Advances in Team Creativity Research
- Lucy L. Gilson, Lucy L. GilsonSchool of Business, University of Connecticut
- Yuna S. H. LeeYuna S. H. LeeDepartment of Health Policy and Management, Columbia University
- and Robert C. LitchfieldRobert C. LitchfieldDepartment of Economics and Business, Washington and Jefferson College
Although creativity research has historically focused on individuals, with more and more employees working in teams, researchers have started to explore the construct of team creativity. Rather than a comprehensive review, this article takes an in-depth look at the most recent team creativity research. To do this, key themes and trends are discussed, which are then tied back to prior reviews, and new avenues for future research are proposed. Team creativity is a challenging construct because it can be conceptualized as both an outcome and a process, and there is no clear definition of either. When considering team creativity as an outcome, research has employed both complex mediation models as well as a more nuanced examination of moderating variables and constructs that may strengthen or attenuate the effects of relationships related to team creativity. This growing avenue of research recognizes the variability in team creativity that is possible in different circumstances and contexts, and seeks to identify what drives different outcomes. These approaches also acknowledge that team creativity is not guaranteed even when enabling conditions are in place, and that other variables may exert forces in different ways.
The recognition that team creativity is unlikely to be the simple sum of members’ creative processes is becoming very apparent, with researchers examining ways of encouraging, fostering, and sustaining creativity in teams over time. Researchers have also recognized that team creativity is more likely to unfurl over time as a process, rather than a discrete point-in-time event. To this end, the key areas examined are the roles of member diversity and leadership. For diversity, racio-ethno, cultural, gender, age, political orientation, and diversity training have all been examined. For leadership, the focus has shifted away from the more traditional transformational theories and to newer constructs such as humility, ethical and shared leadership, as well as what it means to have an ideational leader who facilitates idea generation. Taken together, what the most recent research tells us is that creativity in teams remains a growing and evolving area of inquiry. While no longer unexplored, much remains to be clarified such as the barriers to effective team creativity, and practices that may help transcend these barriers. A lot of promising areas for future research are highlighted, which will become more important as workplaces pivot toward cultivating team creativity in a systematic and intentional way.