A Study on the Motivational Mechanism of Creative Situations

Article excerpt

Using the organismic dialectical metatheory and the empirical research approach, this study systemically explores the relationship between creative situations and creative behavior. The study finds that the opinion proposed by organismic dialectical metatheory, that needs and motivation mediate the situation and the behavior, is true. Also, support from leaders and the richness of resources are primary components of creative situations. Furthermore, the satisfaction of self-determination and competence is at the core of creative activity; enjoyment is the direct cause for creative behavior, and pursuit of challenges is the most important indirect cause.


A creative situation is defined as the perception of the circumstance that influences the organizational creativity (Amabile, 1997). Motivation is generally considered to be the individual inherent mental process led, stimulated, and kept by the goal or internal motive force (Pintrinch and Schunk, 1996), which is often differentiated in the creative research field by two types: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation (Amabile, 1999). In recent years, researchers have started to examine the effects of motivation on the relationship between the organizational environment and creative performance. But most of these studies are done within the frame of cognitive evaluation theory, of which there are already many criticisms. Many people think it is difficult to define the so-called environment of "information" and "control" (Eisenberger and Cameron, 1996). Thus, we need some new theories to explain the relationship between the organizational situation and creativity.

In recent years, with the development of studies on motivation, there appear to be many new ideas about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The most representative and influential one is the self-determination theory (Deci and Ryan, 2000). As the theory develops further, organismic dialectical metatheory tries to use the concept of psychological needs to integrate different opinions in the area (Deci and Ryan, 2000). This theory proposes that there are three kinds of psychological needs which are inherent, universal, and common in human beings: self determination, competence, and relationships. When the environment satisfies these three needs, it will support intrinsic motivation and promote the individual's behavior. Vallerand (1997) puts forward a casual model to explain the relationship: social factors--psychological mediators--different kinds of motivation--results.

Though organismic dialectical metatheory is meaningful to creative study, there is no experiment under its direction in the field of creative behaviors. There are three purposes for conducting this study. The first is to take the organismic dialectical metatheory as a framework and to establish a new model of motivational mediation between the organizational environment and creative performance. The second is to distinguish the types of needs and motivations in order to explore the path between creative situations and creative performance using Covariance Structure Analyses. The last is to examine the relationship among the mediators.



Samples are employees and their supervisors from Beijing and Jiangxi province, who are 689 in total. The number of male participants is 355, and the other 334 are females.


Creative situations influence creative performance significantly through needs and motivation (Figure 1).



The questionnaire of creative situation

The questionnaire was designed by Zhang Jian (2003), and is used to measure the situation that can influence creative performance in organizations. There are four factors on the scale and 40 items. The Cronbach's alphas of the scale are 0.8589, 0.8135, 0.7930, 0.5440 respectively, suggesting good stability among the four factors. …