Professor Feinstein will be delivering a lecture at Maastricht University in September, entitled “Creative Guiding Conceptions.”


Professor Feinstein is teaching Statistics this Fall in the MBA and EMBA Cores.


The work on the number of undocumented immigrants has received a good deal of press coverage. Professor Feinstein was on the Fox & Friends morning news show on Tuesday, September 25 2018. He also had an interview with NPR Southern California Monday, September 24. Many other press organizations have cited the study, including the New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and Forbes. He and his coauthors also published an Op-Ed in the New York Daily News.


Professor Feinstein is working on a formal model of creativity in which guiding conceptions help individuals identify fruitful creative ideas and projects. The model brings together his intuitive and conceptual approach with a formal model of the elements in a field.  A specific focus is how richer environments require richer guiding conceptions.


 Watch Professor Feinstein's talk "Creativity & Complexity" at IMCIC in March 2015 here: .  He discusses individual creative development, and  modeling the creative development of fields. 


Read Professor Feinstein's blog on Creative Development for the Tory Burch Foundation:




Jonathan Feinstein studies creativity, specifically creative development. While it is common to focus on the moment of inspiration as the essence of creativity, he takes a more encompassing and organic approach, studying how creativity and innovation are generated through an unfolding process. His work focuses on understanding how an individual or team forms a guiding creative conception which guides them — exploring, pursuing creative projects. As the process continues, their conception itself evolves, triggering further ideas — and ultimately they are able to produce highly creative outcomes.

 Professor Feinstein is the author of The Nature of Creative Development which describes the process of creative development with many examples drawn from a wide range of fields. His work extends from individual creativity to the study of the development of fields, in his paper "The Creative Development of Fields" published in 2017 in the Journal of the Knowledge Economy.

His current work is developing formal models illuminating how guiding conceptions help individuals navigate creatively in complex fields of creativity, enabling them to to spot new opportunities, make novel creative connections, and make contributions.

Professor Feinstein is committed to nurturing true creative development in educational and professional settings.  His class Creativity & Innovation is a longstanding favorite at Yale and has been featured in several media stories.  He lectures regularly on how to foster creative development in the classroom, focusing on unleashing creative development through exercises and sharing.  

Another aspect of his approach is his view that many creative links go unrecognized and unappreciated:  In the winding path of a person's creative development there are many influences that are not evident in that person's ultimate creative work but were essential to its creation.

Beyond his work on creativity, Professor Feinstein is an expert in tax compliance, detection, and models of auditing and compliance. His contributions in this area include the econometric model detection controlled estimation, which has had considerable practical application, game theory models of compliance and auditing, and a widely cited review of the tax compliance field. He is also the author of a well known review of the relationship between socioeconomic status and health.

Image by Ariel Feinstein

Image by Ariel Feinstein

Recent Papers

The number of undocumented immigrants in the United States: Estimates based on demographic modeling with data from 1990 to 2016, (with Mohammad Fazel Zarandi and Edward Kaplan), 2018, PLoS ONE.


 The Creative Development of Fields: Learning, Creativity, Paths, Implications  is published in the Journal of the Knowledge Economy, 2017.   In the paper I construct a model of the creative development of a field through the series of creative contributions individuals make. It links economics with the field of knowledge representation. 


Diversity, knowledge clusters, and job placement: Graduate economics teaching of core Microeconomics (with Arthur Campbell, Soonwok Hong, Sharon Qian, and Trevor Williams), The Journal of Economic Education, 2017.