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Organizational Creative Capacity

Exploring the microfoundations fundamental to organizational creative capacity

Written by: Ing. J.H. Sol (#5973163)

March 2011

University of Amsterdam
Faculty of Economics and Business
Master Thesis Business Studies
Supervisor: Dr. Ranjita M. Singh
2nd supervisor:


During my master Business Studies I have developed a deep interest in theories that aim to explain the
sources of performance differentials among firms active in high-tech sectors. My interest in these
firms can be explained by the incredible innovations they bring to markets and the subsequent positive
enrichments these innovations have on our lives.
Throughout last years, I have studied dozens of theories that present factors that potentially influence
performance differentials among firms. These factors vary from theories related to organizational
structures to theories on the influence of managerial cognitive dissonance. However, of all factors that
inIluence a companies` competitive strength, I have found organizational creativity to be the most
important by far.
In my opinion, human creativity is the ignition spark of all technological innovation and is therefore
the fundamental cause of almost all competitive dynamics in high-tech sectors. History has shown that
breakthrough creative ideas can mean the beginning of a Schumpeterian shock, which can result into
massive shifts in wealth distribution among industry players. This notion of creative destruction
fascinated me and has raised a lot of questions related to the somewhat mysterious concept of
creativity. Among these questions are: Why are some companies more creative then others? Do
successful companies have more creative employees than their competitors, or do they have different
managerial practices? Do creative people exist at all, or is creative achievement caused by intensive
efforts? During this thesis I have tried to answer questions like these in order to get a better
understanding of the roots of value creation within a capitalist society.
I would like to thank a few people that contributed to this thesis. In the first place I would like to thank
Ranjita Singh for her supervision during my research. Her valuable, timely and adequate feedback was
of great value and certainly influenced the quality of this research in a positive way.
I also would like to thank all interviewees for spending time and attention on this research; without
their corporation this research would simply be impossible. I very much enjoyed interviewing
knowledgeable people regarding the topic that interested me so much.
At last, but certainly not least, I wish to thank my parents Joop and Janine for their unconditional
support during my study. Having said that, I hope you enjoy reading this thesis.

Johan Sol
Amsterdam, March 2011


This thesis aims to reveal the microfoundations that undergird organizational creative capacity
by conducting a multiple-case study. This thesis first explains that organizational creative
capacity is a subset of the broader domain of organizational innovative capacity. This is
followed by an extensive literature review that draws on literature from various fields within
social sciences in order to gather the variables currently known to influence organizational
creative capacity. A multiple-case study at six different high-tech firms is conducted in order
to verify and complement our understanding of the microfoundations fundamental to
organizational creative capacity.
Keywords: Organizational creative capacity; creativity; competitive advantage; sensing
capabilities; sensing microfoundations


Preface ..................................................................................................................................................... 2
Abstract ................................................................................................................................................... 3
1.0 Introduction ...................................................................................................................................... 6
2.0 Theoretical framework ...................................................................................................................... 9
2.1 Dynamic capabilities & organizational creativity .......................................................................... 9
2.2 Creativity ..................................................................................................................................... 13
2.3 Creativity from a strategic perspective ....................................................................................... 15
2.4 Organizational creativity ............................................................................................................. 16
2.4.1 Variables related to individual creativity .............................................................................. 18 Individual creativity assessment ................................................................................... 20 Knowledge ..................................................................................................................... 26 Creativity training .......................................................................................................... 27 Intrinsic motivation ....................................................................................................... 28 Extrinsic motivation ....................................................................................................... 29 Work pressure ............................................................................................................... 29
2.4.2. Variables related to group creativity ................................................................................... 30 Whole brain theory ....................................................................................................... 31 Creative problem solving tools ...................................................................................... 32
2.4.3 Variables related to both individual and group creativity .................................................... 33 Culture ........................................................................................................................... 34 Physical environment .................................................................................................... 38 Resource availability ...................................................................................................... 39
3.0 Research method ............................................................................................................................ 40
3.1 Overall design .............................................................................................................................. 40
3.2 Data collection ............................................................................................................................. 40
3.3 Data analysis ................................................................................................................................ 42
4.0 Results ............................................................................................................................................. 43
4.1 Results related to individual creativity ........................................................................................ 43
4.1.1 Creativity assessment ........................................................................................................... 43
4.1.2 Motivation ............................................................................................................................ 47
4.1.3 Work pressure ...................................................................................................................... 49

4.1.4 Creativity training ................................................................................................................. 50
4.2. Results related to group creativity ............................................................................................. 50
4.2.1 Whole brain theory .............................................................................................................. 51
4.2.2 Creative problem solving techniques ................................................................................... 52
4.3 Results related to both individual and group creativity .............................................................. 53
4.3.1 Culture .................................................................................................................................. 53
4.3.2 Physical environment ........................................................................................................... 56
4.3.3 Resource availability ............................................................................................................. 56
5.0 Discussion ........................................................................................................................................ 57
5.1 Discussion on individual creativity level ...................................................................................... 58
5.1.1 Creativity assessment ........................................................................................................... 58
5.1.2. Stimulating creativity at individual level ............................................................................. 61
5.2 Discussion on group creativity level ............................................................................................ 63
5.3 Discussion on variables related to both individual and group creativity .................................... 65
5.4 Managerial implications .............................................................................................................. 65
5.5 Theoretical implications .............................................................................................................. 66
5.6 Future research ........................................................................................................................... 67
Appendix A ............................................................................................................................................ 69
Appendix B ............................................................................................................................................ 71
References ............................................................................................................................................. 72


1.0 I ntroduction

During the last decade much academic attention has been paid to the dynamic capabilities
theory which aims to explain performance differentials in volatile technology-intensive
markets (Ambrosini & Bowman, 2009). In these environments, where technological progress
plays a dominant role, firms that continually create, extend, upgrade, protect, and keep
relevant their unique asset base will survive and prosper (Teece, 2007, p. 1319). In other
words, firms that are able to capture a significant stake of the value created by a technological
advancement will be able to survive and prosper. However, this leaves open the question of
how value is created in these firms and thereby ignores an important aspect in explaining
performance differentials among high-tech firms. This is a critical gap in the dynamic
capabilities theory as before capturing value it is important to first create it.
Understanding the process of value creation requires identifying the microfoundations
required for value creation. While we have an idea of the microfoundations for capturing
value Irom Teece`s seminal paper (2007), a similar account for creating value eludes us.
Teece (2007) describes various microfoundations that are required for capturing value and
defines these as distinct skills, processes, procedures, organizational structures, decision rules
and disciplines. However, the microfoundations for capturing value cannot simply be
extended to the microfoundations for creating value. In this paper I will firstly explain that
organizational creative capacity plays a fundamental role in value creation and is of great
importance from a strategic management perspective. After that, this thesis aims to address
the following research question: Which microfoundations undergird organizational creative
capacity? It is important to understand how organizations develop and sustain organizational
creative capacity, essentially the microfoundations associated with organizational creativity.

One of the fundamental pillars of the dynamic capabilities theory is sensing
opportunities that can ultimately result in creation of value for the firms. Yet, there is not
much research on how to sense new opportunities. To address this gap I suggest that the
dynamic capabilities theory should be complemented with the literature on organizational
creativity in order to provide a more solid explanation for performance differentials among
dynamic high-tech markets.
In spite of the importance to organizations, creativity has received relatively little
attention from strategic management scholars. A possible explanation for this could be
because creativity is considered to be the same as innovation. However, these two concepts
are fundamentally different. Creativity as human behavior can lead to creative output like new
knowledge which can, if valuable and appropriate, be applied in new products or services
surrounded by appropriate business models. In case these new products or services are
introduced on the marketplace, they are considered to be an innovation. Therefore, creativity
is a subset of the entire innovation process.
The dynamic capabilities theory assumes that opportunities from technological
advancements simply exist and therefore only describes how to identify this and subsequently
capture value from it by engaging in technological advancements. The fundamental driver
behind these innovations, human creativity, has received very little attention in the strategic
management literature. However, organizations often have to create and toil hard to develop
new ideas that have the potential to be translated into innovations. In this paper, therefore I
seek to understand how organizations develop and secure organizational creative capacity that
allows them to develop innovations.
In order to reveal these value creating microfoundations a multiple-case study is
conducted at six high-tech firms. This multiple-case study is largely based on the framework
on organizational creativity of Woodman et al. (1993) as this is the most comprehensive

framework on organizational creativity. In order to understand the complex phenomenon of
human creativity, this framework is complemented by creativity literature derived from the
psychology discipline.
The structure of this paper is as follows. In the following chapter, various relevant
literature on (organizational) creativity from various fields will be discussed. In the third
section, the research method will be described. The results of the multiple-case study will be
described in section four. In the subsequent section, section five, a discussion will take place
wherein the results are being compared with the theories as described in the theoretical
framework section.


2.0 Theoretical framewor k

2.1 Dynamic capabilities & organizational creativity
The focus area of this research, high-tech-industries, will be more important by the day as
these industries increasingly determine economic growth (Mowery & Rosenberg, 1989).
These high-tech sectors are to a large extent driven by technological change which is
occurring continuously. Because the number of innovations brought to the marketplace is
significantly higher in this industry than in say the retail or the steel industry, this sector
significantly more dynamic. In high-tech industries, progress is fuelled by new product
introductions and not by efficiency gains resulting from process innovations. Likewise,
sustainable competitive advantage in these industries is also largely unaffected by efficiency
gains; 'Improving quality, controlling costs, lowering inventories, and adopting best
practices will no longer suffice for long-run competitive success` (Teece, 2007, p. 1346). This
notion is supported by Porter (1996) as he states: 'The quest for productivitv, qualitv, and
speed has spawned a remarkable number of management tools and techniques, total quality
management benchmarking, time-based competition, outsourcing, partnering, reengineering
and change management. Although the resulting operational improvements have been
dramatic, many companies have been frustrated by their inability to translate gains into
sustainable profitabilitv` (p. 61). The inability to achieve competitive advantage from these
efficiency measures is probably due to the increasingly global open character of these high-
tech sectors in which all firms use the same widespread efficiency measures. This widespread
usage ultimately results in relative zero performance differentials.
Besides that a focus on efficiency does not lead to sustainable competitive advantage,
manuIacturing economies oI scale are either insuIIicient. Teece (2007) states that 'Nor do
traditional scale economies in production always have the differentiating power they may

once had. More than scale and scope advantage are needed` (p. 1346). The reduced
effectiveness of traditional scale economies in manufacturing is caused by the popularity of
outsourcing. As more and more firms are outsourcing their manufacturing processes scale
economies will be achieved at the outsourcing partner and therefore making outsourcing even
more attractive. In other words, company assets become industry assets.
Rather than efficiency measures and economies of scale, it is innovation that leads to
competitive advantage. Nevertheless, in these volatile high-tech markets innovation only
leads to temporary competitive advantage instead of sustainable competitive advantage as
subsequent innovation will lead to altered competitive positions. According to this
Schumpeterian view (Schumpeter, 1934) the purpose of the firm is to seize competitive
opportunity by creating or adopting innovations that make rivals` position obsolete: 'this kind
of competition is as much more effective than [price competition over existing products] as a
bombardment is on comparison with forcing a door¨ (Schumpeter, 1950, p. 84). This
Schumpeterian view and the dynamic capabilities view seem to agree that technological
progress is the main value creator in these markets. Nevertheless, Teece (2007) is more
concerned about sustainable competitive advantage which means that he is more concerned
about how to manage and organize a firm in such a way that it is able to capture value from
subsequent innovations over the long run. In order to achieve this, the dynamic capabilities
theory states that a firm should possess three capabilities: sensing, seizing and reconfiguring
capabilities. Sensing is related to the identification of technological advancements and other
opportunities that could inIluence a company`s competitive position. Seizing is related to the
transformation of these identified (technological) opportunities into products and services
surrounded by appropriate business models to extract economic rents from these products and
services. Reconfiguration capabilities are related to the ability to combine, reconfigure and
protect assets that efficiently facilitate operational business models. Teece (2007) explains

that these capabilities subsequently consist out oI microIoundations; ¨distinct skills,
processes, procedures, organi:ational structures, decision rules, and disciplines` (p. 1319).
The microfoundations described in the paper of Teece (2007) are largely related to
value capturing and, to a large extent, ignore the microfoundations required for value creation
(i.e. creating technological advancements). It is unlikely that firms solely aim to capture value
from technological advancements while not creating technological advancements themselves.
However, in some cases the sensing capability could play an important role during the
initiation of the innovation process as customer sensing could reveal unmet technological
needs. Appropriate innovations make possible to fulfill these unmet technological needs.
Teece (2007) provides good insight into the microfoundations required for identifying these
unmet needs but on the other hand fails to explain which microfoundations underlie the
development of these technological advancements itself. The subsequent question therefore
should be: which microfoundations are required for creating technological advancements?
The paper advanced claims that organizational creative capacity plays a fundamental role into
creating technological advancements and therefore aims to reveal microfoundations related to
organizational creativity.

