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MEANJIN – Arts & Humanities Journal (ISSN: 0025-6293), Vol 6 Issue 1 (2014) PP: 13-24, www.meanjin.xp3.biz
Creativity in research and development environments: A practical review
Joachim Burbiel
Fraunhofer-Institute for Technological Trend Analysis Appelsgarten 2, 53879 Euskirchen, Germany ABSTRACT
Creativity is of paramount importance to the innovation process. Therefore the findings of creativity research should be thoroughly considered in organisations where innovation processes are required. This review summarises the literature in the field of work place creativity, with special attention given to R&D environments. Current theoretical models of creativity are discussed and a literature review of the influence of (i) motivation, (ii) interaction within work groups and between group leaders and members, and (iii) organisational culture and environment on creativity is undertaken. Practical advice is derived from literature findings wherever possible. Acknowledgements: The author wishes to thank Mr. Manfred Burbiel for valuable support regarding language issues.
Keywords: creativity, innovation, research, development, motivation, organisational culture, brainstorming


MEANJIN – Arts & Humanities Journal (ISSN: 0025-6293), Vol 6 Issue 1 (2014) PP: 13-24, www.meanjin.xp3.biz
1. INTRODUCTION
case, superior) product, it may also take the form of a new design, service or business process (Mumford 2000). There is general consensus that high profit companies of our times rely heavily on innovation to maintain their efficiency and Creativity, which we define as the combination of idea survivability, with innovation being defined as the process from generation and idea validation (see section 2.2), is essential to an idea to the introduction of a novelty into the market the innovation process. Again and again, novel ideas need to be (Mumford 2000, Basadur 2004). Novelty and usefulness are in incorporated into the innovation process (figure 1). Creativity is fact the two characteristic parameters to differentiate true even necessary before the actual innovation process can begin, innovations from me-too products and purely artistic and can thus be considered as "pre-innovation": Although the achievements (Ford 1992, as cited in Scott 1995). Although an first idea itself might be elusive, it is prerequisite for scientific, innovation is often a technologically different (and, in the best technological or procedural innovation. Figure 1: The relationship of innovation and creativity
Shalley & Gilson (2004) state that "most managers would agree a common cognitive frame (single ideas → general theory, e.g. that there is room, in almost every job, for employees to be more general systems theory) creative." Although we generally agree with this view, creativity seems to be more important in some work domains than in All of these types of creative acts are achievements in their own others. While creativity is a sine qua non in advertising and right. Their diversity cautions against a definition of scientific marketing, it might be less desirable in accounting, although a creativity that is too narrow to reflect this range. Another danger novel accounting process can well be a valuable innovation. in the study of creativity is to focus only on exceptional persons Most scientific and technological innovation is expected to and events (like the examples in the above list). Although the originate from research and development (R&D) organisations study of exceptional persons or events might cast an interesting or departments. As creativity is the source of innovation, it can light on creativity in general (Holm-Hadulla 2007), it appears to well be claimed that creativity is essential for successful R&D be more useful to concentrate on average people. We propose and that creativity in R&D thus deserves special attention. that in normal circumstances the development of creativity in According to Heinze (2007) there are five types of scientific ordinary employees is a more feasible way of inducing idea generation and validation than hiring or nurturing a genius, as by definition a genius is the great exception. Moreover, there is 1. Formulation of a new idea (or of a set of new ideas) that another problem in the study of singular "geniuses", especially opens up a new cognitive frame or brings theoretical claims to a in the field of basic sciences. There is little doubt that chance new level of sophistication (basic assumptions → theory, e.g. has played a major role in many breakthrough discoveries. Einstein‟s theory of specific relativity) Historic examples are the discovery of the vulcanization of rubber by Charles Goodyear (which is reported to have happened the first time on a dirty lab floor in 1839), radioactive 2. Discovery of a new empirical phenomenon that stimulates radiation by Henri Becquerel (while studying a faulty theory of new theorizing (observation → theory, e.g. Darwin‟s theory of phosphorescence in 1896), and Penicillin by Alexander Fleming (working with fungus-contaminated Petri dishes in 1928). The creative act of these researchers was to recognise the importance 3. Development of a new methodology, by means of which of unexpected findings, and what made them succeed was their theoretical problems can be empirically tested (theory → determination to find the reason why something had gone method, e.g. Spearman‟s development of factor analysis to test wrong. On the other hand, if these "accidents" had happened in his theory on mental abilities) other laboratories, we would probably study other "scientific geniuses" nowadays (although Simonton (2004) remarks that some scientists "appear to be consistently more lucky than 4. Invention of a novel instrument that opens up new search others", implying a special ability to exploit chance). The risk of perspectives and research domains (technique → new studying champions that were "just lucky", and ignoring possibilities, e.g. scanning tunnelling microscopy which made brilliant, but less fortunate scientists is reduced when looking at nanotechnology possible) larger groups of more average people. This paper summarises the literature in the field of work place creativity, with special 5. New synthesis of formerly dispersed ideas into general attention given to the R&D environment. Though our aim was to theoretical laws enabling analyses of diverse phenomena within focus on recent research, some older papers have been considered if they have proven to be the foundation of further MEANJIN – Arts & Humanities Journal (ISSN: 0025-6293), Vol 6 Issue 1 (2014) PP: 13-24, www.meanjin.xp3.biz
