Academic journal article Business: Theory and Practice

Empowering Leadership and Team Creativity: Understanding the Direct-Indirect Path

Academic journal article Business: Theory and Practice

Empowering Leadership and Team Creativity: Understanding the Direct-Indirect Path

Article excerpt

Introduction

In the contemporary, dynamic, and competitive marketplace, organizations need to exploit their potential to enhance their ability to produce more creative solutions for survival (e.g., Erdogan et al. 2015, Cho and Pucik 2005). Organizational innovative outputs are consistently linked with a higher rate of their growth, sustainability, and profitability (e.g., Subramaniam and Youndt 2005). Given its practical importance, researchers have largely investigated the factors which can affect and contribute to the creativity of the employees. Team level research of creativity suggested that individuals in teams bring diversified knowledge, skills, and expertise to produce more creative solutions (e.g., Taggar 2001, Zhou and George 2003). The diversified knowledge and expertise which team members bring forward for the team enhance their overall divergent thinking and flexible problem solving (Granovetter et al. 1982).

Leaders' behavior is one of the most investigated behaviors in creativity research; researchers found that leaders can affect the potential of individuals and teams for creativity (e.g., Druskat and Wheeler 2003, D'Innocenzo et al. 2016, DeConinck and DeConinck 2017, Ng 2017). Among these studied behaviors, empowering leadership behavior has been given special attention in management literature. This behavior is closely related to the recent trend of providing autonomy to the organizational employees (Lawler et al. 2001, Chamberlin et al. 2018). Equivocal results found in literature about the relationship between empowering leadership and creativity of employees (e.g., Zhang et al. 2018). Researchers found that empowering leadership positively affects the creativity of the employee by enhancing the sense of autonomy among employees (Chow 2018). Contrary some researchers questioned this link and found that empowering leadership behavior can hamper creativity of the employees and organizational innovative potential (e.g., Amabile et al. 2014) by inducing inner friction and can negatively affect the exchange of novel and useful ideas (e.g., Lawler et al. 2001, Van knippenberg et al. 2004). A dilemma result, empowering leadership behavior which fosters creativity of the teams by providing autonomy to the employees, on the other hand, hampers the exchange of creative ideas.

Therefore, it is important to investigate the relationship between empowering leadership behavior as structural empowerment property and team level creativity of employees. In this research building on the framework of the theory of group behavior (Wegner 1987) and componential theory of creativity (Amabile 1996), we proposed here that empowering leadership behavior as an important factor to foster the creativity of work teams by affecting the learning behavior of the teams and team psychological empowerment. We are likely to contribute to management literature in several ways. First, the most important implication for the theory is investigating the direct relationship of empowering leadership on team creativity. Empowering leadership is a form of structural empowering behavior (Liden et al. 2000) which was long conceptualized as having effect on performance-related outcomes on both individual and team levels (Chang and Chuang 2011, Ahearn et al. 2004), but team level investigations are very limited to empirically prove the relationship between empowering leadership as structural empowering behavior of leaders to their subordinates, in this research the researchers reinvestigated the direct impact of empowering leadership behavior on team level creativity of the employees.

Second, creativity is an important property of performance for the survival and existence of organizations in this contemporary dynamic environment (Shalley et al. 2004). In this research this recent trend in management studies captured by investigating creativity of teams as an important determinant of performance (e.g., Carnabuci and Dioszegi 2015, Chen et al. …

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