Technological advancement is initiated by the creation of new knowledge (Popaiduk & Choo,
2006, p. 308). Knowledge creation is largely based on human creativity. II there wasn`t any
creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns
(de Bono, 1992). This implies that organizations should support (creative) individuals in order
to stimulate the creative process resulting in creative products. (Nonaka, 1994, p. 17).
Besides being fundamental to technological innovation, human creativity is also a prerequisite
Ior entrepreneurial opportunity recognition. Innovative business models like Dell Inc`s and
Wall-Mart`s are also products of human creativity and illustrate that creativity is also

important to other areas then technology as well. Schumpeter (1934) was the first one to link
creativity as intrinsic personal quality with the ability to recognize entrepreneurial
opportunities. Ardichvili et al. (2003) list Iive key Iactors that inIluence someone`s ability to
identify and develop entrepreneurial opportunities: alertness, prior knowledge, optimism,
social networks and creativity.

Having explained the importance and role of (organizational) creativity, one particular
inherent characteristic of organizational creativity should be highlighted from a strategic
viewpoint. One distinguishing attribute of organizational creative capacity is that it cannot be
acquired from a marketplace and that it cannot be executed on command. This property of
organizational creativity is in stark contrast to many other rent generating resources like most
tangible assets or in some cases knowledge. Organizational creative capacity is to a large
extent based on (the interaction between) human capacities, human mindsets / attitudes, and
environmental influences. Human mindsets / attitudes cannot be selected or activated, this has
to be stimulated through an organizational culture. Managers therefore need to have a
thorough understanding of which microfoundations are fundamental to organizational creative
capacity. This research is based on the premise that individual creativity is dependent on the
interaction of the employee itself with its environment. This interactionist notion is introduced
by Woodman & Schoenfeldt (1990). 'From an interactionalist perspective, the behaviour of
an organism at any point in time is a complex interaction of the situation and something else
this something else is the nature of the organism itself'(p. 279-280). Some years later,
Woodman et al. (1993) proposed a framework on organizational creativity based on this
interactionist notion. This framework goes one step further by analyzing group creativity and
organizational creativity as well. This framework analysis organizational creativity on three
different levels; the individual, the group and the organization while incorporating a variety of

variables. In dynamic capabilities terms these variables can be seen as microfoundations as
they contain processes, skills, capacities and structures that undergird organizational creative
capacity. This thesis is, to a large extent, based on this framework as this framework offers a
solid basis for investigating the microfoundations fundamental to organizational creative
Before the framework on organizational creativity will be illustrated and described, two other
topics will be discussed. Firstly, in order to avoid miscommunication, a more in-depth
description of creativity itself will be given. Secondly, the current state of creativity research
from a strategic management perspective will be described. Thereafter, the framework on
organizational creativity will be explained and discussed.

2.2 Creativity
While the management literature, to a large extent, ignores the role and aspects of creativity,
various other fields do spend much attention on creativity research. Creativity is a widely
studied subject that is investigated from a variety of perspectives. Equally diverse are the
various definitions used to define the concept but the most common definition is 'the abilitv
to produce work that is both novel (i.e. original, unexpected) and appropri ate (i.e. useful,
adaptive concerning task constraints'(Sternberg & Lubart, 1999, p. 3). Most definitions of
creativity have two familiar components. First, it is related to something new, different or
innovative. Second, the creative product should be appropriate and useful (Kaufman &
Sternberg, 2010a). The focus of this research is on organizational creativity capacity which I
define as the capacity to create valuable, useful new products, services, ideas, procedures, or
processes by individuals working together in a complex social system. This definition is
partly based on the definition of Woodman et al. (1993, p. 293). Organizational creative
capacity is not the same as innovative capacity but can be seen as a subset of innovative

capacity (p.293). Organizational innovative capacity can be defined as the capacity to
introduce valuable, useful new products, services, ideas, procedures, or processes. In similar
vein, seizing capacity (e.g. ability to transform creative output into business models) can be
perceived as another subset of innovative capacity. However, organizational creative capacity
is a difficult to measure construct as creative outcomes appear in various forms (i.e. patents,
ideas, products, etc.) of which quantity and quality are often difficult to measure.
As mentioned above, creativity has received a lot of attention from scholars. Creativity related
theories and research can be divided into 4 categories: process, product, person, and place.
Research related to process refers to theories that focus on the creative process and therefore
'aim to understand the nature of the mental mechanisms that occur when a person is engaged
in creative thinking or creative activitv` (Kaufman & Sternberg, 2010, p. 24). Theories and
studies related to the product aspect focuses on creative product itself. Creative products
could be works of art, inventions, publications, musical compositions etc. (p. 24). These
studies are related to the evaluation of products by examining originality, relevance,
useIulness and complexity. The inherent weakness oI these studies is that they don`t tell
anything about the creative process or about the creative personality that created the creative
product. Therefore, other studies aim to discover whether creative persons share certain
personality traits, properties, or behaviors. The last category of creativity research is on the
place aspect. Place, or sometimes referred to as environment, studies variables such as
structures, resources, strategies, leadership styles and more.
However, in order to understand creativity in an organizational context a holistic
approach is required which means that several of these aspects should be incorporated. Only a
few researchers in management have attempted to construct an integral framework on
organizational creativity. The most comprehensive framework, the framework of Woodman et
al.(1993), incorporates theories from all four categories. More specific, process theories will

be used for analyzing the applied creative problem solving methods. Product and personality
theories will be applied in the creativity assessment section as possible basis for assessing
individual creative capacity. Finally, theories related to the place category will be used for
discovering which environmental aspects influence organizational creativity. Before this
framework will be described in more depth, two alternative frameworks on organizational
creativity will be discussed.

2.3 Creativity f rom a st rategic perspective
The field of strategic management has been dominated by various waves of dominant topics.
Efficiency dominated the 1950s and 1960s, quality dominated in the 1970s and 1980s,
flexibility in the 1980s and 1990s, and we now live in the age of (open) innovation. In the last
two decades scholars have been increasingly paying attention to innovation as competitive
advantage becomes more and more dependent on the ability to innovate. This focus on
innovation brings with, although still relatively little, an increased attention on organizational
creativity as organizational creativity can be seen as subset of the broader domain of
innovation (Woodman et al., 1993, p. 293). This attention is mostly allocated to the
development and validation of frameworks on organizational creativity that aim to describe
the underlying microfoundations of organizational creative capacity.
Three prominent frameworks on organizational creativity exist. Amabile (1988) was
the first to introduce her componential model on organizational creativity. This model
considers creativity on individual, team and the organizational level. Amabile mentions that
domain-relevant skill (e.g. the basic skills that lead to competent performance in a given
field), creativity-relevant skills (e.g. domain general creativity skills like cognitive style and
divergent thinking abilities) and task motivation (e.g. intrinsic and extrinsic motivators)
influence individual creativity. At the organizational level, Amabile (1997) predicts that

creativity is dependent on resources (e.g. sufficient time, training etc.), management practices
(e.g. support, debate, communication, freedom etc.) and organizational motivation (e.g.
orientation toward creativity and innovation). The second model on organizational creativity
is the model of Ekvall (1996). The framework on organizational creativity of Ekvall (1996)
lists 10 factors which collectively describe the creative climate in an organization. These 10
factors are: idea time, risk taking, challenge, freedom, idea support, conflicts, debates,
playfulness/humor, trust openness, dynamism/liveliness (p. 107, 108). The third model, the
model of Woodman et al. (1993), is preferred over these two alternatives as this model is most
comprehensive (e.g. takes into account more variables that could influence creative
behaviour) and allows for a more structured research design.

2.4 Organizational creativity
In this thesis the model of Woodman et al. (1993) is used as a starting point for investigating
organizational creative capacity. This framework is developed for understanding creativity in
complex social settings like the firms under investigation. The framework considers creativity
at three different levels: individual level, group level and the organizational level. In this
thesis, the focus is on the individual level and the group level as organizational creativity is
solely dependent on group creativity as illustrated in the model. Figure 2.1 illustrates the
According to this model, individual creativity depends on antecedent conditions, cognitive
style and ability, personality factors, relevant knowledge, motivation, social influences and
contextual influences (p. 295, 296). Group level creativity is, besides of individual creativity,
dependent on group composition, group characteristics, group processes and contextual
influences (p. 296).

Figure 2.1 Framework on organizational creativity (Woodman et al., 1993, p. 295)

As mentioned, this framework serves as a starting point for investigating organizational
creativity. Yet, two actions are executed for making this framework useful for this research. In
the first place, some of the variables are categorized. This means that the variables antecedent
conditions, cognitive style, and personality are categorized under the section creativity
assessment. This because these variables are only relevant from a recruitment perspective as
these variables could serve as indicators for individual creative capacity during job
application processes. Secondly, the variables creativity training, extrinsic motivation and
work pressure are added. The reason for these additions is the fact that several scientific
papers have indicated that these variables influence individual creativity.


Some variables in the framework are related to both individual creativity and group creativity.
As a consequence, the variables social influences, physical environment and resource
availability are discussed in a separate section that describes variables related to both
individual as well group creativity.
All the variables at each level that are taken into consideration for this research are
summarized in the tables 2.1, 2.2, 2.3. In the following sections all the variables at each level
will be described in more detail.
2.4.1 Variables related to individual creativity
In order to enhance individual creative capacity, firms can roughly do two things. In the first
place, firms can select employees with the greatest creative capacity, or at least, select people
that have the potential to behave creative. Therefore, firms should assess candidates on their
creative capacity/potential during recruitment phases. The first part of this section is on
creativity assessment and answers questions such as: Are there appropriate assessments
available for assessing creative capacity? And if there are, how reliable are they?
The second influence firms can practice is that they can facilitate their current employees in
such a way that creative behavior is likely to occur. Various factors, such as creativity
training, intrinsic motivation and others, are discussed after the individual creativity
assessment section.

Variables related to individual creativity
Related variable /
Description Related authors Focus of
A-factor Antecedent factors Various antecedent factors such as education appear to have an
influence on individual creative capacity
Dantus (1999) Yes HR QS 11
P-factor Personality traits
related to creativity
Broad interests, attraction to complexity, high energy,
independence of judgment, autonomy, intuition, self-
confidence, persistence, curiosity, tolerance for ambiguity,
willingness to grow, risk taking
Barron & Harrington
(1981), Amabile (1988)
Yes HR QS 11
CS-factor Cognitive style
Cognitive style refers to the ways in which people choose to use
or exploit their intelligence as well as their knowledge. Various
assessments developed.
Sternberg (1988),
Myers-Briggs, Herrman
Yes HR QS 11,
12, 17
CS-factor Creativity assessments Various assessments are developed to assess individuals`
creative capacity.

