Workplace creativity exhibited by individual employees and teams is a key driver of organizational innovation and success. After briefly touching upon issues related to the historical roots of research on workplace creativity, we focus on reviewing empirical work published since 2000 by researchers in the field of organizational psychology and management. We observe that although earlier research tended to take either an actor-centered or a context-centered approach, continuing to do so may have diminishing returns. To understand creativity in all its complexity and potential, an interactionist perspective that emphasizes actor–context interactive effects on creativity holds much promise. Moreover, after reviewing existing work taking an interactionist approach, we conclude that the nature of the actor–context interaction needs further theoretical advancement and refinement. Toward this end, we propose a typology that reveals a complex and intriguing set of actor–context interactions, including ones that are synergistic, antagonistic, inhibitory, remedial, and configurational, as well as ones that show patterns of diminishing gains and diminishing losses. We also discuss future research directions and practical implications.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Literature Cited

  1. Alge BJ, Ballinger GA, Tangirala S, Oakley JL. 2006. Information privacy in organizations: empowering creative and extrarole performance. J. Appl. Psychol. 91:221–32 [Google Scholar]
  2. Amabile TM. 1983. The social psychology of creativity: a componential conceptualization. J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 45:357–76 [Google Scholar]
  3. Amabile TM. 1988. A model of creativity and innovation in organizations. Res. Organ. Behav. 10:123–67 [Google Scholar]
  4. Amabile TM. 1996. Creativity in Context: Update to The Social Psychology of Creativity Boulder, CO: Westview [Google Scholar]
  5. Amabile TM, Barsade SG, Mueller JS, Staw BM. 2005. Affect and creativity at work. Adm. Sci. Q. 50:367–403 [Google Scholar]
  6. Baas M, De Dreu CKW, Nijstad BA. 2008. A meta-analysis of 25 years of mood–creativity research: hedonic tone, activation, or regulatory focus?. Psychol. Bull. 134:779–806 [Google Scholar]
  7. Baer M. 2010. The strength of weak ties perspective on creativity: a comprehensive examination and extension. J. Appl. Psychol. 95:592–601 [Google Scholar]
  8. Baer M, Leenders RTAJ, Oldham GR, Vadera AK. 2010. Win or lose the battle for creativity: the power and perils of intergroup competition. Acad. Manag. J. 53:827–45 [Google Scholar]
  9. Baer M, Oldham G. 2006. The curvilinear relation between experienced creative time pressure and creativity: moderating effects of openness to experience and support for creativity. J. Appl. Psychol. 91:963–70 [Google Scholar]
  10. Baer M, Oldham GR, Cummings A. 2003. Rewarding creativity: When does it really matter?. Leadersh. Q. 14:569–86 [Google Scholar]
  11. Barron F, Harrington DM. 1981. Creativity, intelligence, and personality. Annu. Rev. Psychol. 32:439–76 [Google Scholar]
  12. Barsh J, Capozzi MM, Davidson J. 2008. Leadership and innovation. McKinsey Quarterly Jan. [Google Scholar]
  13. Baumeister RF, Bratslavsky E, Finkenauer C, Vohs KD. 2001. Bad is stronger than good. Rev. Gen. Psychol. 5:323–70 [Google Scholar]
  14. Binnewies C, Wörnlein S. 2011. What makes a creative day? A diary study on the interplay between affect, job stressors, and job control. J. Organ. Behav. 32:589–607 [Google Scholar]
  15. Bledow R, Rosing K, Frese M. 2013. A dynamic perspective on affect and creativity. Acad. Manag. J. 56:432–50 [Google Scholar]