fruitful work. As for structure, we will first outline some are idea generation and idea validation. While idea generation theoretical concepts of creativity, then analyse motivation - requires divergent thinking skills to produce as many and as maybe the most important factor for individual creativity- , diverse ideas as possible, in idea validation convergent thinking move on to creativity on team or work group level, and finally skills are necessary to decide which are the most promising point out measures to be taken on institutional level to create an ideas. A similar process, "ideation-evaluation", has been environment favourable to the generation and validation of new described to be essential to the three stages of the problem solving process (problem finding, problem solving, solution implementation) by Basadur, Graen & Green (1982). In artistic settings, the first step is a value in itself and validation is not that 2. MODELS OF CREATIVITY
essential, as loose ends might even be desirable in a work of art. In commercial or scientific settings, validation is absolutely The theoretical models of creativity currently discussed in necessary as only very few ideas can be taken to realisation. literature can be divided into two groups: componential theories Both stages can either be performed by one individual or as a that examine which human characteristics and abilities are necessary to perform creative acts, and sequential theories that concentrate on the creative process. As both kinds of reasoning 2.3. The "Search for Ideas in Associative Memory" (SIAM)
lead to interesting insights, examples of both are discussed below and referred to throughout this paper. Generally speaking, componential theories give advice on how to design long-term processes conducive to creativity, while sequential theories are In the theoretical section of their paper, Nijstad & Stroebe more useful when considering short-term action or interaction. (2006) describe a creativity model called Search for Ideas in Associative Memory (SIAM). They claim that two distinct types of memory are active in the creative process, i.e. a large, static 2.1. The "Componential Theory of Individual Creativity"
network of associative images (Long-term Memory (LTM), Note: In this context, "images" are general intellectual objects According to the Componential Theory of Individual Creativity with no necessity of visual or spatial components) and a small, (Amabile 1997), the three essential components of individual dynamic Working Memory (WM) (closely associated with creativity are expertise, creative-thinking skill and intrinsic task consciousness). Based on this assumption the generation of an motivation. Expertise comprises factual knowledge, technical idea is described as to proceed in several steps (figure 2): proficiency and a special talent in the target work domain. While knowledge and proficiency can be improved over time, talent is Based on the given task, a search cue is generated in more or less a given thing rooted in individual personality. the WM. This takes some conscious effort. Creative-thinking skill is that "something extra" found in The search cue activates an image in the LTM. The creative people. There is a consensus that creative thinking can choice of which image is activated is not be learned, at least to some degree. Basadur (2004) emphasises that idea generation should be separated from idea validation, If no image can be activated or if the activated image and claims that this deferral of judgment can be trained. A "master has already been activated previously in the process, -apprentice relationship" is generally considered to be this is considered a "failure", and a new image has to most effective for the teaching of creative-thinking skills (e.g. be activated. If the number of failures exceeds a Weilerstein 2003). Motivation determines what a person actually certain limit, the whole process is terminated. will do. As motivation is the component that can be influenced (negative feedback loop 1 → "running out of ideas") most directly by environmental factors, it will receive special If the image activated in step 2 is "new", the consideration in section 3. association between this image and the original problem is strengthened. 2.2. Sequential models
Next, an idea is created from the image, either by combination of different parts of the image, or the image and the cue, or the image and previously There are several models that describe the creative process in a generated ideas. This is, again, a probabilistic sequential way. According to Wallas (1926) the four stages in the development of an idea are: preparation, incubation, If no idea can be generated or if the generated idea illumination, and verification. Preparation comprises both has already been generated previously in the process, personal preparation (knowledge and proficiency) and the this is considered a "failure", and a new idea has to investigation of the problem in all directions. Incubation is a be generated. If the number of failures exceeds a period in which the problem is banned from conscious thought, certain limit, a new image has to be activated. and dealt with in an unconscious way. Illumination is the appearance of the "happy idea". This can be either instantaneous (negative feedback loop 2 → "image depleted", search cue may be modified by considering new or a slower process. These two, somewhat mystic, stages mentioned last can hardly be influenced from the outside. If the idea generated in step 5 is "new", the Verification, finally, is the testing of the validity (novelty and associations between this idea and the image and usefulness) of the idea, either by the creator or different persons between the idea and the original problem are (cited from Scott 1995 and Holm-Hadulla 2007). In contrast to this rather abstract four-stage model, we describe the creative act Next, the idea is stored in the WM, and, if no as being composed of only two stages, both of which can be disturbance arises, expressed. influenced on individual and institutional level. The two stages A new idea is generated → step 5


MEANJIN – Arts & Humanities Journal (ISSN: 0025-6293), Vol 6 Issue 1 (2014) PP: 13-24, www.meanjin.xp3.biz
Figure 2: The "Search for Ideas in Associative Memory" (SIAM) model (adapted from Nijstad & Stroebe (2006))
The Search for Ideas in Associative Memory (Nijstad 2006) 3. MOTIVATION
matches well with the Componential Theory of Individual Creativity (Amabile 1997): Expertise can be considered a Although most of the relevant publications emphasise that measure of how well developed (density and ontological innovation is a group process, Redmond (1993) underlines the interconnectedness) the LTM is, creative-thinking skill can be fact that "it should, however, be recognised that the individual is seen as proficiency in cue generation and activation of images, the ultimate source of any idea or novel problem solution". and motivation as tolerance to failures and thus a measure on Although this original idea will be modified, supplemented or how long the ideation process is kept active. excluded by a team, idea generation happens inside the individual. On the other hand, idea processing can only happen 2.4. SIAM and production blocking
