity and innovation; methods for assessing creativity, motivation, and the work environment; and a set of prescriptions for maintaining and stimulating innovation. Her current research program focuses on the psychology of everyday work life: how events in the work environment influence subjective experience and performance. Before joining HBS, Dr. Amabile held several research grants as a professor at Brandeis University, including Creativity and Motivation, from the National Institute of Mental Health, and Downsizing Industrial R&D, from the Center for Innovation Management Studies. She was awarded the E. Paul Torrance Award by the Creativity Division of the National Association for Gifted Children in 1998.

    Dr. Amabile has presented her theories, research results, and practical implications to various groups in business, government, and education, including Lucent Technologies, Procter & Gamble, Novartis International AG, and Motorola. In addition to participating in various executive programs, her main teaching assignment at Harvard Business School is an MBA course, Managing for Creativity. Dr. Amabile was the host/instructor of Against All Odds: Inside Statistics, a 26-part instructional series originally produced for broadcast on PBS. She currently serves as a Director of Seaman Corporation.

    Dr. Teresa AmabileDr. Amabile is the author of Creativity in Context and Growing Up Creative, as well as over 100 scholarly papers, chapters, and presentations. She serves on the editorial boards of Creativity Research Journal, Creativity and Innovation Management, and Journal of Creative Behavior.”

For innovation practitioners, I recommend reading her articles:

  • Amabile, Teresa M., and Mukti Khaire. “Creativity and the Role of the Leader.” Harvard Business Review 86, no. 10 (October 2008)
  • Amabile, T. M. “Entrepreneurial Creativity Through Motivational Synergy.” Journal of Creative Behavior 31 (1997): 18-26.
  • Amabile, T. M. “Attributions of Creativity: What Are the Consequences?” Creativity Research Journal 8, no. 4 (1995): 423-426.

Teresa Amabile has been shaking up the world of creativity and innovation for over 30 years. Now THAT’s disruptive!


Drew BoydDrew Boyd is Director of Marketing Mastery for Johnson & Johnson (Ethicon Endo-Surgery division). He is also Visiting Assistant Professor of Marketing and Innovation at the University of Cincinnati and Executive Director of the MS-Marketing program. Follow him at www.innovationinpractice.com and at http://twitter.com/drewboyd

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