Plucker & Runco (1998),
Kaufman et al. (2008)
Yes HR QS 11,
K-factor Possession of relevant
Two contradictious theories regarding to the level of knowledge
and its influence on creativity. However, stronger empirical
support exists for the theory that assumes a linear relationship
between knowledge and creativity
Weisberg (1999), Hayes

No - -
IM-factor Intrinsic motivation Intrinsic motivation is defined as the motivation to engage in an
activity primarily for its own sake, because the individual
perceives the activity as interesting, involving, satisfying, or
personally challenging
Amabile (1990),
Woodman et al. (1993)

Yes HR QS 11,
- Extrinsic motivation Extrinsic motivation is defined as the motivation to engage in
an activity primarily in order to meet some goal external to the
work itself, such as attaining an expected reward, winning a
competition, or meeting some requirement.
Amabile (1990, 1993,
Yes HR QS 11,
15, 16,
- Work pressure Intense workloads, time pressures and frequent work
interruptions led professional workers to be almost half as
creative as they would otherwise be
Sutton (2002), Amabile
Yes HR QS 17
- Creativity training A wide range of creativity training programs exist that have
proven to be effective.
Montouri (1992), Smith
Yes HR QS 8
Table 2.1 ± Variables related to individual creativity Individual creativity assessment
In recent decades much efforts are spend on developing formalized individual creativity
assessments. However, before these formalized assessment tools are discussed, various
indicators for individual creativity potential are discussed. These variables include antecedent
conditions, personality and cognitive style.
Antecedent conditions
Antecedent conditions refer to individual background characteristics that result in differences
in individual creative capacity. The list with all antecedent conditions is potentially lengthy
but can roughly be categorized into three main subvariables: biographical characteristics,
socioeconomic status and educational background. Biographical influences refer to gender
differences, races, handedness etc.. Although researchers found significant differences
amongst socioeconomic and biographical variables, for this research they will be left out as
they are difficult to measure and in some cases unethical to study.
The third antecedent subvariable is educational background. This subvariable appears to have
a signiIicant inIluence on individuals` creative capacity. For example, research oI Dantus
(1999) shows that Montessori education fosters creative capacity of children. The practical
implication oI this is that recruiters could take into consideration applicants` educational

In the literature on creativity much is written about the shared personality of creative
individuals (Martindale, 1989). The most cited article on this specific topic is the article of
Barron and Harrington(1981) who found a large set of traits that often characterize creative
people. These traits include independence of judgment, self-confidence, attraction to
complexity, broad interests and risk taking (p. 453). Amabile (1988) extended this list by

adding traits like high-energy, autonomy, intuition, persistence, curiosity, tolerance for
ambiguity and willingness to grow.
These creativity related personality traits could be taken into consideration during recruitment
phases. However, caution is required as researchers found agreement on the notion that
personality traits provide only limited predictive value for future creative achievements as
creative behavior is dependent on many more variables.

Cognitive style
Cognitive style, or sometimes referred to as thinking style, are the ways in which people
choose to use or exploit their intelligence as well as their knowledge (Sternberg & Lubart,
1993, p. 229). A cognitive style is not the same as an ability but is rather a preferred way of
using the abilities one has (Sternberg & Grigorenko, 1997, p. 700). Cognitive style is either
not the same as personality but represents a bridge between cognition and personality (p.
701). Some cognitive styles are more likely to demonstrate creative behavior (p. 700). In
order to determine individual cognitive style various assessments are developed.

One approach to classify different cognitive styles is the theory of mental self-government
initiated by Sternberg (1988). This framework describes cognitive styles on 5 dimensions:
functions of mental self-government, forms of mental self-government, levels of mental self-
government, scope of mental-self government and leanings of mental self-government
(Sternberg & Grigorenko, 1997, p. 707). Under functions of mental self-government three
main styles exist: legislative, executive and judicial. The legislative style characterizes people
that enjoy creating and formulating and these people do things often on their own way (p.
707). They have their own approach for solving problems and dislike pre-structures or rules.
In contrast, executive style people do like rules and use existing methods and structures and

therefore can be seen as implementers. The judicial style characterizes people that like to
judge and evaluate. Research related to creativity has shown that a creative person is likely to
be a legislative individual. However, people are to some extent flexible in the usage of
different styles and will try to adapt their thinking style to the task they are working on. On
the other four cognitive style dimension no relationship with creative individuals is known
which makes this framework not very useful from a creativity research perspective neither
from a practical recruitment perspective.

The well-known Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (hereafter MBTI) is an alternative for assessing
cognitive style. This instrument is widely used in business and education and is largely based
on personality traits (Sternberg & Grigorenko, 1997, p. 704). Based on the MBTI theory a
specific tool for assessing creativity is developed: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Creativity
Index (MBTI-CI). While making use of the MBTI-CI instrument Gouch (1981) found that
creative individuals '.tend to be more intuitive ('N`) rather than sensorv ('S`), more
perceiving ('P`) rather than fudging ('J`), more extroverted ('E`) rather than introverted
('I`), and more thinking ('T`) rather than feeling ('F`)` (Stevens et al., 1999, p. 461). In
the study of Gough (1981) he found an average score of 235.5 on a total of 89.000 persons
within a range of MBTI CI scores of -84.5 to +547.5 for highly creative individuals.
Gouch(1981) estimates that people with CI scores above 350 are especially likely to show
breakthrough creativity.

Another well-known instrument for assessing cognitive style is the Herrman Brain
Dominance Instrument (hereaIter HBDI). This instrument determines one`s thinking proIile
from responses to a 120-question survey form. The resulting profile appoints the preferred
mode of thinking and processing information (Lumsdaine & Lumsdaine, 1994, p. 5).

Roughly, there are 4 main profiles corresponding with the four quadrants (labeled A,B,C,D)
in our brain. that are labeled A,B,C,D. Quadrant D is mostly related to creative thinking as
this is related to imaginative, spatial, idea-intuitive, flexible, creative and is concerned with
possibilities, change, innovation, visions and entrepreneurship (p. 5).

These cognitive style assessments are also particularly useful for composing diverse teams as
cognitive abrasion is positively related to team innovativeness (Leonard & Straus, 1997).
More about cognitive diversity under the whole brain theory section.

Creativity assessments
Besides the various indicators for creative potential as mentioned in the previous section,
various formalized creativity assessments are available. In the article of Plucker & Runco
(1998) they describe the recent state of scientific creativity assessment research. They state
that the divergent thinking (DT) test is the most popular technique for measuring creativity (p.
36). Divergent thinking can be conceptualized as '.involving cognitive processes that help
one produce multiple responses to open-ended questions or problems¨ (KauIman et al., 2008,
p. 16). Divergent thinking is perceived as the opposite of convergent thinking in which
cognitive processes are used to produce one or very few possible solutions to a given
problem. Within DT tests four aspects are measured: fluency, originality, flexibility, and
elaboration. Fluency refers to the number of responses to a given stimuli whereas originality
refers to the uniqueness of responses to a given stimuli that can be measured by the statistical
infrequency. Flexibility refers to the number and / or uniqueness of categories of responses to
a given stimuli whereas elaboration refers to the extension of ideas within a specific category
of responses to a given stimuli.

Most DT tests have proven to reach an acceptable level of reliability and concurrent
validity (Kaufman et al., 2008, p. 39). Yet, due to mixed findings no consensus has been
reached on the question whether DT tests meet a threshold level of predictive validity
(Howieson, 1981; Runco, 1986a; Kogan & Pankove, 1974; Weisberg, 1993).

The second main stream of creativity assessment is the Consensual Assessment Technique
(CAT). Instead of focusing on the creative capacity of an individual, these tests focus on the
creative product. Subjects are being asked to create something and experts are then asked to
evaluate the creativity oI those products (KauIman et al., 2008, p. 56). Individuals` creative
capacity is deducted from the collective judgement of recognized experts on the creative
product. Where DT tests are standardized and scores applicable everywhere, CAT is a relative
measure again the rest of the group. These independent raters typically evaluate students work
on novelty, problem resolution, and elaboration and synthesis attributes of products (Kaufman
et al., 2008, p. 53)
Because CAT assessments are based on the actual products created by subjects and
because it compares against each other, this measure should be very useful for recruitment
purposes. Potential candidates can for example be faced with a case study that they have to
solve. The proposed solution can be assessed on creativity from which creative capacity can
be derived. Nevertheless, recruiters need to take into account that creativity could be domain
specific. Still, the discussion on whether creativity is domain-specific or domain-general is
ongoing due to mixed research findings (Silvia et al., 2009).
The CAT technique has strong face validity, in other words, it measures exactly what
it looks like it measures (Kaufman et al., 2008, p. 59). The predictive validity of the CAT
technique is limited to the specific domain in which the test is taken. In case a minimum of

five experts are used an acceptable to high rate of inter-rater reliability will be achieved
(Amabile, 1996).

The third mainstream of creativity assessments is the assessment by others (also: ABO).
Although it seems to be the same as the CAT method, it is different in that it asks the raters to
judge the creativity of a person as a whole instead oI the person`s products (KauIman et al.,
2008, p. 84). This means that the assessment by others is based on the traits and abilities one
believes the people being judged possess that are relevant to creativity and not on the creative
output (p. 84). This assessment could be executed by for example teachers, peers or parents
like at the CAT method. The main concern with the ABO technique is that raters often have
wrong perceptions of creativity traits and associations of creativity and therefore make wrong
judgements (Pearlman, 1983). The most popular ABO assessment is the Williams scale that is
part of a larger assessment package used to assess gifted children. Although quite often used
by educational instances, Cooper (1991) concluded that the Williams scale 'could not be
recommended as an adequate assessment of the complex dimensions of creativitv` (Cooper,
1991, p. 196). This conclusion is supported by the Centre of Creative learning (2002a) as they
rate both reliability and validity as poor. Also other ABO assessments appear to lack validity
(Kaufman, 2008, p. 99). Kaufman therefore concludes that although ABO cannot be used on a
standalone basis, it could give a valuable contribution when used in combination with other
kinds of assessments (Kaufman, 2008, p. 99).

In sum, divergent thinking tests appear to be the best tool for measuring creative capacity as
they meet a threshold level of validity and reliability. Nevertheless, the predictive value of DT
tests remains questionable. In contrast, the predictive value of CAT assessments is proven to

be sufficient although it is restrained to the specific domain in which it is tested. The intuitive
ABO method can be used as supplement to the two previous techniques. Knowledge
Existing knowledge is the fundamental pillar for creativity as creative ideas are always build
on existing knowledge. The relationship between knowledge and creativity is a heavily
debated one as there exist two contradictory theories. The first theory states that someone
needs to posses deep knowledge of a specific field if one hopes to produce something novel
within it. The opposing theory on the other hand states that '.too much experience can leave
one in ruts, so that one cannot go beyond stereotyped responding` (Weisberg, 1999, p. 226).
In other words, the second theory predicts that the relationship between knowledge and
creative performance is like an inverted U-shape while the first theory predicts that the
relationship is a linear with a threshold level of expertise needed for a creative
Both theories are widely studied (Weisberg, 1999). Hayes (1989) made an important
contribution regarding the first theory by investigating the time needed to reach master-level
creative performance in several fields like composers, painters, poets, chess masters and
scientists. Hayes (1989) found that, among all fields, that even the most noteworthy and
'talented¨ individuals required many years, at least 10 years, oI preparation beIore they began
to produce 'notable¨ work or 'masterwork¨ (p. 230). During their 'preparation time¨ much oI
this time is spent on internalizing what has already has been done in the discipline and
acquiring knowledge and skills to perform at world-class level (p. 231).
In the article of Weisberg (1999) wherein he reviews these two contradictious theories
he finds that the empirical support for the U-shape theory is weak. He therefore concludes that
creativity and knowledge are positively related and that a creative artist on a certain point
needs to break away from his existing knowledge in order to make a creative contribution.