once the idea is expressed and communicated to the outside environment. As pointed out above, the Componential Theory of Individual Creativity (Amabile 1997) insists on (intrinsic) According to Nijstad & Stroebe (2006), production blocking, a motivation as a key component of individual creativity. The link concept important in the explanation of effects observed in between motivation and creativity is well established and brainstorming (see section 4.3), may occur at two stages of the generally accepted. Yet, there are two questions related to it that process. In both cases it is caused by the limited resources of the have not been answered exhaustively. The first one has received WM. There is a high chance of a validated idea being simply some attention, and results from research on it will be discussed forgotten if mental work has to be performed between storing further on: Does it make a difference if individuals are the idea in the WM (step 8a) and expressing the idea (step 8b). motivated by themselves (intrinsic motivation), in contrast to In a group brainstorming setting, this mental work consists of being motivated by prospects of receiving rewards for being monitoring the group proceedings for a possibility to express one‟s idea. The chance of forgetting an idea rises with waiting creative from outside (extrinsic motivation)? The second question has not been raised in a scientific context, to the best of time, and thus with group size, making large brainstorming our knowledge: Does motivation really influence the production groups less effective. Apart from that, this mental work might or just the expression of new ideas? In other words, do poorly also interfere with the demanding process of activating a new motivated individuals have new ideas at the same rate as highly image in the LTM (step 2). The false impression that group motivated ones, and do they just not tell anybody? brainstorming is more effective than individual brainstorming might be caused by these interruptions (at least in part, as other processes like social comparison play a part, too): In individual 3.1. Intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation
brainstorming, both more images are activated, and activated images are used more thoroughly, as fewer interruptions occur. That leads to a higher number of "failures", which again are Arthur Schawlow, winner of the noble prize in physics 1981, was once asked what, in his opinion, made the difference experienced as negative, and lead to the (erroneous) feeling of between highly creative and less creative scientists. He replied: "The labor of love aspect is important. The most successful scientists often are not the most talented. But they are the ones


MEANJIN – Arts & Humanities Journal (ISSN: 0025-6293), Vol 6 Issue 1 (2014) PP: 13-24, www.meanjin.xp3.biz
who are impelled by curiosity. They‟ve got to know what the influenced both by cognitive style and work complexity. answer is" (cited by Amabile 1997). This is a fair description of Cognitive style is defined by the Adaption-Innovation Theory intrinsic motivation. Another example is given by Akio Morita (Kirton 1994), in which "adaptors" tend to operate within given (1986), the founder of Sony: "I believe people work for paradigms and procedures, while "innovators" tend to develop satisfaction. I believe it is a big mistake to think that money is problem solutions that are qualitatively different from previous the only way to compensate a person for his work. People need ones. After evaluating interviews with 117 employees of two money, but they also want to be happy in their work and proud manufacturing companies and correlating the results with of it." This sense of pride (which seems to be closely associated creativity as perceived by immediate superiors, Baer et al. with the sense of ownership mentioned in other studies) is (2003) were able to show a complex pattern between cognitive another component of intrinsic motivation. It seems to reflect a style, job complexity, and the effect of rewards on creativity genuine human longing to be creative and to be identified with (figure 3). They found that employees with simple jobs showed the creative act or outcome. While there is little doubt that a strong response to extrinsic rewards: While the creativity of intrinsic motivation is typical of highly creative individuals, the innovators was lowered, adaptors showed a steep rise in question if and why this type of motivation could be more creativity, reversing the original order of innovators being more conducive to creativity than motivation induced by the prospect creative than adaptors. Their main finding in respect to complex of some kind of reward is still discussed vividly: Several authors jobs, which are predominant in R&D environments, was that claim that incentives and other measures that let employees while innovators are hardly affected by the prospect of rewards, participate in commercial success, will motivate creativity (e.g. the creativity of adaptors is considerably lowered. This was Springer 1992), while others observe that creativity is dwarfed if explained by pointing out that adaptors in complex jobs have rewards are promised (e.g. Amabile 1996). To make things even weaker intrinsic motivation, which is further shaken if extrinsic more complicated, a third kind of motivation, by feelings of reward is offered, as this makes them feel even more obligation, has been proposed (Cooper 2006). Baer et al. (2003) instrumental for making profit and less valued as individuals. aimed at resolving the confusion caused by these inconsistent We are not totally convinced that this is the only possible findings on the effects of rewards on creativity. They put explanation of these interesting findings. forward the idea that the effect of rewards on creativity is Figure 3: The relationship between creativity and rewards (adapted from Baer et al. (2003)
According to Mumford (2000) a combination of extrinsic and 3.2. Mission
