This special issue explores the paradoxes caused by the challenge of managing and organizing creativity in the cultural economy. Conventional views of the individual creative artist are replaced by a view of creativity as a social process embedded within organizational and institutional contexts. The cultural economy is broadly defined in terms of breadth of industries included and depth elements of the cultural production chain. The paper next examines paradoxical practices of the special issue papers in terms of managing creative personnel and managing creative processes. Paradoxes grounded in difference, distance, globalization and identity provide a framework for reviewing each special issue paper's findings on how cultural industry participants, whether individuals, organizations or communities of participants, balance, and as often integrate, competing demands of creative and routine work. The paper concludes with recommendations for more comparative cultural industry research into the personnel, work and management practices employed for managing and organizing creative work and creative workers. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.