This breaking away can be done by applying knowledge from different fields that could result
in a new perspective. Consider the following situation, discussed by DeBono (1967):
'For manv vears phvsiologists could not understand the purpose of the long loops in the
kidney tubules: it was assumed that the loops had no special function and were a relic of the
way the kidney had evolved. Then one day an engineer looked at the loops and at once
recognized that they could be part of a counter-current multiplier, a well known engineering
device for increasing the concentration of liquids. In this instance, a fresh look from outside
provided an answer to something that had been a pu::le for a long time.` (p. 148-149)
This example exemplifies the breaking away notion as mentioned above. This creative
achievement can be fully attributed to the combination of knowledge from different fields and
has relatively little to do with individual creative capacities or creative problem solving
From practical considerations (e.g. the influence of knowledge is a research itself), it is
decided to not include the knowledge variable. Because of the firm evidence of the
importance of knowledge on creativity this will not harm the research as the importance is
already determined. Creativity training
Montouri (1992) states that besides creating incentives, optimization of culture and other
efforts for enhancing creative capacity, creativity training is a preferred one. This preference
is illustrated by the fact that 25% of the organizations employing more than 100 people offer
some form of creativity training (Solomon, 1990). A wide range of training programs exists in
content as well as in delivery methods of the courses as for example Smith (1998) identified
172 techniques / instructual methods attributed for enhancing divergent thinking skills. In the
article of Scott et al. (2004) they studied the effectiveness of the different training methods
and found that creativity training is effective and beneficial for a wide variety of people. More

specific, training can have large effects on each of the four major criteria applied in training:
divergent thinking, problem solving, performance, and attitudes and behavior (p. 381). Intrinsic motivation
Many creativity scholars perceive intrinsic motivation as a key element for creative
achievements (Amabile, 1993). Intrinsic motivation can be defined as performing an activity
for its inherent satisfaction rather than for some separable consequence (Ryan & Deci, 2000,
p. 56). The importance of intrinsic motivation is highlighted by the fact that Amabile (1997)
found that a high degree of intrinsic motivation can make up for a deficiency of expertise or
creative thinking skills. She explains this phenomenon by stating that a highly motivated
person is likely to put great efforts into his or her task and will probably, when necessary,
acquire and apply skills that are needed to complete the task (Amabile, 1997, p. 44).
Although sometimes perceived as uncontrollable, Amabile (1997) found several
factors that positively influence intrinsic motivation. One important factor is the freedom
someone has in how to perform a dedicated task. Individuals that are restrained in the choice
of their task strategy will less likely to be intrinsically motivated and will therefore be less
likely to behave creative (Woodman et al., 1993, p. 300). Other factors that positively
influence intrinsic motivation are challenge, certain work-group features, supervisory
encouragement and organizational support (Amabile, 1997). Under work-group features fall a
shared excitement over the team`s goal, willingness to assist each other, acknowledgement
each other`s knowledge and perspective (p. 83). One aspect oI supervisory encouragement is a
positive attitude towards suggested ideas. Organizational support can be done putting in place
appropriate systems or procedures and emphasize values that emphasize the top priority of
creativity (p. 84). Another way to support creativity is by stimulate knowledge sharing and by
ensuring political problems do not fester (p. 84).

29 Extrinsic motivation
While not mentioned in the framework on organizational creativity of Woodman et al. (1993),
various literature indicated that extrinsic motivation has an influence on individual creative
behavior (Amabile, 1997). Extrinsic motivation comes from outside the individual which
means that tasks are executed in order to attain some separable outcome (Ryan & Deci, 2000,
p. 56). Extrinsic motivation is the opposite of intrinsic motivation whereby the individual is
motivated by enjoyment or curiosity instead of monetary rewards or annual evaluations.
Amabile (1990) has shown that extrinsic motivation is far less important, or in some cases
even detrimental, for stimulating creative behavior. This detrimental effect can be attributed
to the Iact that extrinsic motivators undermine a person`s sense oI selI-determination
(Amabile, 1997, p. 45).
Nevertheless, not all forms of extrinsic motivation are detrimental to creativity.
Amabile (1993) found that certain forms of extrinsic motivation worked synergistically, or at
last not undermining, with intrinsic motivation. Under these extrinsic forms fall reward and
recognition for creative ideas, clearly defined overall project goals, and frequent constructive
feedback on the performed work (Amabile, 1997, p. 45). Work pressure
Sutton (2002) observed that management scholars and practitioners alike increasingly
complain about the lack of creative output by professionals. A possible reason for this lack of
creativity is the increasing workloads caused by downsizing pressures of shareholders that
want to increase efficiency by reducing human resources. Elsbach & Hargadon (2006) found
that intense workloads, time pressures and frequent work interruptions led professional
workers to be almost half as creative as they would otherwise be. These findings are
supported by Hallowell (2005) and Perlow (2001) that both found that time pressure as well

as frequent interruptions significantly reduces individual creativity. Yet, there are a few
exceptions at which high work pressures, to a certain extent, do not affect creative
performance (Amabile et al., 2002). One condition for this unaffected creative performance is
focus. If people can concentrate for a longer period on a single task they still can be creative
despite high workloads. This requires some degree of isolation and limited collaboration. The
second condition Ior 'legitimate¨ high work pressures is when employees interpret the high
work pressure as a meaningful urgency. Employees that understand why solving a problem or
completing a job is crucial will be more likely to remain creative as they will Ieel they are 'on
a mission¨ (Amabile, 2002, p. 59).
2.4.2 Variables related to group creativity
The previous section described variables related to individual creativity. However, individual
behaviour is to a large extent influenced by the interaction with other individuals. As a
consequence, several more variables need to be considered for investigating organizational
creativity. This paper will now continue with describing the variables related to group
creativity. An overview of the variables related to group creativity is given in table 2.2.
Variables related group creativity
variable /
Description Related authors Focus of
COMP Whole
A innovative teams needs
to have a variety of
thinking styles /
backgrounds that are
properly combined and
Leonard &
Straus (1997),
Herman (1981)
Yes HR,
QS 18
CHAR Leadership
Amabile et al. found
several specific leader
behaviours that have a
significant influence on
subordinate`s creative
Amabile et al.
No - -

Table 2.2 ± Variables related to group creativity Whole brain theory
The cognitive style section described that each individual has a preferred cognitive style
which means that everyone has a preference for the way to process and assimilate data. The
most widely recognized cognitive distinction is between the left brainers and right brainers.
Left brainers are better at performing logical, analytic and mathematical tasks whereas right
brainers are much better at non-verbal ideation, intuition, holistic and synthesizing activities
(Herrmann, 1981, p. 11). These differences reveal themselves in work styles and decision-
making activities (Leonard & Straus, 1997, p. 113). Teams consisting of a variety of cognitive
styles will approach problems from several perspectives and are likely to be more innovative
then homogenous teams. Homogenous teams will have the same way of thinking and looking
at problems and will less likely to questions each other`s assumptions. Solving a problem
often requires a variety of approaches which means that a team should contain both right
brainers as well as left brainers. In other words, a whole brain is required. Cognitive
assessment tools like HBDI and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are well-able to determine
cognitive styles and therefore are useful for composing whole brained teams.
Besides incorporating a diversity of cognitive styles, also other individual differences
like education, company tenure, nationality, age, gender and socioeconomic background
appear to have a positive effect on team innovativeness (Milliken & Martins, 1996).
PROC Creative
Brainwriting Object
stimulation, Metaphors
Wishful thinking, rich
Yes R&D QS 21,
32 Creative problem solving tools
In the article of McFadzean (1998) he describes and categorizes various creative problem
solving (also CPS) tools. MacFadzean (1998) divides creative problem solving methods into
three categories: paradigm preserving, paradigm stretching and paradigm breaking.
Paradigm preserving techniques should be used when there is no intention to introduce new
elements or relationships into the problem (McFadzean, 1998, p. 311). Examples of paradigm
preserving techniques are brainstorming and brainwriting. The philosophy behind
brainstorming is that by restraining evaluation during the divergent phase members are
allowed to build oI others` ideas that results in a greater number of novel ideas (Woodman et
al., 1993, p. 303). However, overwhelming research exists that indicates that individuals
produce fewer ideas in group settings (Stein, 1974). Hackman and Morris (1975) argue that
this reduced performance can be attributed due to process, coordination or motivational
losses. Brainwriting is a derivative of brainstorming but is based on the exchange of written
ideas instead of verbal ideas. This method has the advantage of having parallel discussions.
Besides that, this method negates domination by one or more individuals (McFadzean, 1998,
p. 312).
Paradigm breaking techniques, like the wishful thinking and rich pictures method, encourage
participants to completely break down the boundaries of the problem space and to look at
something entirely new (p. 311). Wishful thinking and rich pictures are paradigm breaking
techniques that require more creative thinking. Wishful thinking forces the participant to look
at a 'perIect Iuture¨ and thereby examines fantasy statements and aims to develop ideas on
how to achieve these fantasy statements (p. 313). This technique requires much patience,
enthusiasm and experience on using this kind of CPS method (p. 313). Another technique that
can be used to look at problems from a totally different perspective is the rich pictures
technique. Participants are asked two draw two pictures: the first picture would be a picture of

how each participant would like to see the situation in the future (p. 314). The second drawing
should represent how they see the current situation. After they have drawn these pictures the
participant should describe their drawings separately including all the properties of the objects
illustrated on the drawings. The aim is to generate new ideas from the descriptions given by
the participants (p. 314).
Between paradigm preserving and paradigm breaking paradigm stretching techniques exist.
These techniques have the goal to encourage users to stretch the boundaries of the problem
space. Object stimulation and metaphors are paradigm stretching techniques. The object
stimulation technique encourages participant to view the situation from a different perspective
by using unrelated stimuli (p. 312). During an object stimulation session participants have to
select and describe an object in detail. The rest of the group should use this description as a
stimulus to generate new ideas. The underlying idea is that these unrelated objects should
enhance combinative capacity in the hope some useful idea arises. Another paradigm
stretching technique is the metaphors technique. Metaphors can be used to create a fantasy
situation so that a new perspective of the problem can be gained (McFadzean, 1998, p. 313).
2.4.3 Variables related to both individual and group creativity
As mentioned earlier, some variables have an influence on both individual as well as on group
level. These variables are summarized below in table 2.3 where after they are described in
more detail.


Table 2.3 ± Variables related to both individual as well group creativity Culture
Martins and Terblanche (2003) offer a comprehensive framework (Figure 2.1) that
incorporates many culture related variables that have a positive influence on creativity and
innovation. The framework is divided into 5 subcategories: strategy, structure, support
mechanisms, behaviour that encourages innovation and communication.
Variables related to both individual and group creativity
variable /
Description Related authors Focus
SI Culture This variable is a collection
of a whole range of
subvariables such as
strategy, structure, support
mechanisms, behavior, and
Martins &
Yes HR QS 13,
CI Physical
Physical environment is
considered to have a
positive influence on
creative behavior. However,
scientiIic evidence doesn`t

Bauer (2004),
Amabile (1996),
Leonard & Swap,
Yes HR QS 6,
CI Resource
The availability of resources
like time, experts, money
has a positive influence on
the development of ideas of
individual employees.
Martins &
Yes HR QS 15

Figure 2.2 - Framework on culture for creativity and innovation (Martins & Terblanche, 2003, p. 70)

Strategy: According to Covey (1993) the mission and vision are the origins of creativity and
innovation and the mission and vision statements should therefore be understood by the whole
organization. From the vision and mission statement management should derive a set of
strategic goals and objectives. Arad et al. (1997) found that it is important to reflect the
purposefulness of the prescribed goals and objectives to ensure employee motivation.

Structure: Several scholars tried to find out which organizational structures promote
innovation (Armstrong, 1995). Arad et al. (1997) found that a flat structure, autonomy and
work teams will promote innovation, whereas specialisation, formalisation, standardisation
and centralisation will inhibit innovation (Martins & Terblanche, 2003, p. 70). Other
supportive features related to structure are flexibility, freedom and cooperative teamwork

whereas rigidity, control, predictability, stability and order will hamper innovation. Of these
factors, freedom and flexibility appear to be the most important ones. Employees face
freedom when they are able to choose their own problem solving strategies within loose
organizational guidelines. This freedom in decision making enhances the level of
empowerment which is subsequently positively related to creativity and innovation (Arad et
al., 1997, p.4). Flexibility can be stimulated by frequent job rotations and flexible job
descriptions (Martins & Terblanche, 2003, p 70). Another structure related factor is the
formation of co-operative teams with open communication and with a variety of backgrounds
(Arad et al., 1997). The interaction between members with various backgrounds could lead to
renewed insights as illustrated in the example of the kidney tubules described in the
knowledge section.