intrinsic rewards might be the most effective way of boosting creativity: "Because creative work is linked to curiosity and A less individualistic approach towards improving motivation is independence, providing time to pursue topics of personal the provision of a "mission". The perception of contributing a professional interest, or reducing administrative burdens, may unique part to the achievement of a worthy goal (like "curing prove useful reward strategies particularly when accompanied cancer" or "flying to the moon") has been identified as a major by pay incentives, bonuses, and patent rights." Rewards and element in most of the creative events examined by Heinze incentives have an additional benefit: They indicate to (2007). According to Akio Morita (1986), it is one of the prime employees what kind of performance is desired by the tasks of management to find and communicate these overall management and are thus valuable means of communicating targets: "Management of an industrial company must be giving corporate values and goals to individual employees (Wong targets to the engineers constantly; that may be the most 2003). As such, they support the immediate superior‟s function important job management has in dealing with its engineers." of conveying these values and goals (see section 4.2). In contrast The same is surely true for scientists. Some research has been to this, Heinze (2007) observed that many research institutions conducted on how such overall goals or missions can be run reward schemes that work in a detrimental way: "Institutional arrangements fo generated. In a model suggested by Strange & Mumford (2005), r rewarding outstanding scientists the analysis of idealized goals and their causes is prerequisite for include increasing the size of their research group, putting them the formation of a so-called prescriptive mental model (PMM), in charge of a research institute, or expecting them to act as a which is a set of ideas on how things should be. This PMM is national expert on various committees. These rewards have the then refined to a "vision" that can be communicated, and may perverse effect of preventing these scientists from doing what they are best at: research and inspiring colleagues." These thus inspire others to act in a way favourable to reaching the state imagined in the PMM. A vision in this sense can be observations urgently call for a critical evaluation of incentive distinguished from a plan, as it tells people where to go but does systems especially in highly innovative areas like R&D where not necessarily tell them how to get there. Interestingly, Strange the reward schemes described by Heinze are common and & Mumford (2005) have found that experience plays a major unquestioned practise. role in creating such mental models. They claim that having MEANJIN – Arts & Humanities Journal (ISSN: 0025-6293), Vol 6 Issue 1 (2014) PP: 13-24, www.meanjin.xp3.biz
people with a wide range of experience and a "colourful" that small groups are more apt to perform creative tasks. The background in the team will benefit the creation of "vision" and mechanism behind the effects blocking creativity in large groups thus contribute indirectly, but very effectively to enhancing is quite complex. One aspect is losing track of "who is doing what", which in turn will lead to a reduced spread of novel ideas. Large groups are also less conducive to "master-apprentice relationships", which are considered exceptionally 3.3. Contest
well suited for passing on creative abilities from senior to junior members of staff (Weilerstein, Ruiz, Gorman 2003). This kind Several highly creative scientists interviewed by Heinze (2007) of relationship is mutually beneficial, as senior staff is likely to claimed that friendly competition between different groups of get fresh ideas from newer members of the team: "The the same organisation had been important as a driving factor wellsprings of research creativity reside in junior scientists and towards creative achievements. Priority races between groups of are waiting to be unleashed" (Heinze 2007). Furthermore, different organisations might also be strong motivators. These collaborative peer review, most often by a more senior scientist, priority races can take the form of friendly competition with a is considered the best method to direct creative work, when high level of communication or of fierce rivalry with no mutual requisite expertise and motivation are present (Mumford 2000). communication at all, while anything in between is also In larger groups, communication needs to be formalised and thus possible. Motivation can also be improved on inter-company or requires complex and time-consuming meeting procedures in even international level: A study conducted under the auspices contrast to low-level chats typical of smaller teams. In these less of the US National Academy of Engineering (1999) concluded formal chats new ideas arise at a considerably higher rate. that inducement prize contests have led to innovations in Regular, large meetings with a strict hierarchical order can even engineering (especially aeronautic engineering) in a highly be considered as a means of suppressing creativity since they effective way. This positive outcome is attributed to three have the well-documented effect of weakening innovative ideas effects: (i) the ability to attract a broad spectrum of ideas and by voicing all kinds of concerns and limitations. They will thus participants, (ii) the potential to leverage financial resources level down novel ideas to a streamlined generally accepted from sponsors, and (iii) the capacity to educate, inspire and consensus. Additional scarceness of administrative staff will add mobilise the public (as cited in Young 2007). Recent examples to the low effectiveness of these meetings, as preparation will be of this kind of contests are the Ansari X-Prize for the first non- poor which makes the outcome even more erratic. As a practical government organisation to launch a reusable manned spacecraft solution to the dilemma that small groups are more conducive to into space twice within two weeks (won on October 4, 2004 by creativity, but lack the knowledge and ability base of larger Scaled Composites and their "SpaceShipOne") and the DARPA groups, Heinze (2007) suggests to organize research in small Urban Challenge 2007 for an autonomous vehicle crossing an teams, but to create an organisational environment that urban environment (won on November 3, 2007 by Tartan facilitates informal interaction of these small teams (see section Racing‟s vehicle "Boss"). 5.3). These interactions are considered to be especially fruitful if groups have highly complementary knowledge and expertise, e.g. if theoretically focused groups interact with more 4. WORK GROUP CREATIVITY
experimentally oriented ones. In such a context, the small "core teams" can be considered as Communities of Practice (CoP), In remarkable contrast to the rapid technological progress in the held together by a shared knowledge base and a homogeneous last decades, the process by which technological innovation is modus operandi (set of methods and techniques), while the performed has remained fairly un-changed over the years: R&D whole organisation can be considered a Community of Interest is mainly carried out by project groups that generate or import (CoI), held together by a common goal. Smaller CoIs, made up scientific and technological information, transform it into novel of members of different CoPs, can be formed as the necessity ideas, products, or processes, and then export these innovations arises. They are less stable than the core teams and might to other units of the organisation (Elkins & Keller 2003). So, disband after a particular problem has been solved, be it after while creativity is sometimes still associated with the "lone five minutes or several years. The question whether constant or genius" working in a secluded laboratory, most creative