  16. Byron K, Khazanchi S. 2012. Rewards and creative performance: a meta-analytic test of theoretically derived hypotheses. Psychol. Bull. 138:809–30 [Google Scholar]
  17. Byron K, Khazanchi S, Nazarian D. 2010. The relationship between stressors and creativity: a meta-analysis examining competing theoretical models. J. Appl. Psychol. 95:201–12 [Google Scholar]
  18. Černe M, Nerstad C, Dysvik A, Škerlavaj M. 2013. What goes around comes around: knowledge hiding, perceived motivational climate, and creativity. Acad. Manag. J. In press. doi: 10.5465/amj.2012.0122 [Google Scholar]
  19. Chirumbolo A, Mannetti L, Pierro A, Areni A, Kruglanski AW. 2005. Motivated close-mindedness and creativity in small groups. Small Group Res. 36:59–82 [Google Scholar]
  20. Choi JN. 2004. Person–environment fit and creative behavior: differential impacts of supplies–values and demands–abilities versions of fit. Hum. Relat. 57:531–52 [Google Scholar]
  21. Chua RYJ. 2012. The costs of ambient cultural disharmony: Indirect intercultural conflicts in social environment undermine creativity. Acad. Manag. J. In press. doi: 10.5465/amj.2011.0971 [Google Scholar]
  22. Chua RYJ, Morris MW, Mor S. 2012. Collaborating across cultures: cultural metacognition and affect-based trust in creative collaboration. Organ. Behav. Hum. Decis. Process. 118:116–31 [Google Scholar]
  23. Cropley A. 2006. In praise of convergent thinking. Creat. Res. J. 18:391–404 [Google Scholar]
  24. Davis MA. 2009. Understanding the relationship between mood and creativity: a meta-analysis. Organ. Behav. Hum. Decis. Process. 108:25–38 [Google Scholar]
  25. De Stobbeleir KEM, Ashford SJ, Buyens D. 2011. Self-regulation of creativity at work: the role of feedback-seeking behavior in creative performance. Acad. Manag. J. 54:811–31 [Google Scholar]
  26. DeRue DS, Rosso BD. 2009. Toward a theory of rapid creativity in teams. Res. Manag. Groups Teams 12:195–228 [Google Scholar]
  27. Eisenberger R, Aselage J. 2008. Incremental effects of reward on experienced performance pressure: positive outcomes for intrinsic interest and creativity. J. Organ. Behav. 30:95–117 [Google Scholar]
  28. Eisenberger R, Rhoades L. 2001. Incremental effects of reward on creativity. J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 81:728–41 [Google Scholar]
  29. Farh JL, Lee C, Farh CIC. 2010. Task conflict and team creativity: a question of how much and when. J. Appl. Psychol. 95:1173–80 [Google Scholar]
  30. Farmer SM, Tierney P, Kung-McIntyre K. 2003. Employee creativity in Taiwan: an application of role identity theory. Acad. Manag. J. 46:618–30 [Google Scholar]
  31. Feist GJ. 1998. A meta-analysis of personality in scientific and artistic creativity. Personal. Soc. Psychol. Rev. 2:290–309 [Google Scholar]
  32. Gajendran RS, Joshi A. 2012. Innovation in globally distributed teams: the role of LMX, communication frequency, and member influence on team decisions. J. Appl. Psychol. 97:1252–61 [Google Scholar]
  33. Gelfand MJ, Nishii LH, Raver JL. 2006. On the nature and importance of cultural tightness-looseness. J. Appl. Psychol. 91:1225–44 [Google Scholar]
  34. George JM, Zhou J. 2001. When openness to experience and conscientiousness are related to creative behavior: an interactional approach. J. Appl. Psychol. 86:513–24 [Google Scholar]
  35. George JM, Zhou J. 2002. Understanding when bad moods foster creativity and good ones don’t: the role of context and clarity of feelings. J. Appl. Psychol. 87:687–97 [Google Scholar]