Supporting mechanisms: Martins and Terblanche (2003) mention several support mechanisms
that should be present in organizations that aiming for innovation. The first mechanism is
reward and recognition. Risk taking, experimenting and idea generation should be rewarded
as then it will become the dominant way of behaving (Arad et al., 1997). This experimenting
and idea generation can for example be done by allowing employees to spend 20% of their
time working on their own project. Google is well-known for this construction and it appears
to be very successful as there are periods at which 50% of what Google launches is initiated
and developed in the 20% time part
. Information technology is another important supporting
mechanism as this allows employees to communicate and exchange ideas throughout the
company (Shattow, 1996). The last supporting mechanism that is mentioned by Martins &
Terblanche (2003) is the recruitment, selection and appointment and retention of employees.
This notion, and the consequences of this notion, is widespread described throughout this
thesis and will therefore not be repeated in this section.
Marissa Mayer (VP Search products & Users Experience at
Google) declared this at a conference at Stanford University
June 30, 2006.


Behaviour that encourages innovation: Martins & Terblanche (2003) mention seven different
behavioural forms that promote or inhibit innovation. The first important norm is the freedom
to make mistakes. This means that mistakes should be not be ignored, covered up or punished,
but should be discussed and should be seen as a learning moment (Ryan 1996; Tushman &
O`Reilly, 1997). The amount of mistakes could be reduced by providing employees certain
guidelines. This notion is in the same line oI thinking with the 'Strategy as simple rules¨
theory oI Eisenhardt & Sull (2001). The 'Strategy as simple rules¨ theory suggests that
managers that are facing an abundance of (entrepreneurial) opportunities should have a couple
of rules as guidelines in order to recognize and exploit the most appropriate opportunities.
Rules could be about priorities, timing, or boundaries. For example, boundary rules can help
managers focus on which opportunities to pursue and which are outside the pale. By setting
this kind of rules the change of success will increase without losing innovativeness and
spontaneity of employees.
Another behavioural form is the openness to new ideas. Amabile (1995) found that fair
evaluation of ideas will support and encourage creativity. Also a continuous learning
orientation should support creativity and innovation (Arad et al., 1997). Practically seen this
entails that employees should focus on being inquisitive, keeping their knowledge and skills
up to date and in addition should communicate with people within the company as well as
with people from outside the company.
According to Nystrom (1990) competitiveness within innovative department plays an
important role as debating and constructive conflicts will lead to information flows within the
company. On the other hand one could argue that competitiveness leads to decreased
knowledge transfer as employees could use their knowledge opportunistically by keeping
their knowledge for their own as this will secure their interdependency.

Finally, Martins & Terblanche (2003) mention that support for change is positively related to
creativity and innovation implying that management should create a vision that emphasises
change and includes a positive attitude towards change (p. 72).

Communication: Barret (1997) stresses the importance of an organizational culture that
supports open and transparent communication. An open and transparent culture means that
employees should respect each other`s vision as this exposes paradoxes that could lead to new
insights in case paradoxes are resolved. However, a feeling of trust is required as only then
employees are willing to reveal their opinion.
An open door policy between individuals as well as departments also has a positive influence
on creativity and innovation as this enhances knowledge exchange between entities
(Filipczak, 1997). Physical environment
Although Woodman et al. (1993) mention that physical environment influences creative
behaviour, they don`t explain in which way. According to Bauer (2004), more and more
companies take into account work environment as this has become integral part of their
innovation strategies (p. 7). The impact of work environment on creativity and innovation has
been studied in different fields including ergonomics, sociology, environmental psychology,
human resources and architecture (Haner, 2005). In spite of these efforts 'the direct link
between the design of phvsical space and creativitv is unproven` (Leonard & Swap, 1999, p.
137). Yet, Moultrie et al. (2007) have proposed several workplace designs depending on the
innovation purpose. Unfortunately, their model has not been empirically tested. In spite of the
unknown effect of this variable on creativity, this variable is taken into account during this
39 Resource availability
These time pressures can be perceived as lack of resources (e.g. time). Google and many other
firms solved this problem by allowing their employees to spend 20% of their time on their
own projects. As this principle is already explained under the supporting mechanisms section
this will not be described again. Besides time, also other resources such as budget and
networks, sometimes referred to as slack resources, appear to have a positive influence on
creativity and innovation (Nohria & Gulati, 1996).


3.0 Research method
3.1 Overall design
In order to validate the framework on organizational creativity a multiple-case study research
method is applied. According to Yin (2003), a multiple-case study research method is well-
able to investigate both inductive and deductive research at the same time. This research has
an overall deductive character as an existing framework, although modified, will be validated.
However, it is possible that after conducting data analysis the framework appears to be
incomplete because of newly discovered variables. These new variables will then be added to
the framework and this method makes the research partly inductive.
For this research, the most appropriate way of collecting data is to use the in-depth
interview technique. In-depth interviewing is a method that involves conducting exhaustive
interviews on individual basis with a small number of respondents to explore their
perspectives on a particular topic (Boyce & Neale 2006, p.3). This method allows to both test
theories as well as to build theories. The interview questions will have an overall open-ended
character as this allows the interviewer to test existing theories without directing the
interviewee in a certain direction.
3.2 Data collection
The data collection phase is divided into three sub phases; interview transcript design, case /
interviewee criteria determination, and holding interviews. During the interview transcript
design phase it is the aim to translate the research question into interview questions while
taking into account the theoretical framework. As this research has an overall deductive
character the interview questions can be derived quite directly from the variables mentioned
in tables 2.1, 2.2, 2.3. However, because of the possible inductive character of this research

the interview transcript is complemented with a final open question which has the potential to
reveal overlooked or new variables.
The interview transcript is divided into seven sections. Each section combines
questions of a certain subject. The usage of the various sections depends on the background
and expertise of the interviewee in question. For example, R&D employees (e.g. scientists)
will be confronted with questions on the creative problem solving tools while HR managers
will be confronted with questions concerning creativity assessment. This complete interview
transcript can be found in Appendix A.

In order for this research to meet a threshold level of validity, the cases and the selected
interviewees have to meet certain requirements. Related to the cases, all firms should be
active in dynamic and high-tech markets as this is the field of study. Six cases are considered
as an appropriate number as more cases would increase the practical and research complexity
while a lower number would reduce generalizability and validity. For each firm at least two
perspectives are studied: HR and R&D. The choice for interviewing managers from the HR
department can be attributed to the fact that the HR department is largely responsible for the
development of organizational creativity as this department is responsible for recruitment (of
creative individuals) and to some extent responsible for environment and support of
employees (Mumford, 2000). Employees active at R&D departments, mostly scientists, can
give good insight about the creative process. Therefore, I have chosen to interview R&D
related employees as well. By interviewing employees from both perspectives at least all
variables are at least once discussed per firm. Interviewees interviewed from an HR
perspective should be involved with, or should be at least well informed on the firms` vision
on creativity. The R&D interviewee should be working for at least 1 year at the R&D
department as this time is required for gaining sufficient knowledge on this topic. An

overview of the interviewees is provided in Appendix B. For confidentiality and privacy
reasons, company names as well as the interviewee names have been omitted. In total 17
interviews were held at 6 different high-tech firms. The interviews are held between
November 2010 and January 2011 and took 45 minutes on average.
3.3 Data analysis
During the data analysis phases similar structured tables are used as during the theoretical
framework section. In these tables the results per firm per variable are summarized and
therefore allow for a quick overview of the results. However, because the space within the
tables is quite limited, the results section will explain the results in more detail as well.


4.0 Results

In the following section, case-based evidence will be used to develop an insight into the
microfoundations fundamental to organizational creative capacity of innovative firms. Tables
4.1, 4.2, 4.3 present overviews of the investigated cases and the related variables.
UnIortunately, at Iirm 6 there wasn`t any R&D employee willing to give an interview on the
group process variables and therefore the related variables are left blank.
4.1 Results related to individual creativity
The results related to the various variables on individual level are summarized in table 4.1.
Because this table offers limited space, the results will be described more elaborated in the
sections below.
4.1.1 Creativity assessment
All six firms use educational background as an indicator for individual creative capacity.
More specifically, theses and academic publications are analyzed on creativity and
innovativeness. Nevertheless, some firms indicated that caution is required as it is not always
clear what the actual input of the student/employee was. Besides reviewing theses of job
applicants, firms also review other publications and patents to find proof points of creativity.
This method oI examining someone`s (prior) products can be perceived as Consensual
Assessment Technique (CAT).
Apart from examining applicants` prior products, Iirm 2 indicated to consider
applicants professional path as well. More specifically, they are looking for scientists that
Results of variables related to individual creativity
variable /
Results per firm
Firm 1 Firm 2 Firm 3 Firm 4 Firm 5 Firm 6
A-factor Antecedent
All Iirms have indicated to examine applicants` educational and proIessional background. ProoI points oI creativity can be Iound by examining
theses, publications and patents.
P-factor Personality
traits related to
No data Looking for traits
such as: capacity for
self reflection,
excitement, passion,
intellectual curiosity,
open minded
Makes use of OPQ
assessment and
thereby looks for
characteristics related
to creativity
Looking for traits
such as: Continuous
improvement attitude,
intellectual curiosity,
willing to cooperate,
willing to become the
best in the field.
Looking for traits
such as: out-of-the-
box mentality,
Largely dependent on
function. Although
traits not specifically
sometimes taken into
account as indicator
for creative potential.
CS-factor Cognitive
Yes, MBTI is used No assessment.
Cognitive style
assessed on gut
feeling and
Assessment rarely
No assessment.
Cognitive style
assessed on gut
feeling and
Make use of various
assessments: MBTI,
Belbin, PPA,
Management drivers,
10 faces of innovation
No assessment.
Cognitive style
assessed on gut
feeling and
CS-factor Creativity
Informal CAT (case
study or practical
No formal
assessment. Creative
capacity largely
derived from
scientific discussion
Informal CAT
confrontation) and
No formal
assessment. Creativity
determined by
background and
answers to specific
questions during job
Part of assessment is
on creativity and out-
of-the-box. Also
confronting applicant
with real-case
problems and role
plays. Also
imaginative questions.
No formal assessments
related to creativity.
Creative potential
derived from
assessments related to
personality traits.

IM-factor Intrinsic
Applicants by asking
why they are attracted
to this company.
Employees by giving
resources in case they
have a good idea
Scientists are already
motivated because of
their passion for their
work and their
addiction¨. Others are
stimulated by giving
responsibility and
Assessing applicant
on passion for
technology and
Employees by
providing primary
conditions: respect,
space, time,
Try to enhance
employee intrinsic
motivation by 3
factors: freedom
During selection
procedures for
creative functions
intrinsic motivation
plays a decisive role.
They need to be
curious and willing to
do something new.
Looking for passion,
enthusiasm. Past is a
good indicator.
Through recognition
of creative behavior
and resource
availability they try to
stimulate intrinsic

- Extrinsic
Ideas are rewarded
with resources: time,
experts, contacts and
sometimes financially
(when patent
Extrinsic motivators
such as: financial
rewards, performance
appraisal. Although
they indicated that
scientists are
relatively indifferent
for this
Support people to
become the best or
reputable in their
field. For example by
stimulating people to
do a part-time
professorship at
Universities. Free
time / own project
competitions for the
best project. But also
bonuses for patents
(although indicated
that scientists are
relatively indifferent
for this)
Extrinsic motivators
such as: financial
rewards, performance
appraisal. Freedom to
visit scientific
conferences and
stimulated to become
best in their field.
Make use of various
awards to recognize
and stimulate creative
behavior. Combined
with monetary
rewards. However,
monetary rewards less
important/impact to
R&D departments.

Monetary rewards for
good ideas/project.
But in the first place
rewarded with
resources like time,
budget and expertise.
- Work pressure Recognizes the
potential detrimental
effect of high work
pressures on
creativity. No(t yet)
mechanisms against it
Introduced a different
project team structure
that avoids the
negative effects of
high workloads.
Aware of the effect of
excessive workloads.
Free time mechanism
to prevent negative
No mechanisms
against excessive
workloads although
likely in the future.
Free time mechanism
(although depends on

Not afraid for the
detrimental effect as
educated people are
well-able to arrange
that themselves. It is
allowed to take some
time off to work on
your idea.
- Creativity
No (but likely in the
No No (in any case very
little at R&D
Yes, although rarely Yes, training in CPS

Table 4.1 ± Results of variables related to individual creativity

have crossed the borders of their specific scientific field as a consequence of
intellectual curiosity. The discussion section goes into further detail on this specific finding.

