Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

Linking Leadership to Employee Creativity: A Study of Indian R&D Laboratories

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

Linking Leadership to Employee Creativity: A Study of Indian R&D Laboratories

Article excerpt


Creativity is defined as the production of novel and useful ideas by an individual or a group of individuals working together and is believed to fundamentally contribute to organizational innovation, effectiveness, and survival (Amabile, 1983; Madjar, Oldham & Pratt, 2002; Shalley, Gilson & Blum, 2000; Zhang & Bartol, 2010). The pace of change and the increasing integration of viable knowledge in work processes and outcomes, all require creativity for success and competitive advantage.

Of all the forces that impinge on an employee's daily experience of the work environment in organizations, one of the most immediate and potent influence is likely to be that of his/her supervisor, who directs and evaluates work, facilitates or impedes his/her access to resources and information, and in a myriad of other ways touches his/her engagement with tasks and with other people. Although leader behaviors are potentially one of the most influential factors in an employee's work environment, research exploring the relationships between specific supervisor behaviors and employee creativity is very limited (Amabile et al, 2004; Mumford et al, 2002).

Given the intuitive appeal of the assertion that leader behaviors are likely to have their strongest and most immediate impact on subordinate perceptions, it is surprising that there is little research testing the behavior-perception connection (Shin & Zhou, 2003; Zhou & Oldham, 2001). There exists a dearth of evidence on the possible mediating role of subordinate reactions, and the absence of holistic views of how patterns of leader behaviors might have their effects over time (Amabile et al., 2004).

The present study addresses the important and relatively less explored topic of the impact of supervisor (referred to as leader from here on) behaviors on employee creativity. The study uses a combination of in-depth interviews and exhaustive literature review to provide insights into the role of leaders in enhancing individual creativity in an R8D work context. The first part of the study builds on a series of in-depth interviews carried out in five public R8D labs in India and identifies a comprehensive set of leader behaviors that can promote individual employee's creativity. The second part of the study extends the transformational leadership (Bass, 1985) and charismatic leadership (Conger & Kanungo, 1987) theories by developing a causal framework delineating the processes that have high potential to explain the impact of leadership on employee creativity. The study develops theory linking leader behaviors to employee creativity through justice perceptions, psychological capital and intrinsic motivation. The paper also develops understanding about the role of extrinsic motivation in enhancing employee creativity and about the interrelationships between justice perceptions, employee psychological capital and intrinsic motivation.

Leader Behavior Scale (LBS-RnD)

Research works on the impact of leadership on creativity have mostly focused on the popular two-factor leadership taxonomies describing styles like transformational leadership (e.g. Gong, Huang & Farh, 2009; Jaussi & Dionne, 2003; Jung, Chow & Wu, 2003; Keller, 1992; Paulson & Maldonado, 2009; Shin & Zhou, 2003; Stoker et al, 2001), consideration-initiating structure (Stoker et al., 2001), leader-member exchange (Scott & Bruce, 1994; Tierney, Farmer 8 Graen, 1999), controlling-supportive leadership (Amabile et al., 2004; Madjar et al., 2002; Oldham & Cummings, 1996; Tierney & Farmer, 2002) and empowering-controlling leadership (Zhang & Bartol, 2010).

Most of the researchers studying influence of leadership on employee creativity continue to use an available, "validated" questionnaire for their research without careful consideration to the relevance of the content for their research question and sample. …

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