Hints From Academia: Teams & Creativity

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team work innovation

In an organizational setting much of creativity occurs in the context of a team. Therefore, how individuals relate to others on their team may be very relevant to their own creativity. Interestingly enough, while we make a lot of assumptions about this, there is not a lot of concrete research. But two particularly interesting articles in this area come to mind and offer excellent insights.

In the first piece, Why Seeking Help From Teammates Is a Blessing and a Curse: A Theory of Help Seeking and Individual Creativity in Team Contexts, the authors, Jennifer S. Mueller and Dishan Kamdar, explore whether help seeking is positivity related to ones own creativity. Using data collected from a large multi-national corporation they find that while seeking help from team mates can result in creative performance, creativity is sometimes limited because people often feel the need to reciprocate help. Clearly seeking help is both a blessing and a curse.

In another article What Goes Around Comes Around: Knowledge Hiding, Perceived Motivational Climate, and Creativity, the authors, Matej Černe, Christina G. L. Nerstad, Anders Dysvik, and Miha Škerlavaj, examine an unfortunate reality of organizational life: employees often retain information from their coworkers rather than offering help. This creates a distrust loop. It has major negative implications for organizational creativity and innovation.

Taken together these pieces provide real hints as to why it is essential for innovation leaders to create a team environment of safety and trust.

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Hints from Academia is BLG’s effort to highlight those academic pieces we feel offer special insights and guidance to the world of practice. 

Hints from Academia: The Impact of Culture on Creativity

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creativityIn dealing with creativity in an organizational context one of the themes academics have struggled with in their research is how to understand the impact of culture, specifically national culture, on individual creativity. To draw this link has been especially problematic, but in the article The Impact of Culture on Creativity: How Cultural Tightness and Cultural Distance Affect Global Innovation Crowdsourcing Work the researchers (Roy Y. J. Chua, Yannig Roth, and Jean-Francxois Lemoine) have suggested a very fundamental and clear cut linkage between “cultural tightness” (meaning: “the extent to which a country is characterized by strong social norms and low tolerance for deviant behaviors”) and creativity.

They find that individuals from tight cultures are less likely to successful engage in “foreign creative tasks” than individuals from loose cultures. The authors elaborate in detail the relationship, but at it’s core this is a superb academic study that highlights a countries culture can impact individual creativity.

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Hints from Academia is BLG’s effort to highlight those academic pieces we feel offer special insights and guidance to the world of practice.