You Never Get One Isolated Great Thinker at a Time

Sociologist Randall Collins on Creativity Clusters and the Importance of Good Questions

Randall Collins’ curiosity about where ideas come from led him to do 25 years of research on the networks that connected thinkers and ideas through history and across continents. Collins, an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, presented these networks and the implications of his study in a 1998 book called The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change. We interviewed him about his work and what it implies for people and organizations who want to create and popularize new ideas.

Q: What did your …