  36. George JM, Zhou J. 2007. Dual tuning in a supportive context: joint contributions of positive mood, negative mood, and supervisory behaviors to employee creativity. Acad. Manag. J. 50:605–22 [Google Scholar]
  37. Giambatista RC, Bhappu AD. 2010. Diversity’s harvest: interactions of diversity sources and communication technology on creative group performance. Organ. Behav. Hum. Decis. Process. 111:116–26 [Google Scholar]
  38. Gilson LL. 2008. Why be creative: a review of the practical outcomes associated with creativity at the individual, group, and organizational levels. See Zhou & Shalley 2008b, pp. 303–22
  39. Gilson LL, Shalley CE. 2004. A little creativity goes a long way: an examination of teams’ engagement in creative processes. J. Manag. 30:453–70 [Google Scholar]
  40. Gino F, Argote L, Miron-Spektor E, Todorava G. 2010. First, get your feet wet: the effects of learning from direct and indirect experience on team creativity. Organ. Behav. Hum. Decis. Process. 111:102–15 [Google Scholar]
  41. Girotra K, Terwiesch C, Ulrich KT. 2010. Idea generation and the quality of the best idea. Manag. Sci. 56:591–605 [Google Scholar]
  42. Goncalo J, Duguid MM. 2012. Follow the crowd in a new direction: when conformity pressure facilitates group creativity (and when it does not). Organ. Behav. Hum. Decis. Process. 118:14–23 [Google Scholar]
  43. Goncalo JA, Staw BM. 2006. Individualism-collectivism and group creativity. Organ. Behav. Hum. Decis. Process. 100:96–109 [Google Scholar]
  44. Gong Y, Cheung SY, Wang M, Huang JC. 2012a. Unfolding the proactive process for creativity: integration of the employee proactivity, information exchange and psychological safety perspectives. J. Manag. 38:1611–33 [Google Scholar]
  45. Gong Y, Huang JC, Farh JL. 2009. Employee learning orientation, transformational leadership and employee creativity: the mediating role of employee creative self-efficacy. Acad. Manag. J. 52:765–78 [Google Scholar]
  46. Gong Y, Kim TY, Zhu J, Lee DR. 2012b. A multilevel model of team goal orientation, information exchange, and creativity. Acad. Manag. J. 56:827–51 [Google Scholar]
  47. Gong Y, Zhou J, Chang S. 2013. Core knowledge employee creativity and firm performance: the moderating role of riskiness orientation, firm size, and realized absorptive capacity. Pers. Psychol. 66:443–82 [Google Scholar]
  48. Grant AM, Berry JW. 2011. The necessity of others is the mother of invention: intrinsic and prosocial motivations, perspective taking, and creativity. Acad. Manag. J. 54:73–96 [Google Scholar]
  49. Hargadon AB, Bechky BA. 2006. When collections of creatives become creative collectives: a field study of problem solving at work. Organ. Sci. 17:484–500 [Google Scholar]
  50. Hennessey BA, Amabile TM. 2010. Creativity. Annu. Rev. Psychol. 61:569–98 [Google Scholar]
  51. Hinsz VB, Tindale RS, Vollrath DA. 1997. The emerging conceptualization of groups as information processors. Psychol. Bull. 121:43–64 [Google Scholar]
  52. Hirst G, Van Dick R, Van Knippenberg D. 2009a. A social identity perspective on leadership and employee creativity. J. Organ. Behav. 30:963–82 [Google Scholar]
  53. Hirst G, Van Knippenberg D, Chen CH, Sacramento CA. 2011. How does bureaucracy impact individual creativity? A cross-level investigation of team contextual influences on goal orientation–creativity relationships. Acad. Manag. J. 54:624–41 [Google Scholar]
  54. Hirst G, Van Knippenberg D, Zhou J. 2009b. A cross-level perspective on employee creativity: goal orientation, team learning behavior, and individual creativity. Acad. Manag. J. 52:280–93 [Google Scholar]
