While audiences play a key role in the implementation and ultimate success of novel ideas, how audiences are reflected in negotiations about quality within the creative process remains under-theorized. We examine this question through a comparative ethnography of two settings where the use of digital technology magnifies the countless micro-decisions involved in producing a creative output and therefore considerations of audience evaluation throughout the creative process—Nashville music production and systems biology cancer research. We find that actors encounter a fundamental tension between two competing standards of quality: the technically perfect, processed and ideal versus the empirically grounded, unprocessed and real. We show how actors navigate this tension vis-á-vis three different audiences—internal peers, extended community, and external reviewers—and how this manifests differently across audiences and the arts and sciences, depending on the audience’s expertise. Our study illuminates the tension between the “ideal versus real” in creative processes that is brought to the fore when creating with digital technology, extends extant research on audiences and organizing for creativity, and offers unique insights from our comparative ethnography across the arts and sciences.
|Title of host publication||Research in the Sociology of Organizations|
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 2021|