work changing teams are more conducive to creativity has caused takes place in organisational settings and is usually conducted in some debate among scientists. Nemeth & Ormiston (2007) claim teams nowadays (Redmond 1993). Going one step beyond, that stable group membership might well increase morale, Fischer et al. (2005) claim that most intellectual processes, performance and felt creativity, while measurable creativity including creativity, are in fact social processes. According to flourishes in a less comfortable environment with changing them, "the power of the unaided individual mind is highly group members. People exposed to dissent, which stable groups overrated" and "most scientific and artistic innovations emerge appear to actively discourage, take account of more information from joint thinking, passionate conversations and shared on all sides of the issue, utilise multiple strategies, have struggles among different people, emphasizing the importance improved performance and make better decisions (Gruenfeld, of the social dimension of creativity." This emphasis on group 1995; Van Dyne & Saavedra, 1996, both as cited in Nemeth work is based on the assumption that idea generation is best 2007). As one conclusion Nemeth & Ormiston (2007) state that performed in groups and that interaction with others fosters perceived creativity may have little to do with actual creativity. creativity (Vester 1978). Yet, some researchers challenge this They suspect that people often confuse friendliness and comfort view and assert that contrary to popular belief, group interaction with creativity. The discrepancy between felt and measurable inhibits the ideation process (e.g. Nijstad 2006). In the light of creativity shows parallels to the effects of group brainstorming controversies like this, it seems to be prudent to examine group (as described in section 4.3), and indicates that self-assessment interaction processes, both inside the group (including of creativity is always precarious. This is supported by Scott interaction with group leaders), and between groups and their (1995) who advises to set generous but strict deadlines to surroundings, in order to gain insight into creative processes in creative projects, as highly creative people are rarely satisfied working environments. We will examine processes of work with the outcome of their efforts. Nemeth & Ormiston (2007) group creativity under various aspects: (i) size and constitution conclude: "Managers should be cautioned against the „paradox of the group, (ii) impact of the group leader, and (iii) creativity of success‟ wherein they place individuals in groups on a new task based on who previously worked well together. Rather, teaming individuals who have not previously worked together may better benefit the creative process." There is considerable 4.1. Size and constitution of the work group
evidence that introducing new members with a background different from the one already existent in a team will lead to While large groups offer the advantage of providing a large higher creativity. Leaders with the ability to select new group knowledge base, especially if group members come from members with skills complementing the ones already present are different professions, there is a consensus among researchers considered to obtain the most creative groups in a scientific


MEANJIN – Arts & Humanities Journal (ISSN: 0025-6293), Vol 6 Issue 1 (2014) PP: 13-24, www.meanjin.xp3.biz
environment (Heinze 2007). These new members should share broaden the horizon of the existing group, while still covering some domain knowledge with present members to make enough common ground to be able to communicate with other effective communication possible, but they should also bring team members. Springer (1992) recommends considering new abilities to the group to broaden the team‟s domain individuals with a less-than-streamlined CV when hiring for coverage. These features can be depicted both as a fish-scale creativity, as experience in diverse fields is a productive source model (Fisher 2005) and as a Venn diagram (Simonton 2004) of creative thought. (figure 4). Both diagrams show that new members should Figure 4: Different graphical representations of suitable knowledge within work groups (circles: knowledge domains of individuals; dashed
circles: well suited domains of new group members) visible role models on how employees are supposed to act. In doing so, they reconcile the dichotomy between what employees would like to do and the actual work that the organisation 4.2. Influence of leader behaviour
expects them to do, without over-controlling highly skilled subordinates. Another important function of group leaders is to The influence of leader behaviour on creativity in subordinates connect the work group to the outside world. This means is well documented in literature (e.g. Redmond 1993, Wong communicating the group‟s needs, aims, and results to higher- 2003, Amabile 2004). A principal function of leaders is to set level management and, especially in the case of academic goals and assign tasks. In the case of highly skilled workers, like research, to a broader scientific community. On the other hand, scientists or engineers, a special sensitivity is necessary, as both it is the group leader‟s function to act as an information broker too much and too little guidance will impair creativity and to connect the group to other interested parties that might productivity. Personal freedom, both in choosing which provide physical or intellectual means not available to the group particular task to do next and how to tackle it, has been otherwise (Heinze 2007). The perception of a leader that identified as a major source of creativity by various authors (e.g. supports the team in these ways, combined with respect and Schepers & van den Berg 2007). Freedom of choice in how to (public) recognition for individual group members, have been conduct their research was one of the points stressed most when shown to be among the strongest motivators for high ability creative scientists were asked about the source of their creativity subjects who found their task involving and meaningful (Heinze 2007). This freedom also makes employees feel that (Amabile 2004). The inducement of self-efficacy (e.g. by they are indeed valued as persons, a factor that - according to appreciating individual potential or achievement) and the Springer (1992) - leads to well-being and thus stimulates motivation of subordinates to apply time to problem creativity. Goals and objectives should be defined in broad terms identification and goal definition should also be mentioned. to guarantee the necessary procedural freedom. Goal definition These factors have been identified as having positive effects should focus on creativity rather than on production, as highly both on the quality of work output and on the willingness to take creative work is often less productive in terms of measurable creative