Fame Is Based More On The Company You Keep Than Your Creativity


NEW YORK, March 12, 2019 — Many of the world’s most creative people (think Thomas Edison, Pablo Picasso, and Steve Jobs) often achieve great fame. But does creativity alone translate into critical acclaim? New research by Paul Ingram, Kravis Professor of Business at Columbia Business School, finds that there’s another factor at play: social networks.

In the paper, “Fame as an Illusion of Creativity: Evidence from the Pioneers of Abstract Art,” Ingram and co-author Mitali Banerjee of HEC Paris, examine the link between fame, creativity, and social networks. By focusing on the implications of social ties on the level of fame achieved by 90 pioneering abstract artists (rather than famous scientists, musicians, or filmmakers) the researchers were able to determine how peer relationships facilitate inidual-level creative output, rather than team output.

Contrary to conventional literature, Banerjee and Ingram found that there was no statistical support for the relationship between an artist’s creativity and the fame they ultimately achieved. Neither an expert measure of creativity, nor a computational measure of an artist’s novelty, calculated through machine learning, mediated the relationship between an artist’s local network structure and their fame.

Furthermore, the researchers found that those iniduals who possessed a erse set of personal friends and professional contacts from different industries were statistically more likely to become famous. Those who had influential networks that overlapped or were more homogenous were, on the other hand, less likely to achieve wide-reaching fame.

For more information, please read the two-page research brief (PDF) compiled by Columbia Business School’s Jerome A. Chazen Institute for Global Business.  

About Columbia Business School
Columbia Business School is the only world-class, Ivy League business school that delivers a learning experience where academic excellence meets with real-time exposure to the pulse of global business. Led by Dean Glenn Hubbard, the School’s transformative curriculum bridges academic theory with unparalleled exposure to real world business practice, equipping students with an entrepreneurial mindset that allows them to recognize, capture, and create opportunity in any business environment. The thought leadership of the School’s faculty and staff, combined with the accomplishments of its distinguished alumni and position in the center of global business, means that the School’s efforts have an immediate, measurable impact on the forces shaping business every day. To learn more about Columbia Business School’s position at the very center of business, please visit www.gsb.columbia.edu.

SOURCE Columbia Business School

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