Creativity in organizations: Antecedents and outcomes of individual creativity

Goran Calic, Purdue University


In this dissertation I set out to expand our collective understanding of creativity in organizations. I accomplish this through three related studies, each organized into independent chapters of this dissertation. The first study explores how demands of organizations, particularly strategic contradictions faced by decision makers, affect creative processes and products. In this chapter I develop the theory of paradoxical creativity, which posits that creative discovery is a function of how strategic contradictions are perceived by decision-makers. The key insight of the theory of paradoxical creativity is that strategic contradictions have independent effects on the two stages of creative discovery (generation and evaluation of ideas) and that a strategic contradiction will result in creativity, as opposed to inertia, when these two cognitive indicators are balanced. This study adds to existing scholarship by describing potential individual differences in how strategic contradictions are perceived and how they can be managed for performance. While the first study explored the antecedents of creativity, the second explores creativity as the antecedent condition. In this study I look at how creativity affects the decision to act on innovative breakthroughs. The central argument of this study is that incremental creativity is more likely to result in innovative breakthroughs than is radical creativity and that more successful innovators are more likely to engage in incremental, rather than radical, creativity. Incremental creativity is more amendable to management, because its outcomes are more predictable. Resultantly, decision-makers are more likely to act on incremental ideas. Because incremental ideas survive transfer to the workplace, they provide an opportunity for creative elaboration. Elaboration feeds the earlier stages of idea generation by helping the innovator refine the idea and can result in better understanding of idea usefulness, new generation, more incubation, and further elaboration. This process creates a virtuous cycle that can result in breakthrough innovation and is more amenable to strategic management in conditions with limited resources and competition. The third study explores creativity as the mediating variable. This study relies on crowdfunding data collected from the platform to test whether a sustainability orientation affects funding success of online projects and whether this relationship is moderated by creativity. Findings suggests that a hybrid approach, one combining a sustainability and profitability orientation, will result in higher product creativity and as such result in more funding for the new venture.




Schoorman, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Management|Cognitive psychology|Organizational behavior

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