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Advances in Team Creativity Research  

Lucy L. Gilson, Yuna S. H. Lee, and Robert C. Litchfield

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.

Article

Creative Thinking Processes: Managing Innovative Efforts  

Michael D. Mumford, Robert Martin, and Samantha N. Elliott

Creative thinking is the basis for innovation in firms. And the need for strategy-relevant innovations has generated a new concern with how people go about solving the kinds of problems that call for creative thought. Although many variables influence people’s ability to provide creative problem solutions, it is assumed the ways in which people work with or process knowledge provides the basis for successful creative problem-solving efforts. Additionally, there has been evidence bearing on the processing activities that contribute to creative problem solving. It is noted that at least eight distinct processing activities are involved in most incidents of creative problem solving: (1) problem definition, (2) information gathering, (3) concept selection, (4) conceptual combination, (5) idea generation, (6) idea evaluation, (7) implementation planning, and (8) adaptive monitoring. There are strategies people employ in effective execution of each of these processes, along with contextual variables that contribute to, or inhibit, effective process execution. Subsequently, there are key variables that operate in the workplace that contribute to, or inhibit, effective execution of these processing operations. These observations, of course, lead to implications for management of innovative efforts in firms.

Article

Social Networks and Employee Creativity  

Gamze Koseoglu and Christina E. Shalley

In the field of management, employee creativity, which is defined as the production of novel and useful ideas concerning products, processes, and services, has been found to be necessary for organizational success and survival. An employee’s relationships with others in the organization affect creativity because employees work in the presence of, and with, their coworkers. A social network approach has been taken to understand how employee relationships can affect creativity. Social networks examine the interaction of individuals with those around them, such as asking them for help or advice. Four components of social networks that have a role in employee creativity have received attention: the nature of the employee’s relationships with coworkers, the structure of the employee’s social network, the position of the employee in the organizational network, and the employee’s network heterogeneity. Regarding the nature of relationships, while some researchers have found that weaker ties are more beneficial for employee creativity, other researchers have found that stronger ties are more advantageous. In order to resolve this conflict, researchers examined the role of strong versus weak ties at different stages of the creativity process and found that, while weak ties might be more useful during idea generation, strong ties come into play during idea elaboration. There are also conflicting findings on the role of the structure of social network. Specifically, a group of researchers found support for a positive relationship between sparse networks and employee creativity, and another group found a positive relationship between dense networks and creativity. Some researchers aimed to resolve this debate, and their findings mirrored the findings on tie strength. They found that density affects different stages of the creative process in unique ways, and while sparse networks are more beneficial during idea generation, dense networks become more important during idea implementation. Compared to the previous two components, the role of network position and network heterogeneity has received less attention from researchers. Researchers found that both central and peripheral positions have certain benefits and costs for creativity. For example, on the one hand, employees located at the periphery of an organization can collect nonredundant information from outside of the organization that has not been shared by others in the organization and has a positive influence on creativity. On the other hand, employees at a central location gain benefits from fast and easy access to information based on many contracts and receiving recognition from many others, thereby improving creativity. Finally, researchers consistently found that different types of network heterogeneity, such as the diversity of one’s contacts in terms of functional background, organizational function, or nationality, positively affects employee creativity. There are many opportunities for future research on the relationship between social networks and creativity, such as examining the role of motivational and cognitive processes as mediational mechanisms, focusing on the role of alter characteristics, studying social networks in a team setting, and taking a temporal approach to understand how changes in social networks over time affect employee creativity.

Article

The Arts and the Art and Science of Management Teaching  

Joan V. Gallos

The arts have played a major role in the development of management theory, practice, and education; and artists’ competencies like creativity, inventiveness, aesthetic appreciation, and a design mindset are increasingly vital for individual and organizational success in a competitive global world. The arts have long been used in teaching to: (a) explore human nature and social structures; (b) facilitate cognitive, socioemotional, and behavioral growth; (c) translate theory into action; (d) provide opportunities for professional development; and (e) enhance individual and systemic creativity and capacities for change. Use of literature and films are curricular mainstays. A review of the history of the arts in management teaching and learning illustrates how the arts have expanded our ways of knowing and defining managerial and leadership effectiveness—and the competencies and training necessary for them. The scholarship of management teaching is large, primarily ‘how-to’ teaching designs and the assessments of them. There is a clear need to expand the research on how and why the arts are and can be used more effectively to educate professionals, enable business growth and new product development, facilitate collaboration and team building, and bring innovative solutions to complex ideas. Research priorities include: the systematic assessments of the state of arts-based management teaching and learning; explorations of stakeholder attitudes and of environmental forces contributing to current educational models and practices; analyses of the learning impact of various pedagogical methods and designs; examining the unique role of the arts in professional education and, especially, in teaching for effective action; mining critical research from education, psychology, creativity studies, and other relevant disciplines to strengthen management teaching and learning; and probing how to teach complex skills like innovative thinking and creativity. Research on new roles and uses for the arts provide a foundation for a creative revisiting of 21st-century management education and training.