  55. Hoever IJ. 2012. Diversity and creativity: in search of synergy. PhD Thesis, Erasmus Univ., Rotterdam, Neth .
  56. Hoever IJ, Van Knippenberg D, Van Ginkel WP, Barkema HG. 2012a. Fostering team creativity: perspective taking as key to unlocking diversity’s potential. J. Appl. Psychol. 97:982–96 [Google Scholar]
  57. Hoever IJ, Zhou J, van Knippenberg D. 2012b. The differential effect of feedback valence on the creativity of informationally diverse and homogeneous teams. Presented at Annu. Meet. Acad. Manag., 72nd, Aug. 3–7, Boston
  58. Hülsheger UR, Anderson N, Salgado JF. 2009. Team-level predictors of innovation at work: a comprehensive meta-analysis spanning three decades of research. J. Appl. Psychol. 94:1128–45 [Google Scholar]
  59. Janssen O, Huang X. 2008. Us and me: team identification and individual differentiation as complementary drivers of team members’ citizenship and creative behaviors. J. Manag. 34:69–88 [Google Scholar]
  60. Jaussi KS, Dionne SD. 2003. Leading for creativity: the role of unconventional leader behavior. Leadersh. Q. 14:475–98 [Google Scholar]
  61. Keller RT. 2012. Predicting the performance and innovativeness of scientists and engineers. J. Appl. Psychol. 97:225–33 [Google Scholar]
  62. Khazanchi S, Masterson SS. 2011. Who and what is fair matters: a multi-foci social exchange model of creativity. J. Organ. Behav. 32:86–106 [Google Scholar]
  63. Liao H, Liu D, Loi R. 2010. Looking at both sides of the social exchange coin: a social cognitive perspective on the joint effects of relationship quality and differentiation on creativity. Acad. Manag. J. 53:1090–109 [Google Scholar]
  64. Liu D, Chen XP, Yao X. 2011. From autonomy to creativity: a multilevel investigation of the mediating role of harmonious passion. J. Appl. Psychol. 96:294–309 [Google Scholar]
  65. Liu D, Liao H, Loi R. 2012. The dark side of leadership: a three-level investigation of the cascading effect of abusive supervision on employee creativity. Acad. Manag. J. 55:1187–212 [Google Scholar]
  66. Madjar N, Oldham GR, Pratt MG. 2002. There’s no place like home? The contributions of work and nonwork creativity support to employees creative performance. Acad. Manag. J. 45:757–67 [Google Scholar]
  67. Madjar N, Greenberg E, Chen Z. 2011. Factors for radical creativity, incremental creativity, and routine, noncreative performance. J. Appl. Psychol. 96:730–43 [Google Scholar]
  68. Madjar N, Ortiz-Walters R. 2008. Customers as contributors and reliable evaluators of creativity in the service industry. J. Organ. Behav. 29:949–66 [Google Scholar]
  69. Madjar N, Shalley CE. 2008. Multiple tasks' and multiple goals' effect on creativity: forced incubation or just a distraction?. J. Manag. 34:786–805 [Google Scholar]
  70. Meyer RD, Dalal RS, Hermida R. 2010. A review and synthesis of situational strength in the organizational sciences. J. Manag. 36:121–40 [Google Scholar]
  71. Montag T, Maertz CP Jr, Baer M. 2012. A critical analysis of the workplace creativity criterion space. J. Manag. 38:1362–86 [Google Scholar]
  72. Mueller JS, Kamdar D. 2011. Why seeking help from teammates is a blessing and a curse: a theory of help seeking and individual creativity in team contexts. J. Appl. Psychol. 96:263–76 [Google Scholar]
  73. Ohly S, Fritz C. 2010. Work characteristics, challenge appraisal, creativity, and proactive behavior: a multi-level study. J. Organ. Behav. 31:543–65 [Google Scholar]
  74. Ohly S, Sonnentag S, Pluntke F. 2006. Routinization, work characteristics and their relationships with creative and proactive behaviors. J. Organ. Behav. 27:257–79 [Google Scholar]
  75. Oldham GR, Cummings A. 1996. Employee creativity: personal and contextual factors at work. Acad. Manag. J. 39:607–34 [Google Scholar]
  76. Pearsall MJ, Ellis APJ, Evans JM. 2008. Unlocking the effects of gender faultlines on team creativity: Is activation the key?. J. Appl. Psychol. 93:225–34 [Google Scholar]
  77. Perry-Smith JE. 2006. Social yet creative: the role of social relationships in facilitating individual creativity. Acad. Manag. J. 49:85–101 [Google Scholar]
