Insofar as individual characteristics are concerned, Woodman et al. focus on personality factors, cognitive abilities or style, intrinsic motivation, and knowledge, observing that they all play an important role in enhancing or constraining Creativity. These individual factors, furthermore, both influence and are influenced by social and contextual factors.
The group or team wherein individual Creativity occurs is that which establishes the immediate social influences on individual Creativity. The group characteristics that Woodman discusses include norms, cohesiveness, size, diversity, roles, task and problem-solving approaches. Finally, organizational characteristics such as culture, resources, rewards, strategy, structure and technology are also highlighted as important contextual factors.
Social and contextual influences together compose a given situation which according to Woodman et al. respectively affect creative accomplishment.
Leadership and Supervisory Behaviors
The connection between Leadership and supervisory behaviors has been the focus of a number of field studies. Results tend to indicate that the former significantly affect the latter.
Important research has, in the first place, been conducted to examine the link between different styles of supervision (supportive vs controlling) and Creativity (Amabile & Gryskiewicz, 1987; Deci & Ryan, 1987). Supervision that is supportive is considered to have a positive impact, enhancing creative achievement. Supportive supervisors show concern for the employees’ feelings and needs, encourage them to voice their concerns, and facilitate the development of their skills (Oldham ; Cummings, 1996a). Presented with more choice, individuals are, as (Zuckerman, 1978) observe, significantly more motivated on an intrinsic level than individuals lacking the same degree of freedom. Supervision that is controlling is understood, in proportion, to diminish creative performance, with supervisors monitoring employee behavior, excluding employees from the decision making process and pressuring them to think, feel, and behave in certain ways (Oldham ; Cummings, 1996b)
Attention has also been given by researchers the relationship between a Leader’s feedback and Creativity (Amabile, 1988; Shalley & Oldham, 1985). Zhou (1998) has stressed the importance of feedback style, meaning the manner in which feedback is delivered. Feedback style can be either informational or controlling. Feedback delivered in an informational style is not restrictive or constraining nor does it impose the feedback giver’s will or wishes on the feedback recipient, and thus it does not restrict Creativity. On the opposite end, feedback delivered in a controlling way emphasizes on certain types of ideas that the recipient must obtain, and/or certain levels of Creativity they must achieve.
Finally, Scott ; Bruce (1994) ; Tierney, Farmer, ; Graen, (1999) have found that the quality of the exchange or relationship between a supervisor and his or her subordinate (i.e., Leader-member exchange, LMX) also plays a role with regards to the subordinate’s Creativity. Mature interactions characterized by trust, mutual liking, and respect (high-quality Leader- member exchange) allow greater autonomy and decision latitude, both of which have been shown to be essential for innovative behavior.
Researchers have also examined the effect of work environment on the Creativity of employees.
Values, beliefs, history, and traditions of an organization have been argued to affect employees’ propensity to be creative. According to (Isaksen, Lauer, Ekvall, ; Britz, 2001) these factors influence the way people behave, feel and, in particular, the way in which they respond to ambiguity, Creativity and change. Respectively, organization culture affects Creativity in a significant manner. Employees working within cultures in which Creativity is a valued outcome are more willing to experiment with new ideas, more open to communicating and more likely to seek input from others about new ideas. They behave, overall, in ways that lead to creative outcomes.
Another aspect of work environments examined by researchers in relation to Creativity is climate. A climate where risk taking is encouraged and uncertainty is permitted can foster employee’ Creativity. Such a climate is believed to cultivate a working culture wherein employees feel psychologically safe that blame or punishment will not be assigned for pursuing new ideas or breaking with the status quo (A. Edmondson, 1999).
Furthermore, organizational structure can play a critical role for Creativity. Researchers have found that structures that promote open contact or the pursuit of information from multiple sources are linked to Creativity. A highly bureaucratic organization may not encourage employees to try new ways of doing their work, whereas a flatter structure with wider spans of control may be more conducive to employee Creativity (Christina E. Shalley & Gilson, 2004).
A final component of work environment affecting Creativity is the level of justice or fairness at hand. According to James (1993) a fair environment allows individuals to focus on their tasks, as it removes concerns about how decisions are made or how individuals are treated. In order to pursue and achieve Creativity, employees must perceive the context in which they work to be one where decisions are made and applied in a just manner.