Fostering creativity on a daily basis


Bert Schreurs, Hannes Guenter, Hetty van Emmerik

Co-operation with Aesculap AG, Bankhaus Ellwanger & Geiger KG, MECC Maastricht, Gemeente Sittard-Heerlen

Further information

Introduction and Position in the current literature
Creativity, that is, the generation of novel and useful ideas (Amabile, 1996; George, 2008) is key to organizational innovation. It is the creative talent of employees that often decides about whether organizations manage to develop and implement new products, processes, and services. Research has shown that the work environment plays a dominant role in fostering creativity. A meta-analysis by Harrison, Neff, Schwall and Zhao (2006), for example, indicates that job characteristics  especially complexity, autonomy, and perceived creative requirements  are the strongest predictors of creativity at work. Most studies on job characteristics and creativity have employed between-person designs to explore the extent to which environmental characteristics and creativity co-vary across individuals. A basic tenet of between-person designs is that the variables under investigation are stable over time. There is accumulating evidence, however, that this assumption is wrong. Recent studies have shown that creativity does change in meaningful ways over time, even on a daily basis (Binnewies & Wornlein, 2011; Ohly & Fritz, 2010). Job characteristics, such as complexity, autonomy, and time pressure, also fluctuate on a daily basis (Ilies, Schwind, Wagner, Johnson, DeRue, & Ilgen, 2007). The problem with between-person studies is that they cannot explain why employees are more creative on some days than on others. Within-person studies, however, can.  In the present within-person study we thus investigate factors that make a creative day.

Research questions & hypothesis
We build and test a cross-level interaction model to study the within-person relationships between daily job characteristics and daily creativity, and the moderating role of stable dispositional factors in this relationship. We assume that daily creativity depends on daily work conditions, and that the strength of this relationship differs across individuals.

Research methods
Data will be collected among workers employed in creative industries. In addition,  jobs where innovation is an essential part of good job performance will be included. The study requires participants to complete a diary questionnaire every day for five consecutive days and a survey questionnaire at the start. The data will be analyzed using random coefficient modeling.

Results & follow-up