Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Management Studies

Leader-Member Exchange and Creative Work Involvement: The Importance of Knowledge Sharing

Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Management Studies

Leader-Member Exchange and Creative Work Involvement: The Importance of Knowledge Sharing

Article excerpt


Global companies are exposed to rapid changes. They need employees who pursue new opportunities and constantly improve their work environment (Rank et al., 2004; Unsworth, 2001). Particularly, in a knowledge-based economy, organizations face rising needs to not only increase productivity but also creativity among their workers. The speed at which technologies change, as well as globalization and increasing competition, domestically and internationally, puts pressures on companies to be first-to-market, quick at solving problems and developing new groups of individuals who are able to work together (Amabile, 1988, p.126; cited in Atwater & Carmeli, 2009; Mumford et al., 2002). Leaders play an important role in directing the workers towards creativity (Mumford et al., 2002; Tierney, 2008; Rosing et al., 2011).

Researchers have shown the significance of knowledge sharing between workers, (Chowdhury, 2005) in order to improve the capacity of an organization to innovate and produce quality solutions (Daellenbach & Davenport, 2004). High quality leader-member exchange (LMX) relationships may also elevate knowledge sharing. LMX theory asserts that high quality leader-member relationships should motivate subordinates to commit to groups' and leaders' goals (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995). For example, if an employee perceives that a leader treats him/her justly and looks out for his/her best interests, he/she will tend to help the leader with accomplishing the leader's goals (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995). The perceived fairness can promote greater feelings of trust which also motivates knowledge sharing (Chowdhary, 2005; Lin et al., 2009). Knowledge is the component of creativity and innovation in organizations and empowers workers to create and deliver value to the organization (Wang & Noe, 2010). Hence, organizational leaders carefully notice the need to facilitate knowledge creation and sharing processes to promote creativity and innovation among workers (Collins & Smith, 2006).

Although previous research has examined the antecedents and consequences of job involvement (Atwater & Carmeli, 2009), relatively little is known about involvement in creative work, i.e., the extent to which an employee engages his or her time, effort, and resources in creative processes (Atwater & Carmeli, 2009). Creative work involvement is known as a critical factor of creative performance and innovation (Volmer et al., 2012; Ohly et al., 2006). Furthermore, it is important to understand employees' perceptions of creative wok involvement (Atwater & Carmeli, 2009; Carmeli & Schaubroeck, 2007; Kark & Carmeli, 2009). Focusing on creative work involvement, this research tries to suggest a new agenda for improving creativity at the workplace by developing a model depicting the mechanism of effects of leadership on creativity.

Moreover, this study attempts to examine the role of leader-member exchange relationships in facilitating knowledge sharing and promoting creativity to employees in organizations.

Literature Review

Leader-member Exchange Quality

Based on leader-member exchange (LMX) theory, leadership is a process focusing on the "relationship between a leader and followers" (Fisk & Friesen, 2012). Byrne (1971) showed the positive influence of shared attitudes, opinions, and beliefs between leaders and followers on their relationships. Following this paradigm, Danserea, Graenand Haga (1975) introduced "vertical dyad linkage theory" to describe the leader-follower relationship. Danserea et al.'s (2000) findings indicated that "leaders fostered differentiated dyadic exchanges with individual followers based upon similarities and differences" (cited in Barbuto & Gifford, 2012).

In its infancy, LMX research categorized the relationship leaders could have with their followers into two groups: the in-group and out-group, more recently referred to as high-quality and low-quality exchange, respectively (Fisk & Friesen, 2012). …

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