Besides that all firms consider educational background, they also indicated to perceive
creativity related personality traits as an important indicator for creative potential. Firms look
for traits that are related to creativity such as intellectual curiosity, out-of-the-box mentality,
passion, willingness to grow, winner`s mentality and persistence. Three out of six firms assess
these traits on gut Ieeling` while the remaining three Iirms indicated to make use oI Iormal
personality assessments like OPQ or PPA.
Surprisingly, only one out of six firms indicated to use cognitive style assessments as
an indicator for individual creativity. Besides MBTI this firm indicated to use assessments
like Belbin, management drives and 10 faces of innovation. However, not all of these
assessments are cognitive style assessments as some float between cognitive style
assessments and personality assessments.

Of the formal creativity assessment tools mentioned under the theoretical framework section,
the consensual assessment technique (also: CAT) appears to be very popular as all firms use
this method. The applied CAT method was based on products made in the past, like
mentioned under antecedent conditions, as well as on 'products¨ made during job interviews.
This means that the interviewer starts a scientific discussion or confronts the applicant with a
domain specific problem. Heir in the applicant is asked to come up with (creative) solutions
or to give his opinion on certain topics. Firm 2 indicated this method as very effective into
determining someone creative potential:
'We believe that creativity is more dependent on a mindset than a capacity. During a
scientific discussion I therefore alwavs ask 'Is it possible that the theorv or assumption vou

draw on could be wrong or different?` Most scientists are (rather) definite in their opinion
and immediatelv answer 'no`. They just assume that the paradigms and assumptions they
draw on are the truth. You need to be mentally prepared that everything is just an assumption
and that it could be verv different`
Yet, the firms under investigation that use CAT ignore the prescribed rules and
prescriptions(i.e. minimum amount of examiners) and I therefore recognize the applied
method as informal CAT method.
Further, only one out of six firms has indicated to use a formal (e.g. standardized
assessments with strict procedures) creativity assessment tool including a creativity score.
Unfortunately it was not clear on which technique this formal assessment was based as this
assessment is executed by an external assessment centre. However, this is almost certain a DT
test as this is the only creativity test that is able to quantify individual creative capacity.
4.1.2 Motivation
In accordance with virtually all theories on creativity, firms perceive intrinsic motivation as
decisive for creative behaviour. This is illustrated by the fact that all firms under investigation
pay careful attention on intrinsic motivation during recruitment as well as during daily
operations. During recruitment phases, two methods were identified for probing intrinsic
motivation. In the first place, Iirms extensively examine applicant`s argument Ior applying Ior
the function in question. Secondly, scientists are perceived more intrinsically motivated in
case they have crossed the borders of their scientific field.
Besides selecting candidates on their intrinsic motivation, firms also have various
mechanisms in place to keep their employees intrinsically motivated. Three of the most
mentioned intrinsic motivators are freedom, responsibility and involvement. This means
employees are free into achieving their goals and tasks but are held responsible for their

results. One interviewee stated that by involving employees in the way a project is
approached employees will feel engaged and will automatically be intrinsically motivated.
Another firm mentioned two other mechanisms: purposefulness and enablement. Employees
need to be convinced about the purposefulness of their task while enablement is about
facilitation of the right work environment. By the right work environment is meant that the
'creative jobs¨ (i.e. scientists) are not restrained or interrupted by rules oI procedures and that
those can concentrate of their creative task.

Although all firms perceive extrinsic motivation subordinate to intrinsic motivation, each firm
does make use of extrinsic motivators for stimulating creative behaviour. Extrinsic motivators
can roughly be classified into three categories; monetary, recognition and appraisal.
Regarding financial motivators, some firms pay a fixed sum of money in case a patent is
pending while other firms reward individual projects or ideas. However, almost all firms
indicated that the efficiency of this kind of extrinsic motivator is largely dependent on the
functional department. For example, employees active at sales and marketing departments are
far more sensitive to bonuses and stock options then R&D departments. Four out of six
companies claimed that the eIIects oI Iinancial rewards on scientists` achievements were
minimal. Besides the ineffectiveness of monetary rewards, one firm even reduced the amount
of bonuses because it led to feelings of unfairness among project teams and departments.
Instead, scientists are far more sensitive to reputation and recognition in their specific
scientific field. One manager stated this as follows:
'Scientists are far more sensitive to recognition in their scientific field. This means being
invited to speak at conferences or to publish is far more important to them. They will not
become more creative or productive through financial rewards`.

As a consequence, some firms stimulate scientists to visit scientific conferences or to
do a part-time professorship at a University. Besides external recognition, firms also use
internal recognition as extrinsic motivator. This is done by annual awards like for instance the
best IP award, innovation award, PHD award or own project competition.
The third category of extrinsic motivators is the individual performance appraisal.
Although to a great extent dependent on the function, creativity is in four of six companies
included in the annual performance appraisal. This extrinsic motivator is for example
embodied into considering the quantity and quality of creative ideas someone came up with.
One firm goes even further by setting a goal on the amount of patent proposals an employee
needs to send to the IPR department.
4.1.3 Work pressure
Visions on the management of workload on creativity were surprisingly mixed. Although
every company confirmed the negative effects of excessive workloads on creativity,
preventive measures were diverse. At the one extreme a manager stated 'Of course vou need
to find a balance. However, we believe that our highly-educated people are well able to find
that balance themselves`. In other words, this company relies on the self-management
abilities of their employees. Another company also was not afraid for the detrimental effect of
excessive workloads as this manager stated:
'I am not reallv afraid for this. In case a scientist faces a problem it will not go out of his
mind and he cannot stop thinking about it. Therefore, ideas or solutions often come up during
their leisure time`.
At the other extreme one biotech company did recognize the detrimental effect of excessive
workload on creativity and therefore introduced a different project team structure. The firm in
question indicated that each project member / scientists was so focused on the deliverables
and the milestones that they were not able to think freely and were not able to investigate

side-paths. As a consequence, they altered team structures which means that besides the
typical project team consisting out of 6 persons one or two scientists from complete different
scientific fields were added. These Iree` scientists have no obligations related to milestones
and deliverables and therefore are able to work out ideas that come up during the project and
are able to gain more in-depth knowledge. The vice president that introduced and
implemented this structure stated:
'The kev of this profect is that advanced level scientists were added from complete different
scientific fields. By combining scientists from different fields and by giving them freedom we
are able to approach problems from different perspectives resulting in better solutions. And it
works. If we hadnt someone with a chemistry background that could experiment freely we
would never came up with a certain solution that is now reflected in one of our products`.
Other Iirms use the Iree time` mechanism which means a Iixed percentage oI time is
allocated to work on employee projects. However, one scientist mentioned the ineffectiveness
of their free time projects by stating that about 99% of the employee projects fail.
4.1.4 Creativity training
While academic research has proven the effectiveness of creativity training, most Iirms don`t
seem to agree on this or aren`t aware oI this. This is illustrated by the Iact that only one out oI
six firms makes actively use of creativity training while four firms indicated to ignore
creativity training. One firm indicated to use creativity training only very rarely.

4.2. Results related to group creativity
The results related to the various variables on group level are summarized in table 4.2. The
results will be described more elaborated in the sections below.


Table 4.2 ± Results of variables related to individual creativity

4.2.1 Whole brain theory
All firms under investigation indicated to strive for a certain level of diversity within
departments and project teams. This means they aim for diversity in cognitive style,
knowledge, background, nationality and competences. The effect of this diversity is well
illustrated by the following quote; 'Bv combining various scientists from different fields
different ways of thinking and different perspectives will be combined. As long we are all
thinking like molecular biologists we will all come up with the same ideas`. Although all
firms have a shared vision on the need and effect of diversity, the method on which diversity
in cognitive style is based differs among firms. Three out six companies make use of
cognitive style assessments for composing teams. The remaining three firms compose their
team and the individual thinking styles on gut feeling and experience.
Results of variables related to group creativity
theory /
Results per firm
Firm 1 Firm 2 Firm 3 Firm 4 Firm 5 Firm 6
COMP Whole
Striving for
within teams
Diversity in
Striving for
diversity in
and cognitive
Striving for
employee has
a certain
colour that
relates to a
way working /
personality /
cognitive style
Striving for
is based on the
to solve a
based on
experience, no
Striving for
diversity in
styles, way of
Based on the
Striving for
based on
and gut
feeling, no
(focus groups)
and make
extensive use
of external
approach (incl.
sources, crowd
and make
extensive use
of external
TRIZ, patent

4.2.2 Creative problem solving techniques
Each firm under investigation has indicated to use brainstorming as a creative problem
solving tool (CPS). In addition to the CPS methods mentioned in the theoretical framework,
the metaphors technique was used by one company. Further, no company has indicated to use
any of the remaining CPS methods mentioned under the theoretical framework section.
Nevertheless, it appears that firms use a variety of other CPS tools. In one consumer
electronics company they indicated to make extensive use of external creativity by using
focus groups. These focus groups regularly come up with new ideas that have the potential to
improve their products. The more science based companies, like biotech and semiconductors,
are drawing extensively on other external sources of knowledge like Universities, research
institutes or other scientific communities. One practical form of extracting external
knowledge is crowd sourcing. Crowd sourcing means making an open call to an external
undefined large group. In practice this means that firms post their specific problem on a
digital platform at which various experts, Universities and other companies are connected. In
case another company has the knowledge and/or capabilities available to resolve the problem
this company can send their solution after which a financial reward follows. Two out of six
companies indicated to make use of this kind of external knowledge / creativity.

In addition to the earlier mentioned CPS methods, two firms indicated to use the TRIZ
methodology of which one also used patent mapping. TRIZ is the Russian acronym for
Theory for Inventive Problem Solving and is " a problem-solving, analysis and forecasting
tool derived from the study of patterns of invention in the global patent literature" (Hua et al.,
2006, p. 111). The TRIZ methodology relies on the notion that nearly every invention is not
unique but is based on one of the 40 general inventive principles. Therefore, engineers should
translate their specific problem to a general problem after which one of the 40 general

solutions can be applied. Hereafter the engineer can translate this general solution back to
his/her specific problem.

Another firm indicated to use a highly analytical approach for problem solving wherein they
make extensive use of hypothesis testing. The reasoning behind this analytical approach is
their conviction on the importance of having an exact understanding of the problem they are
facing. This is illustrated by a quote from a scientist that stated:
'In some cases, the greatest difficultv lies into finding out what the problem exactlv is.
Therefore, in some cases, having the right problem definition means almost 50% of the
Another company gave insight in their overall structure for solving problems or inventing
new technologies. This highly analytic and structured approach also puts great emphasis on
the problem definition phase. After the problem is exactly defined it becomes clear which
expertise and capabilities are needed where after the project manager integrates people from
everywhere in the company depending on the expertise needed.