  78. Pirola-Merlo A, Mann L. 2004. The relationship between individual creativity and team creativity: aggregating across people and time. J. Organ. Behav. 25:235–57 [Google Scholar]
  79. Porath CL, Erez A. 2009. Overlooked but not untouched: how rudeness reduces onlookers’ performance on routine and creative tasks. Organ. Behav. Hum. Decis. Process. 109:29–44 [Google Scholar]
  80. Raja U, Johns G. 2010. The joint effects of personality and job scope on in-role performance, citizenship behaviors, and creativity. Hum. Relat. 63:981–1005 [Google Scholar]
  81. Rego A, Sousa F, Marques C, Cunha MP. 2012a. Optimism predicting employees’ creativity: the mediating role of positive affect and the positivity ratio. Eur. J. Organ. Behav. 21:244–70 [Google Scholar]
  82. Rego A, Sousa F, Marques C, Cunha MP. 2012b. Retail employees’ self-efficacy and hope predicting their positive affect and creativity. Eur. J. Organ. Behav. 21:923–45 [Google Scholar]
  83. Richter AW, Hirst G, Van Knippenberg D, Baer M. 2012. Creative self-efficacy and individual creativity in team contexts: cross-level interactions with team informational resources. J. Appl. Psychol. 97:1282–90 [Google Scholar]
  84. Sacramento CA, Fay D, West MA. 2013. Workplace duties or opportunities? Challenge stressors, regulatory focus, and creativity. Organ. Behav. Hum. Decis. Process. 121:141–57 [Google Scholar]
  85. Sagiv L, Arieli S, Goldenberg J, Goldschmidt A. 2010. Structure and freedom in creativity: the interplay between externally imposed structure and personal cognitive style. J. Organ. Behav. 31:1086–110 [Google Scholar]
  86. Shalley CE, Gilson LL. 2004. What leaders need to know: a review of social and contextual factors that can foster or hinder creativity. Leadersh. Q. 15:33–53
  87. Shalley CE, Gilson LL, Blum TC. 2009. Interactive effects of growth need strength, work context, and job complexity on self-reported creative performance. Acad. Manag. J. 52:489–505 [Google Scholar]
  88. Shalley CE, Perry-Smith JE. 2001. Effects of social-psychological factors on creative performance: the role of informational and controlling expected evaluation and modeling experience. Organ. Behav. Hum. Decis. Process. 84:1–22 [Google Scholar]
  89. Shalley CE, Zhou J. 2008. Organizational creativity research: a historical review. See Zhou & Shalley 2008b 3–31 [Google Scholar]
  90. Shalley CE, Zhou J, Oldham GR. 2004. The effects of personal and contextual characteristics on creativity: Where should we go from here?. J. Manag. 30:933–58 [Google Scholar]
  91. Shin SJ, Kim TY, Lee JY, Bian L. 2012. Cognitive team diversity and individual team member creativity: a cross-level interaction. Acad. Manag. J. 55:197–212 [Google Scholar]
  92. Shin SJ, Zhou J. 2003. Transformational leadership, conservation, and creativity: evidence from Korea. Acad. Manag. J. 46:703–14 [Google Scholar]
  93. Shin SJ, Zhou J. 2007. When is educational specialization heterogeneity related to creativity in research and development teams? Transformational leadership as a moderator. J. Appl. Psychol. 92:1709–21 [Google Scholar]
  94. Somech A. 2006. The effects of leadership style and team process on performance and innovation in functionally heterogeneous teams. J. Manag. 32:132–57 [Google Scholar]
  95. Sung SY, Choi JN. 2012. Effects of team knowledge management on the creativity and financial performance of organizational teams. Organ. Behav. Hum. Decis. Process. 118:4–13 [Google Scholar]
  96. Tadmor CT, Galinsky AD, Maddux WW. 2012. Getting the most out of living abroad: biculturalism and integrative complexity as key drivers of creative and professional success. J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 103:520–42 [Google Scholar]
  97. Taggar S. 2002. Individual creativity and group ability to utilize individual creative resources: a multilevel model. Acad. Manag. J. 45:315–30 [Google Scholar]
  98. Tett RP, Burnett DD. 2003. A personality trait–based interaction model of job performance. J. Appl. Psychol. 88:500–17 [Google Scholar]
