In a recent study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers found that the team provides informational resources that help workers high in creative self-efficacy (CSE) realize their individual creativity.
CSE is an individual’s belief that they have the knowledge and skills to produce creative ideas and outcomes. Because the relationship between CSE and individual creativity is not very strong, researchers began questioning if contextual factors, such as the team, played a role in the effect.
In a survey involving 176 R&D team members from one multinational company, researchers examined the relationships between two key team resources and CSE. The two resources were shared knowledge
At low levels of KWKW, when team members did not know who to turn to for help at the office, both high CSE and low CSE individuals tended to have similar individual creativity. However, when members knew where to get help at the office, high CSE individuals showed significantly higher individual creativity than low CSE members. A similar pattern was found for FBD – when teams were very diversely skilled, high CSE individuals tended to benefit, but when teams were not as diverse, both high and low CSE were the same in terms of creativity.
The researchers explain that being able to tap into relevant information via KWKW implies that members are willing to help guide each other's efforts to overcome creative challenges. Furthermore, without KWKW, the search for relevant and useful information in the team becomes less effective and hence, time, motivation and energy are wasted.
This research explains why different individuals respond differently to identical team environments. For example, people who are higher in CSE are more likely benefit from working in diverse teams, whereas others are not.
In addition, companies struggling to enhance the creativity of their innovation and research teams may find more luck by modifying the team environment itself.
“Our findings suggest … that fostering CSE in and of itself may be a suboptimal strategy to boost creativity. In addition to fostering CSE, managerial actions may therefore also seek to develop the team context in which individual creativity plays out – in particular its informational resources,” the researchers conclude.
For more information about this study, please contact Andreas W. Richter, University of Cambridge. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Baer, M.; Hirst, G.; Knippenberg, D.v.; Richter, A. (2012) Creative Self-Efficacy and Individual Creativity in Team Contexts: Cross-Level Interactions With Team Informational Resources. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97(6), 1282-1290.