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Distribution of productivity

According to Dennis (1955) who examined the distribution of productivity in seven domains, across all these domains 10 percent of the creative workers contributed roughly 50 percent of all the work, 61 percent of the contributors made only one contribution each, and the single most prolific creator in each discipline is credited with 9 percent of the total. The most prolific creator in a given domain tends to be 57 times as productive as the least productive creators.

The same is true for other domains such as classical music. Moles (1958) showed that the top 10 composers give us 40 percent of the masterworks, while the top three composers - Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach - offer about 6 percent each or almost 20 percent taken together. In sum, fewer than 1 percent of the composers with extant compositions provide most of the classical repertoire.

Unequal distribution of productivity is described by Lotka's law and Price's law. The validity of these laws has been confirmed for various cultural domains and historical periods. As Simonton (1984: 81) concludes, "The inequality of productivity revealed in the highly skewed distribution of creative output is an undeniable law of historiometry."

Distribution of productivity. Dictionary of Creativity: Terms, Concepts, Theories & Findings in Creativity Research / Compiled and edited by Eugene Gorny., 2007.
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