  99. Thatcher SMB, Greer LL. 2008. Does it really matter if you recognize who I am? The implications of identity comprehension for individuals in work teams. J. Manag. 34:5–24 [Google Scholar]
  100. Thompson LL, Choi HS. 2006. Creativity and Innovation in Organizational Teams Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum [Google Scholar]
  101. Tierney P, Farmer SM. 2002. Creative self-efficacy: its potential antecedents and relationship to creative performance. Acad. Manag. J. 45:1137–48 [Google Scholar]
  102. Tierney P, Farmer SM. 2004. The Pygmalion process and employee creativity. J. Manag. 30:413–32 [Google Scholar]
  103. Tierney P, Farmer SM. 2011. Creative self-efficacy development and creative performance over time. J. Appl. Psychol. 96:277–93 [Google Scholar]
  104. Tierney P, Farmer SM, Graen GB. 1999. An examination of leadership and employee creativity: the relevance of traits and relationships. Pers. Psychol. 52:591–620 [Google Scholar]
  105. To ML, Fisher CD, Ashkanasy NM, Rowe PA. 2012. Within-person relationships between mood and creativity. J. Appl. Psychol. 97:599–612 [Google Scholar]
  106. Tsai WC, Chi NW, Grandey AA, Fung SC. 2012. Positive group affective tone and team creativity: negative group affective tone and team trust as boundary conditions. J. Organ. Behav. 33:638–56 [Google Scholar]
  107. Unsworth K. 2001. Unpacking creativity. Acad. Manag. Rev. 26:289–97 [Google Scholar]
  108. Van Dyne L, Jehn KA, Cummings A. 2002. Differential effects of strain on two forms of work performance: individual employee sales and creativity. J. Organ. Behav. 23:57–74 [Google Scholar]
  109. Wang AC, Cheng BS. 2010. When does benevolent leadership lead to creativity? The moderating role of creative role identity and job autonomy. J. Organ. Behav. 31:106–21 [Google Scholar]
  110. Wang P, Rode J. 2010. Transformational leadership and follower creativity: the moderating effects of identification with leader and organizational climate. Hum. Relat. 63:1105–28 [Google Scholar]
  111. Woodman RW, Sawyer JE, Griffin RW. 1993. Toward a theory of organizational creativity. Acad. Manag. Rev. 18:293–321 [Google Scholar]
  112. Woodman RW, Schoenfeldt LF. 1990. An interactionist model of creative behavior. J. Creat. Behav. 24:279–90 [Google Scholar]
  113. Zhang X, Bartol KM. 2010. Linking empowering leadership and employee creativity: the influence of psychological empowerment, intrinsic motivation, and creative process engagement. Acad. Manag. J. 53:107–28 [Google Scholar]
  114. Zhou J. 2003. When the presence of creative coworkers is related to creativity: role of supervisor close monitoring, developmental feedback, and creative personality. J. Appl. Psychol. 88:413–22 [Google Scholar]
  115. Zhou J, George JM. 2001. When job dissatisfaction leads to creativity: encouraging the expression of voice. Acad. Manag. J. 44:682–96 [Google Scholar]
  116. Zhou J, Shalley CE. 2008a. Expanding the scope and impact of organizational creativity research. See Zhou & Shalley 2008b 347–68 [Google Scholar]
  117. Zhou J, Shalley CE. 2008b. Handbook of Organizational Creativity New York: Erlbaum [Google Scholar]
  118. Zhou J, Shalley CE. 2011. Deepening our understanding of creativity in the workplace: a review of different approaches to creativity research. APA Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology Vol. 1 Zedeck S. 275–302 Washington, DC: APA [Google Scholar]
  119. Zhou J, Shin SJ, Brass DJ, Choi J. 2009. Social networks, personal values, and creativity: evidence for curvilinear and interaction effects. J. Appl. Psychol. 94:1544–52 [Google Scholar]
  120. Zhou Q, Hirst G, Shipton H. 2012a. Context matters: combined influence of participation and intellectual stimulation on the promotion focus–employee creativity relationship. J. Organ. Behav. 33:894–909 [Google Scholar]
  121. Zhou Q, Hirst G, Shipton H. 2012b. Promoting creativity at work: the role of problem-solving demand. Appl. Psychol. Int. Rev. 61:56–80 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Review Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error