4.3 Results related to both individual and group creativity

The results related to the various variables that are related to both individuals as well as group
creativity are summarized in table 4.3. The results will be described more elaborated per
variable in the sections below.
4.3.1 Culture
The importance of culture for stimulating creativity is reflected by the fact that five out of six
companies mentions creativity or innovation in their company. Besides that firms highlight
the importance of creativity and innovation through their company values, some firms also

frequently communicate the importance of creativity by giving examples of creative
behaviour and the subsequent successes that followed.
To be more specific then company values, managers typically mention freedom, open doors,
risk taking, information sharing, and flexibility as key components of their culture that
stimulate creativity. One scientist very well illustrated their culture regarding knowledge
sharing by saying: 'In this companv it is conceived as indecent to not help somebody from a
different department that could use vour knowledge`. During interviews, less frequent
mentioned terms related to creative culture were: safe environment, informal and a continuous
improvement attitude.
However, as these values and terms are largely noncommittal, better reflectors of a creative
culture area couple of specific rules and processes. For example, including creative behaviour
into the annual performance appraisal gives a better indicator of the emphasis on creativity.
As mentioned earlier in this section, four out of six companies includes creativity in their
annual performance appraisal which means they translated their company values into practice.
Table 4.3 ± Results of variables related to both individual and group creativity
Results of variables related to both individual and group creativity
theory /
Results per firm
Firm 1 Firm 2 Firm 3 Firm 4 Firm 5 Firm 6
SI Culture Importance of
translated through
company values.
Mentioned cultural
elements such as:
ok to fail, freedom,
creative output
Importance and results
of creativity is
frequently. Mentioned
cultural elements such
as: open doors, little
rules and procedures,
continuous improvement
attitude, risk taking,
Mentioned cultural
elements such as: open,
information sharing,
safe environment,
appreciation for
creative behavior.
2 of the 4 values of the
firm are related to
creativity: insightful and
inventive. Freedom,
flexibility. Mentioned
cultural elements such
as: little rules and
obstacles around creative
functions (=enablement).
Importance of creativity and
innovation in code of business
conduct. Mentioned cultural
elements such as: freedoms in
role/position, collaboration,
open communication.
Innovation is
mentioned in
company values..
Everybody in the
company is made
aware of the
importance and need
for innovation. In
some cases it`s part
of annual appraisal
CI Physical
Not optimized for
creativity at the
moment not
because of lack in
space. However,
incorporated in
future plans
R&D department is
more open and relaxing
than other departments
Workplace innovation
program. Goal to align
the workplaces to the
strategic vision.
Characterized by open
spaces. Concept is
being expanded
throughout the
R&D departments are
more open spaces. At
other functional
departments less
attention for physical
Special conference/brainstorm
room with art, movable walls
etc. Colorful department,
In some departments
perceived as
effective and
CI Resource
Resources are
available in case
someone has a
good idea and it
falls within the
scope of the
Resources are available
in case someone has a
good idea and it falls
within the scope of the
Resources are available
in case someone has a
good idea and it falls
within the scope of the
company. In addition,
availability of easy to
access laboratories
where ideas can be
tested very easily.
Resources are available
in case someone has a
good idea and it falls
within the scope of the
Resources are available in
case someone has a good idea
and it falls within the scope of
the company.
People are
stimulated to search
for the right people
within the company
in order to develop
their ideas further.
4.3.2 Physical environment
Five out of six companies considers physical environment for stimulating creativity. This
means that 'creative departments¨ (i.e. R&D) are more open or in some cases colourful in
order to stimulate knowledge transfer among employees. Until now, most companies have
only put efforts into improving the physical environment of R&D departments while ignoring
other departments where creative behaviour is perceived as less important. Nevertheless, most
companies have indicated to expand the physical environment optimization throughout the
company. Still, in spite of these efforts and this upcoming trend, no interviewee could confirm
the positive influence of physical environment on creativity.
4.3.3 Resource availability
According to previous scientific research, the availability of resources appears to have a
positive influence on creative capacity (Nohria & Gulati, 1996). Resources could be in the
form of budget, expertise or time. As described in the work pressure section above, most
firms consciously allocate time in order to avoid the detrimental effect of high work loads.
However, besides the allocation of time, also other kinds of resources (e.g. budget, networks,
expertise) are allocated in case somebody has a good idea or is making progress on his / her
own project. Yet, in order to draw upon resources each firm has indicated that the idea in
question needs to fall within the scope of the company. Besides often mentioned resources
such as budget, time and expertise, one scientists mentioned easy to access laboratory
facilities as a stimulator for creativity: 'In case I have an idea during the lunch I am able to
test this immediately in the lab as our labs are easy to access. I think this is a very important
stimulator for creativitv`.

5.0 Discussion

This paper adds to the theory on organizational creative capacity by conducting a multiple-
case study that aims to reveal the microfoundations fundamental organizational creative
capacity. While Teece (2007) describes the required capabilities to capture value from
technological advancements, this leaves open the question which microfoundations undergird
the creation of technological advancements itself. More specifically, this thesis reveals the
microfoundations (e.g. skills, processes, procedures, organizational structures, decision rules
and disciplines) that undergird organizational creative capacity by using the framework on
organizational creativity by Woodman et al. (1993) as a starting point. In addition, several
more variables were added and investigated that could possibly have an influence on
organizational creative capacity.

The central research question of this research is: Which microfoundations undergird
organizational creative capacity? The core contributions of this research are illustrated in
tables 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3.. These tables illustrate the various structures, mechanisms, processes
that undergird organizational creative capacity. In addition to that, a handful of other variables
is found that firms perceive as important for organizational creative capacity. These variables
were not found in the literature related to organizational creative capacity but were mentioned
during interviews. For example, while several interviewees mentioned the importance of open
innovation to organizational creative capacity, the current literature on organizational creative
capacity ignores this. This addition, and others, will be mentioned and discussed throughout
this discussion section.

5.1 Discussion on individual creativity level
As mentioned in the theoretical framework section, at individual level firms can roughly do
two things to enhance individual creative capacity. Firms can in the first place hire employees
with relatively high creative capacities or at least hire employee with the potential to behave
creative. Secondly, they can stimulate their current employees in such a way that they are
more likely behave creative. Regarding the first measure, firms should have the ability to
assess the creative capacity of their applicants where after they can select the most creative
5.1.1 Creativity assessment
It appears that high-tech firms do consider individual creative capacity in case an applicant is
applying for a creative Iunction (i.e. scientist). In order to assess someone`s creative capacity,
firms consider antecedent conditions (i.e. educational and professional background and
products), personality traits related to creativity, and cognitive style. In addition, firms use
informal assessment tools such as the (informal) consensual assessment tool (CAT) at which
the applicant is asked to solve a specific problem / case. Scientific discussions also give
insight into someone`s attitude towards change and creativity.
Most firms (5 out of 6) assess creativity on gut feeling in spite of using formal assessment
tools. Formal assessment tools, such as divergent thinking tests, are largely ignored. The
ignorance of formal creativity assessments can be explained by four factors. The first reason
is that Iirms perceive individual creative capacity to be domain speciIic and thereIore don`t
attach much value on formalized domain general tests. Managers therefore argue that domain
general tests like divergent thinking tests offer only limited predictive value. However, the
discussion among scholars about the domain generality or domain specificity of creativity is a
long lasting one caused by mixed findings (Silvia et al., 2009). The second reason for the
ignorance of formal creativity assessments is because these assessments leave environmental

influences out of consideration. Some managers indicated that they believe that individual
creativity is largely dependent on the environment in which someone is operating. Hence,
they argue that these tests lack predictive value. However, a frequent heard phrase during
interviews was 'the past is the best predictor`. Well considered, these two convictions are
contradictious as previous made products are made in different environments and therefore
have also limited predictive power. Thirdly, some firms perceive creativity as a mindset that
is affected by character and background rather than a capacity. These firms considered
attitudes towards 'truthIulness¨ oI theory and their proIessional paths for understanding
someone`s character and attitude. Fourth, some firms perceive formal assessments as
unnecessary as they belief their gut feeling and experience for assessing creative capacity
suffices. This is exemplified by the following quote: 'We usually start a scientific discussion
with someone. Within five minutes I know whether someone is creative or not`. Still, while
this could be true for more experienced recruiters, the danger is that people sometimes have a
misconception of creativity and therefore make wrong decisions (Pearlman, 1983).

In order to gain additional insight into the usage of creativity assessments in business
environments an additional interview was held at a well-known assessment centre. Although
creativity assessments are used little (about 10% of all assessments include the competence
creativity), this assessment center uses role plays and case studies for assessing creativity. The
interviewee was not surprised by the ignorance of formal creativity assessments as he stated
that certain personality traits combined with a threshold level of intelligence can give good
insight into someone`s potential to behave creative.
In addition to having a threshold level oI intelligence and the 'right¨ character,
motivation and attitude are also perceived as conditions for creativity. Therefore, one firm
made use oI a 'coach¨ Iunction which means that he was dedicated to the development and

attitude (i.e. standing open for new things and to stimulate to explore fields in which the
scientist has no experience) of scientists. On this subject he stated; 'The qualitv of the science
is directly influenced when scientists learn to overcome their fears and leave their comfort
zone and thereby view things from different perspectives. At some people it is more difficult
than others to leave their comfort :one as some are more scared for this`.

In addition to the earlier mentioned antecedent factors as indicators for creative capacity, one
Iirm indicated to consider the diversity oI applicant`s proIessional path. More specifically,
they prefer scientists that have crossed the borders of their field which means they prefer
scientists that have studied other fields as well. This is an interesting finding as this indicates
that this firm is aware of the link between associative capacity and creative capacity.
Several scholars found that creative capacity is markedly correlated to associative
capacity (Mednick, 1962). This can be explained by the fact that one part of the cognitive
creative process consists of making associations between various elements stored in our
memory (Gabora, 2002). Johansson (2006) describes various ways in which individual
associative capacity can be enhanced. For example, he mentions that people that have
experienced broad education in various fields are likely to have greater associative capacities.
According to Johansson building deep knowledge in one field someone '.easilv becomes
wedded to a particular wav of doing things. As a result, associative barriers are erected,.`
(p. 51). In other words, people become restrained in their thinking patterns and have
difficulties with breaking away from it. In fact, this is the exact same notion as described
under the knowledge section in the theoretical framework. Heir in was described that
someone needs to have deep knowledge of a certain field but also needs to have knowledge or
thinking styles from another field to break away and to make a creative contribution.

This notion is also in the same line of thinking of whole brain-theory which states
multiple thinking styles within a team will approach problems from a variety of perspective
resulting into a larger number of extraordinary creative ideas. However, this is on a team level
while the associative boundaries notion is on an individual level. Analyzing someone`s
professional path therefore seems to be worthwhile as high associative capacities are
markedly related to creative capacity.
5.1.2. Stimulating creativity at individual level
Besides hiring highly creative individuals, firms can also stimulate their current employees to
behave creative. Under the theoretical framework section various variables are mentioned
such as intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, creativity training and work pressure that
can influence creative behavior.
This research reveals that firms spend much attention on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. In
accordance with the literature, firms enhance intrinsic motivation by giving freedom (in task
execution), engage employees and by recognizing and rewarding creative behavior. An
example of a reward for creative behavior is the allocation of resources in case an employee
has an idea that needs to be developed further. Firms typically use financial rewards as
extrinsic motivator. Next to that, firms use recognition mechanisms such as awards or offer
the possibility to do a part-time professorship at an University.
Less consensus was found on the two other facilitation related variables. The first
variable concerns work pressure. Although all firms agree on the notion that excessive
workloads are detrimental to creativity, two different preventive measures were found: the
free time regulation and the alternative project structure. The first mechanism allows their
scientists to spend about 15% of their time on their own project. The second mechanism
entails complementing a project team with one or two scientists that are free to experiment

and are excluded from deadlines. One might argue that 'complete Iree scientists¨ are
financially not justified as illustrated by a quote from a manager: 'In former times we had
about 10 on the 50 creative persons that had extensive freedom to experiment, however
because thats not economicallv fustified anvmore it is now about 2 out of 50`. Yet, 15% free
time means that a project team consisting out of 7 scientists means that in total about 1fte is
spend on free time projects. This while a scientist explained that 99% of the free time projects
fail. The alternative structure might therefore be a better alternative as this structure has two
additional advantages. The Iirst advantage is that the 'Iree scientist¨ is more Iocused and can
experiment on things that are related to a project instead of working on unrelated ideas with a
relatively low change of success. The second advantage is that by adding people with
complete different backgrounds a greater diversity is achieved.

The ineffectiveness of the free time projects may be explained by a lack of focus. The
importance of focusing is mentioned several times during interviews at different levels. This
means focus can be on a strategic level, for example aiming to improve existing products
through incorporating a new technology, or at engineering level which implies that scientists
have an exact understanding of the problem they face. However, the nature of strategic focus /
problems varies among industries. In more science based business, like biotech and
semiconductors, the strategic focus is more straightforward as certain diseases are to be
solved. This is different in certain consumer electronics departments as these questions / goals
are sometimes more open ended (i.e. inventing new functionalities for products).