risks (Redmond 1993). Finally, examples of both output than more conventional one (Mumford 2000). Shalley & positive and negative behaviour reveal that the positivity or Gilson (2004) underscore this view by stressing that time is a negativity was often conveyed more by how something was critical resource when managing for creativity. They point out done than by what was done. This means that leader actions that that it is far easier and less time consuming for most employees are conducive to creativity, like serving as a good work model, to stick to routine methods that have proved to be efficient than planning and setting goals appropriately, supporting the work to spend considerable time and energy on new, creative group within the organisation, communicating and interacting approaches whose final outcome is rather unpredictable. After well with the work group, valuing individual contributions, studying the influence of leader behaviour on the quality of the providing constructive feedback, showing confidence in the solution of a marketing task, Redmond, Mumford & Teach work group, and being open to new ideas, might not be enough (1993) suggest that although "the pressures of organisational life if they are perceived as mere management tactics by employees. may cause leaders to seek and demand immediate problem In the same way that interest in one‟s work is highly motivating solutions, […] leaders would be well-advised to give (see section 3.1), the perception of genuine interest of the leader subordinates time to think about the problem." Leaders should in the team and its individual members is a strong creativity "actively take steps to encourage subordinate problem enhancer that cannot be substituted by the mechanical construction", e.g. by having them list multiple issues or restate application of simple motivation techniques. The study of this the problem. Basadur & Gelade (2006) give several examples effect is complicated by the fact that leaders‟ behaviour patterns where insufficient time spent on problem generation caused can lead to positive or negative spirals in team dynamics and substantial delay in finding viable solutions. Immediate performance, whereby the effects of leader behaviour become superiors are thought to have the strongest impact on employee amplified over time. This suggests that the effects of leader motivation. They have a central mediating role between the behaviour on subordinate perception, emotion, and creativity are organisation and the individual employee. It is their task to neither static nor unidirectional, but part of a dynamic communicate the values of the organisation and to serve as relationship (Amabile 2004). In the end, "what seems to be MEANJIN – Arts & Humanities Journal (ISSN: 0025-6293), Vol 6 Issue 1 (2014) PP: 13-24, www.meanjin.xp3.biz
called for is an open, intellectually challenging environment individual brainstorming and pooling of ideas might well be where entrepreneurial behaviour on the part of collaborating more efficient. While brainstorming, as the classical creativity teams is actively encouraged" (Mumford 2000). technique, still receives considerable research interest, other group techniques have evolved. Many of those applicable to small groups (in contrast to large group distributed design tools) 4.3. Creativity techniques
deal with the externalization of knowledge. According to Fischer et al. (2005) externalization, that is the expression of Creativity techniques like brainstorming are generally otherwise tacit knowledge, supports group creativity in several considered useful tools for idea generation. Yet, Nijstad & ways: (i) to express a vague mental concept it has to be made Stroebe (2006) caution against their undiscriminating use in more concrete, making thoughts and intentions more accessible groups. They cite considerable evidence that while the general for reflection, (ii) a physical record of mental efforts is rules of brainstorming (emphasis on quantity, encouragement of produced, inhibiting the forgetting of ideas and conveying a unusual ideas, and discouragement of criticism) are well suited higher feeling of productivity, (iii) it relieves from the difficult for producing high quality ideas, "the prediction that task of thinking about ones own thoughts, (iv) others can act on brainstorming is best performed in groups has not received and react to externalized ideas, and (v) it contributes to a support." While felt creativity is higher if brainstorming is common language of understanding, a way to speak about performed in a group with n members, the measurable outcome things. The use of computers to support externalization of is higher if creative tasks are performed by n individuals and knowledge is becoming increasingly common. Interestingly, ideas are then pooled ("nominal group"). By reviewing the many of the supporting methods involve moving physical literature (e.g. Mullen 1991), Nijstad & Stroebe (2006) were objects like Lego bricks. This seems to be a very "natural" way able to show that indeed "productivity loss in brainstorming to discuss problems in groups that helps experts from different groups is highly significant, and of strong magnitude." As a domains to interact in a meaningful way (Fischer 2005). consequence, they recommend the use of this technique either for individual idea generation or in two-person groups, as the 5. THE CREATIVE INSTITUTION
loss of productivity increases rapidly with group size. Production blocking, that is stopping the transition from having an idea to expressing the idea, seems to be the main mechanism Most group creativity takes place in the context of larger behind this negative effect. It correlates with group size, as the organisations, be it pure research institutions or commercial individuals have to wait for their turn to express an idea until enterprises with R&D as one department among others. While other group members have expressed their thoughts (Nijstad the size of an organisation might be less important for non- 2006). "Electronic brainstorming" (EBS) has been proposed as a experimental work, a large, well-endowed working environment creativity techniques that avoids this kind of forced break and able to support an extensive array of instruments and can lead to improved idea output, especially in large groups. workspaces is indispensable for experimentally oriented Although several different methods of EBS exist, most share a scientific or engineering work. As suggested above, the ideal user interface consisting of two windows, one to type in ideas, organisational setting for creativity seems to be a large, highly and another to display all ideas generated in the particular diverse institution where small groups can easily interact and session. DeRosa, Smith & Hantula (2007) have conducted a profit from each other‟s views, abilities and knowledge domains. meta-analysis to evaluate the possible benefits of EBS. In this section, some conditions that are conducive for creativity According to them, EBS could have several positive effects, as in such an organisation are examined. compared to traditional face-to-face (FTF) brainstorming: 5.1. Organisational culture
