This practice-led thesis from Mike Hutcheson examines the concept of creativity in the context of

This practice-led thesis from Mike Hutcheson examines the concept of creativity in the context of contemporary New Zealand business. Drawing on interviews with significant New Zealand business leaders and existing literature, it considers how creativity is fostered, if it exists as a distinctively national phenomenon, and if so, how.


Paradox comprises two complementary components. The first is a 30-minute video documentary that constructs interviews with four prominent creative business people. This text is designed specifically for non-commercial television broadcast, online or intranet video and business or business school audiences.


The documentary is accompanied by a series of three short video podcasts (for online viewing by business and business school audiences). These podcasts reconstitute key insights from the interviews.  The 30-minute documentary is produced for broadcast to business audiences, and the vodcasts are created for online viewing, appealing to a younger, primarily student, audience


A quote from the project gets to the heart of the questions central to this thesis: “The mystery is why a country that seems close to best practice in most policies that are regarded as the key drivers of growth is nevertheless just an average performer.”


Arguably then, there is a disparity between what many New Zealanders recognise as good ideas and their ability to build them into scalable businesses, capable of being taken further afield.  The question one might ask is, why?


A number of writers have considered successful business innovations in New Zealand, often alluding to a seemingly innate cultural propensity for, and facility with, innovation. However, Hutcheson suggests assumptions based on cultural myths warrant deeper consideration. Having worked for more than 40 years at the intersection of business and innovation, he is himself interested in re-examining the nature of creativity in business from the perspective of successful practitioners.
Assumptions based on cultural myths like “Kiwi ingenuity” and “Number 8 Wire”can be problematic without deeper analysis. They suggest that some form of verification is required, either through statistical analysis or examination through case studies.

The documentary is introduced with the presenter’s “piece-to-camera”. This cuts away to animated statistics that are designed to reinforce his voice over. The presenter then returns to pose the question central to Paradox:  “Why, if New Zealand ranks so highly on scales of inventiveness and innovation, is that initiative not translated into global application?

The reason behind showing the presenter is to establish credibility, but also to humanise the documentary through ‘direct address’. The use of direct address coupled with the plural pronoun ‘We’ creates an inclusive connection with the viewer, suggesting they are involved in a private conversation.

To enhance the viewer’s connection with the interviewees, the video was shot almost entirely in mid-shot and close-ups. The closeups are particularly effective in the final segment of the documentary because they bring the interviewee’s heads full-frame to add emphasis to their narratives

By redesigning information from the research into material for online environments, Hutcheson sought wider dissemination of the ideas. The decision to employ vodcasting over a web presentation was taken because vodcast text is presented in a distilled, uninterrupted flow. The created artifacts consciously bring expert business experience to the discussion and they are constructed to speak to both the profession and the academy through the spatiotemporal media forms. In addition this exegesis, as an extension of Hutcheson’s concern with the effective design of information, seeks to reconstitute the designed academic voice so it is concurrently accessible to professionals.

Centre for Design Research
Te Kura Toi a Hoahoa
School of Art and Design

Te Wānanga Aronui o Tāmaki Makau Rau,
Auckland University of Technology


Susan Hedges
Mandy Smith

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© Centre for Design Research, AUT University 2021