The creativity training variable is the other variable on which no consensus among firms was
found. Although prior research has proven the effectiveness of creativity training, only one
out of the six firms makes actively use of creativity training. This finding can probably be

explained by the perception of the effectiveness of creativity training. One director HR of a
Iirm that didn`t make use oI creativity training stated: 'I dont believe in creativitv training. I
think the margins for improving someones creative capacitv are marginal. You are creative
or vou are not`. This conviction is the opposite of a vice president HR active in a firm that
did make use of creativity training: 'Im convinced about the abilitv to enhance someones
creative thinking skills by training. This means they learn to have an open attitude and to
learn to combine different elements`.
5.2 Discussion on group creativity level
On group creativity level, this research incorporates group composition as well as group
processes variables. On the group composition variable not much discussion can take place as
all firms strive for a certain level of diversity within teams and departments.
More discussion can take place on the creative process variable as my findings are out
of line with the existing literature. This research investigates which creative problem solving
tools firms use in order to come up with creative ideas or to solve problems. In the previous
section it became clear that firms face different kinds of problems (e.g. related to open-
endedness of problems). The diIIerence in the origins oI the problems` Iirms Iace has
implications on the creative problem solving tools they use. Yet, not in the same way as
indicated by McFadzean (1998) that made a distinction between paradigm preserving,
paradigm stretching and paradigm breaking methodologies. Instead, the more focused
approach of science based companies at which problems / goals are better defined results in
the usage of more analytical approaches (i.e. hypothesis testing, TRIZ) and thereby make
extensive use of external scientific knowledge sources like Universities or open innovation
platforms (e.g. crowd sourcing). Although (external) knowledge was not specifically under
investigation in this research, the importance for creative capacity was underlined frequently
during interviews. More specifically, the role of external knowledge and the open innovation

paradigm are perceived to be very important for organizational creative capacity. The open
innovation paradigm entails that the boundaries between the firm and the external
environment are less apparent than it used to be. This implies that not all specialist knowledge
and experts are 'in-house¨ which means that Iirms have to possess strong networks in order to
tap into sources with the right knowledge and expertise (Chesbrough, 2003). The majority of
firms have indicated that tapping into external knowledge sources is fundamental to
organizational creativity and therefore the framework of Woodman et al. (1993) should be
updated Ior the current open innovation paradigm by adding a variable such as 'link to
external knowledge sources¨.
Firms or departments that that face more open-ended questions/goals (i.e. inventing new
functionalities) also make use of external sources. However, in a different way as they make
use of external knowledge/creativity by incorporating focus groups that could come up with
ideas for improving products. This usage of both external knowledge and creativity indicates
that these firms undertake open innovation strategies.

Although not the purpose of this research, the interviews also gave insight into the origins of
creative ideas. For example, one interviewee mentioned that some creative ideas arise from
serendipities. Serendipity denotes an accidental discovery while looking for something else.
Products like Viagra and penicillin are discoveries by accidence as scientists were looking for
other products. The frequent occurrence of serendipities could have consequences for the way
of working within a company. One senior scientist stated;
'Mv experience is that the most creative ideas come from serendipities. This means that you
have to look very carefully at what you have found in your results. If you have results that you
havent expected vou should take a careful look and dont fust ignore it. However, you have to
see it`.

This means that scientists should be prepared Ior detecting inIormation they didn`t expect and
should therefore be open-minded and should have a high state of attentiveness. These
characteristics could be assessed during recruitment phases.
Another mentioned source of creative ideas is challenging assumptions and theories on a
continuous basis. People that take assumptions, theories and ways of working for granted are
less likely to come up with creative ideas. This attitude can be achieved by selecting people
with a 'continuous improvement personality¨ or by executing a leadership style that
challenges employees.
5.3 Discussion on variables related to both individual and group creativity
In the theoretical framework, three variables are considered to influence both individual
creativity as well as group creativity: culture, physical environment and resource availability.
It is found that all firms perceive culture as an important factor for stimulating creative
behaviour. The cultural elements mentioned during interviewees show great consistency with
the elements mentioned in the theory section. The same consensus holds for the resource
availability variable as all firms allocate resources in case an employee has a creative idea
with potential. Besides the allocation of time, budget, expertise and networks one firm
mentioned easy to access laboratory facilities as creativity stimulating factor.
Almost all firms perceive physical environment as an important stimulator for
creativity as Iive oI six Iirms 'optimizes¨ their physical environment Ior creativity.
Interestingly, no empirical evidence for the positive influence of physical environments on
creativity behaviour exists. This offers an interesting future research topic.
5.4 Managerial implications
An extensive literature review on (organizational) creativity verified and complemented by a
qualitative multiple-case study research has resulted in findings with a high level of practical

usefulness. Findings on individual as well as on group level can be useful for managers active
in high-tech firms. On individual level, managers can in the first place use the findings related
to recruitment for creative jobs (i.e. scientists). An elaborated description on tools and
indicators is given that can be used to assess individual creative capacity. Secondly, the thesis
describes a variety of mechanisms that can be used to stimulate existing employees to behave
creative. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, a variety of cultural elements, project team
structure and other mechanisms are examples of this. At group level, a variety of problem
solving tools is mentioned that draw extensively on external knowledge sources and thereby
has proven to be compatible with the current era of open innovation
5.5 Theoretical i mplications

This research contributed to the field of strategic management in various ways. As explained
in the literature section, (technological) invention is the main driver for competitive dynamics
in high-tech markets. While the dynamic capabilities theory is well-able to explain the
capabilities required for capturing value from technological advancement in these dynamic
markets, this thesis reveals the roots that are fundamental to the creation of technological
advancements itself. As each technological advancement is ignited by human creativity, this
research investigates how firms aim to develop organizational creative capacity by conducting
a multiple-case study research.
For investigating organizational creative capacity this thesis took the framework of
Woodman et al. (1993) as a starting point and complemented this with various variables. This
research contributed in a way that it validated and complemented the framework of Woodman
et al. (1993) on organizational creativity. More specific, variables (at individual level) that
were not mentioned before but should be added to the framework are associative capacity and
extrinsic motivation. On the group level, insight is gained into the creative problem solving
tools firms that draw extensively on external knowledge sources. Next to these contributions,

an alternative team structure is found that avoids the negative effects of extensive workloads
while increasing team diversity.
5.6 Future research
Although this research leads to a better understanding of the underlying microfoundations
required for organizational creative capacity, future research could give insight into other
variables that potentially influence organizational creative capacity. In the first place, the
effect and importance of one variable remains unclear as this variable is only partly included.
In the book 'The Innovators Solution¨ Christensen points out the crucial impact oI the
incentives and the subsequent attitude of middle management in the innovation process. Most
creative and entrepreneurial ideas that arise from lower levels are presented to middle
management where after these middle managers shape and adjust the feasible ideas into
business plans that are to be presented to senior management. However, middle managers
tend to choose ideas whose market yet exists (i.e. prefer ideas that lead to improvements of
current products) and thus assured while rejecting ideas that are more radical of which is not
clear whether markets yet exist. The problem is that future markets for new products are small
today but will be big in the future resulting in a preference by middle management for ideas
that are less disruptive and are more common. The rejection of this kind of ideas can partly
attributed to personal incentives of middle management that tend to favour less risky projects
as they face a higher risk of failure with projects of which market size is yet unknown.
Failures mean a damaged reputation that could eventually inhibit promotion and or bonuses.
During this research I have tried to incorporate this filter variable by asking managers whether
they were afraid about filters within their company. While some managers didn`t recognize
the potential detrimental effect, others were not afraid of this potential threat. One director
stated: 'Yes, of course some ideas will be filtered out, however, we have got enough ideas on
the shelf. Besides that, we make use of an idea box`. This quote indicates the manager in

question didn`t understand the exact problem as both counter arguments don`t solve the
problem. This phenomenon offers interesting material for future research. Mapping incentives
of middle management combined with observing the process of idea development would give
better insight into the role of middle management filters into the innovation process.
Another variable of which its effect remains unclear and therefore offers a future
research topic is the 'free time variable¨. While Google has indicated that a great deal of their
new products and services are initiated and developed during free time projects, one firm in
this sample has indicated that 99% of their free time projects result into nothing. The other
Iirms didn`t quantiIy the eIIectiveness oI their Iree time projects. An inductive research that
investigates which variables constitute to the success of free time projects would be
interesting and practically useful.
Some limitations on the applied research method and approach are worth to be mentioned.
The inherent weaknesses of the multiple-case study research method (e.g. limited
generalizability and questionable objectivity) are also applicable to this research. Next to the
fact that multiple-case studies have limited generalizability, only high-tech firms were
investigated which means a second limitation on the generalizability is applicable to this
research. Studying the organizational creativity in for example the gaming industry could lead
to other results and therefore would be interesting future research topic.

Appendix A

I nterview questions on organizational creativity

The questions between the brackets are questions to be asked after the preceding questions.
General question(s)
1. How long have you been working in this company? And how long have you been working
in this function?
2. Did you always work in a HR-related function? Do you also have other functional

Questions related to the relationship between firm creativity and innovative capacity
3. Looking back at the last years, your firm can be seen as an innovating firm, could you
explain which factors contributed to that ability to innovate?
4. What is the role of creative behavior in that ability to innovate?
5. What do you consider as the essential elements for stimulating creative behavior?
6. Are there specific departments or functions where you consider creativity as very (or
more) important (than others)?

Questions related to individual creativity

7. If they consider individual creativity as being important: How does the HR-strategy or
other practical manifestations support/reinforce individual creativity?
8. Besides recruiting creative people, people can also be trained to think creative. Are there
any kind of training sessions for this?
9. Is it possible to link some prior innovations to some specific people within the firm that
can be perceived as creative?

Questions related to individual creativity assessment

10. Do you get specific requests from the different departments for recruiting creative people
or is it one part of the overall recruitment process?
11. If creative capacity has to be tested, what tools do you use to assess individual creativity?
(Do you Ior example consider someone`s character?)

Questions related to creating an environment that stimulates creativity
12. How is creativity translated in the company culture?

13. How is creative behavior stimulated by incorporating the work environment? (Is the
physical environment considered?)
14. Is creative behavior rewarded? And how, are there specific policies? (Are there extrinsic
motivations for employees? Do they obtain command of resources?)
15. Is individual creativity part of the annual performance appraisal? (If yes, in what way?)

Questions related to various variables

16. When composing a team that for example needs to innovate, do you also take their
thinking styles into consideration? (What kind of instrument do you use to determine their
thinking styles?)
17. The scientific literature has written a lot about the relationship between motivation and
creative behavior. And especially the differences between intrinsic motivation and
extrinsic motivation. What is your vision on this?
18. Are you worried about filters within your company? (explain what I mean by filters)

Questions related to the creative process

19. In case you are confronted with a certain problem or challenge, what methods do you use
for initiating ideas that could solve this problem? In other words, which creative problem
solving tools do you use?
20. Do you have various kinds of creative problem solving methods? Is the applied method
dependent on the type of problem?
21. If you think of your last creative idea, what was the preceding process?
22. Are there sometimes problems that you cannot solve?
23. To what extent do external sources contribute into solving problems or creative idea

Finishing question

24. Are there any other issues related to creativity that you would like to mention?

Thank you for your cooperation


Appendix B

Overview interviewees
Reference in thesis Industry Interviewee # Function
Firm 1 Consumer electronics 1 Global organisational development director
2 Manager global graduate program
3 Manager research department
Firm 2 Biotech 4 VP HR
5 Senior VP Science Management & External Research
6 VP research department
Firm 3 Semiconductors 7 VP HR SBU
8 Manager new business development
Firm 4 IT & services 9 HR director
Firm 5 Consumer electronics 10 VP Global Recruitment
11 HR Manager
12 Recruiter (R&D functions)
13 Senior Scientists
14 Senior Scientist
Firm 6 Chemicals 15 VP HR Innovation SBU
16 Director Innovation SBU

Assessment center Assessment center 17 Research director assessment center


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