S1E5: Noah Askin on How Networks Impact Creativity

Noah Askin is an Assistant Professor at INSEAD. His research is on social and cultural networks and how they drive creativity and innovation, particularly in the music industry. He also teaches organisational design and leadership and focuses mostly on corporate culture and organisational change.

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In this episode we:

  • Discuss his research on musicians and what impacts their creativity
  • Talk about the trade-offs around organisation design, formal and informal structures
  • Learn about Brokerage and the problems that closed networks cause
  • Explore a clever idea he’s using to expand his network during lockdown



  • Noah shares his favourite band, My Morning Jacket. What makes them so influential for him personally? [1:42]
  • Heavily influenced by the role of networks in his life and research, Noah reflects on perspective [3:28]
  • How does modern technology allow researchers to quantify, analyse, and compare recorded music? What draws Noah to this research? [7:10]
  • How does Noah use musical data combined with artist metadata to understand creativity? What kind of understandings are we able to draw from this newly available data? [8:26]
  • What does this research expose about gender dynamics within the music industry? [09:08]
  • What does Noah say to those who are sceptical about quantifying creativity? [11:05]
  • How does context impact creativity? How can this be applied to musical creative output? [12:38]
  • Noah explores a case study: Stevie Wonder in the context of closely structured Motown vs. experimental crossover projects.  [14:21]
  • What is Noah’s approach to understanding organisational design and the tradeoffs associated with different structures? [16:20]
  • How are the concepts in Noah’s research received by his students at university? [20:09]
  • What is a “broker” in the context of networks? Why is there aspiration for this role? [21:30]
  • Bluebox: Erica takes a moment to explore structural holes, detailing their role in the conversation of brokers. [24:03]
  • Noah shares how his research has impacted his life [26:20]
  • How did Noah develop his professional and personal network when moving from the US to France? [29:03]
  • How Noah thinks about networks in the context of raising children [30:33]
  • Who was a pivotal network broker in Noah’s life? [32:13]
  • Where to find Noah online [35:55]
  • See how Noah expanded his network during the Coronavirus pandemic [36:22]


Connect to Noah Askin – Website | LinkedIn | Twitter