(i) production blocking should be less pronounced, as the individual group members can type in a new idea at any time, Organisational culture has been defined as "a guideline or without having to wait for their turn, (ii) EBS has an inherent pattern of regular and predictable activity, formed by a series of memory advantage, as ideas are conserved and remain visible on coordinated actions that are put into practice before a specific the computer screen, (iii) the anonymity possible in EBS might problem or stimulus" (Claver 1998). In other words, it describes facilitate the expression of dissenting and minority opinions, the way that an organisation deals with problems, and indeed, which again stimulates thinking in divergent ways and finding what kind of problems it deems worthy dealing with. According creative solutions (Nemeth 2007). As to the quantity and quality to Cameron & Quinn (1999), the culture of organisations or their of ideas, DeRosa, Smith & Hantula (2007) were able to place departments can be represented as the four quadrants of a system EBS between FTF brainstorming and nominal control groups: formed by the two axes "introversion – extroversion" and While outperforming traditional brainstorming groups by far, "flexibility – control" (figure 5). Introversion represents care for EBS groups were slightly less productive than the nominal people and efficiency, while extroversion reflects awareness of controls, where the individual ideas were pooled without the organisational environment. Flexibility is linked to interaction. As to member satisfaction, EBS outperformed both adaptation and change, whereas control reflects orientation other kinds of brainstorming, possibly because the results were towards top-down management and the application of formal so clearly visible on-screen. Taking the meta-analysis one step rules and prescriptions. A striking feature of this system is that further, the influence of group size was analysed separately, though the concepts at the extremes of the axes are with surprising results: While small nominal (non-interacting) incompatible, neither concept is per se superior to the other. The groups outperformed EBS groups with eight members or less, four organisational cultures represented as quadrants are coined larger EBS groups showed considerably better performance than Clan (flexibility & introversion, a culture that seeks to please its their nominal controls. As for practical considerations, DeRosa, members), Adhocracy (flexibility & extroversion, a culture that Smith & Hantula (2007) advise to use EBS instead of FTF if seeks to broaden its horizon), Market (control & extroversion, a group brainstorming is desired. They believe that the size effect culture that seeks to get things done), and Hierarchy (control & is only of practical importance if it is relatively easy and introversion, a culture that seeks to ensure stability). inexpensive to form large groups or teams. In any other setting,



MEANJIN – Arts & Humanities Journal (ISSN: 0025-6293), Vol 6 Issue 1 (2014) PP: 13-24, www.meanjin.xp3.biz
Figure 5: Organisational cultures (adapted from Cameron & Quinn (1999))
According to Claver et al. (1998), the ideal profile for creativity might lead to. The dilemma that novel, high potential methods is Adhocracy: Openness for new technologies (and change in perform worse than long established concepts and procedures general) and the readiness to take risks, both factors these has been addressed by Young (2007). It seems to be a general authors identify as creativity-promoting, are part of the ideals rule that in the beginning new methods have poorer performance and values immanent to the Adhocracy culture. The flexibility to than well-established procedures. On the other hand, they have react rapidly to new developments, to incorporate new the potential to result in higher performance, if enough effort technology, and to address new problems and ideas as they arise, and time are invested (figure 6). This is inherently associated has also been found to be typical of highly creative research with considerable risk, as it is not clear what the potential groups (Heinze 2007). It is therefore advisable to create an performance of the novel method is: The chances that it will Adhocracy type environment if high creativity is desired, while never exceed the established, by-the-book procedure are alternative corporate cultures might be more valuable in other considerable. In that case all the invested means and efforts were parts of a larger organisation. Typical features of a Hierarchy are futile. Practically, this risk can lead to the effect that "negative well-established procedures and adherence to strict rules. They stereotypes and immediate work demands can lead to a are clearly detrimental to the establishment of an Adhocracy and premature rejection of potentially valuable new ideas," if no should thus be avoided in an R&D setting. A willingness to take sufficient emphasis is put on the introduction of novel ideas as a risks has already been mentioned as conducive to creativity management principle (Mumford 2000). Again, it seems to be several times. It thus seems fitting to consider the risks posed by essential to define "success" in a way that allows creative failure a creative approach to problem solving. The main risk in taking to be considered a necessary step on the way to improved a new path lies in abandoning a well-trodden one. This has to be done at a point in time when it is not clear where the new path Figure 6: A risk associated with creativity lies in the unknown potential of method B (adapted from Young (2007))


MEANJIN – Arts & Humanities Journal (ISSN: 0025-6293), Vol 6 Issue 1 (2014) PP: 13-24, www.meanjin.xp3.biz
Since R&D has a time-lagged, sporadic, and non-market nature employees‟ creativity than the actual, objective work in relation to its outputs its success is hard to evaluate by environment (Schepers 2007). Again, it is "in their heads" where standard measures like turnover or revenue (Elkins & Keller creativity starts, and environmental factors will only influence 2003). This might be the reason why organisations with a strong their state of mind in an indirect way. financial focus (Market type culture) tend to be less innovative than strategically oriented enterprises. In Market type 5.2. Employee perception of environmental conditions
organisations, incremental innovation can be viable, while the introduction of more radical ideas might require the creation of new divisions, spinning off part of the company or licensing the To determine the social factors of work-environment creativity, technology to other enterprises (Mumford 2000). Apart from Schepers & van den Berg (2007) evaluated 154 questionnaires that, market-oriented cultures will prefer stable groups, as the completed by employees of the Civil Engineering Division of efficiency of well-rehearsed teams is considerably higher than the Dutch Ministry of Transport. They sum up their results by that of ad-hoc groups, which in turn exhibit a higher output of stating that work-environment creativity is predominantly creativity (see section 4.1). The introverted nature of the Clan fostered by employee Adhocracy perception, the felt opportunity makes it less apt for creative work, at least in a technological for employees to participate in the decision making process, and sense. Fisher et al. (2005) emphasise that integrating diversity, the willingness of employees to share their knowledge. making all voices heard, and valuing openness and transparency, Knowledge sharing, in turn, is encouraged if teams are all features typical of a Clan, are highly beneficial for the perceived as cooperative (rather than competitive) and if development of social creativity. This creativity, however, is employees expect to be treated in a fair way (figure 7). It is introverted, and might not be interested enough in what is again of special interest that individual and group perceptions happening in the outside world to actively develop solutions for are of higher influence than measurable environmental facts. real world problems. On the other hand, this tendency to ponder The combination of employee participation, freedom of on its own issues makes the Clan very apt for the production of expression and high performance standards seems to be most artistic outcomes, where usefulness is not of paramount suitable for creativity and innovation in the eyes of these importance. Finally, it has to be noted that the individual perception of organisational culture has a higher influence on Figure 7: Factors conducive to work-environment creativity
advanced computing facilities has been identified as a major (adapted from Schepers & van den Berg (2007)) requirement for creativity in the case of aeronautical engineering by Young (2007). But sophisticated computational tools can be double-edged swords: McMasters & Cummings (2002) caution On the other hand, a feeling of personal insecurity is detrimental against blind trust in simulation software as in many cases to the development of creativity. This feeling can be brought software engineers have included so many of their own biases about by a seeming lack of support from the management and assumptions into the code that truly new ideas might well be (Wong 2003) and will be drastically intensified by precarious determined as "beyond reality" if tested with software of this work contracts (Heinze 2007). kind. Adequate buildings and working schedules can also be conducive to creativity. Some examples are: (i) Leaving spaces 5.3. Resources
for informal discussion (e.g. large staircases and coffee rooms), (ii) interdisciplinary contacts, (iii) avoiding large offices with many Heinze (2007) found that major creative events (in the sense of employees that might create an atmosphere where informal scientific breakthroughs) are more likely to occur in discussion is discouraged. Common lunch breaks provide good environments that provide some source of stable basic funding. opportunities of communication between employees of different He suggests that this reliability gives substantial freedom to organisational areas. Schedules that allow and encourage this think, especially about matters of no immediate utility. At the same time it reduces scientists‟ time spent on money will also help to support creativity (Heinze 2007). The highly creative scientists he interviewed agreed that considerably more well-endowed multi-year awards should be granted to scientists, especially in the ascending stage of their career.Although the availability of resources is prerequisite for 6. CONCLUSIONS
the effective performance of creative work, there is some evidence that over-abundance may lead to a loss in efficiency, mainly due to a loss of focus (Mumford 2000). In a similar Creativity research has contributed many practical guidelines on manner, the introduction of a novel technology in itself might how to manage R&D in a way that fosters creativity. Most decrease creativity. This happens if employees are confused by suggestions do not require the raising of major funds, but it is the introduction of a new process, method or machine (Claver often small things that make a difference. It would certainly be 1998). Knowledge is the main resource for producing desirable to create an ideal environment for creativity by knowledge. Access to relevant data-bases, literature and combining as many positive factors as possible, but even the MEANJIN – Arts & Humanities Journal (ISSN: 0025-6293), Vol 6 Issue 1 (2014) PP: 13-24, www.meanjin.xp3.biz
well-considered adjustments of a few parameters might have a industrial settings (section 5.1). It seems worthwhile to compare considerable bearing on creativity. Most of the proposals this theoretical framework with studies on corporate culture to compiled in this review will support each other in the actual fathom out correspondences and inconsistencies. Concerning process of enhancing creativity. Heinze (2007) has identified theoretical considerations, there is a need to reconcile one particular set of contextual circumstances that, combined componential and sequential theories that exist side by side with the individual talents of scientists, is highly likely to lead to without having many joints to connect them. Some ideas on how creative research: "Many of our highly creative researchers were they could be brought together have been outlined in section 2.3. recruited to these labs at an early stage in their careers, either as This review shows that some valuable research on workplace postdocs or junior staff researchers, and integrated into a creativity in R&D environments has already been conducted in mission oriented research program while giving them significant recent years, but it also points out that a number of issues remain freedom to pursue the aspect of the overall program that they still unresolved. As effective R&D is considered a main driving were most interested in or excited about. […] The context for force in modern economies, further studies should be carried out this sort of work was characterized by organisations that in this rewarding field of creativity research. provided significant job stability for its staff researchers, a base level of funding, […] and access to a large diversity of skills and REFERENCES
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© SYMPHONYA Emerging Issues in Management, n. 2, 2014 symphonya.unimib.it Preventing Corruption in Africa: Emerging Challenges in the Mining Sector of the Democratic Republic of Congo* Cosetta Pepe**, Jean Marie Mushagalusa Nshombo***, Mario Risso**** The globalisation of economies and markets, brings out the full importance of the