Academic journal article Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal

Understanding Employees´ Entrepreneurial Alertness: The Role of Creativity and Support for Creativity

Academic journal article Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal

Understanding Employees´ Entrepreneurial Alertness: The Role of Creativity and Support for Creativity

Article excerpt


Increasingly, firms are interested in encouraging employees to be more creative because individual creativity constitutes a precursor of both entrepreneurship and firm-level innovation (Shalley, Hitt & Zhou, 2015). Hence, today, firms have placed special attention on creative, innovative and entrepreneurial thinking and abilities to produce more valuable outcomes (Dino, 2015). Because of their interdependence, some researchers (e.g. Dino, 2015; Shalley et al., 2015; Ward, 2004; Zhou, 2008) have proposed integrating research on these phenomena, which appear inextricably connected yet conceptually distinct. Specifically, creativity involves a generation of ideas that are both novel and useful (Amabile, 1996); innovation focuses on the implementation of creative ideas (Baer, 2012) and entrepreneurship refers to the recognition of opportunities for useful outcomes (Shane, 2012).

More recently, research has focused on understanding the factors influencing creativity at work for promoting entrepreneurship within established firms (e.g. Blauth, Mauer & Brettel, 2014; Kuratko, 2015; Zhou & Hoever, 2014). Creativity is a key element of entrepreneurship, since it contributes to the unfolding of the whole entrepreneurial process and, within the entrepreneurial process, as has been suggested by some authors (e.g. Costa, Ehrenhard, Caetano & Santos, 2016; Gielnik, Frese, Graf & Kampschulte, 2012; Shane, 2012) opportunity recognition is the first stage and occurs at both individual and subjective levels. Considering that individuals vary in their ability to combine existing concepts into new ideas (Ward, 2004), creativity plays a role in opportunity recognition because it involves recognizing novel associations or patterns across disparate data points (Baron, 2006; Gielnik et al., 2012).

Acknowledging that idea generation and the recognition of opportunities are two distinguishable elements of the entrepreneurial process, the current study examines the relationship between two overlooked facets of creativity, creative potential and practised creativity (Caniěls & Rietzschel, 2015; DiLiello & Houghton, 2008), which may allow employees to be more alert and recognize opportunities from within firms. Thus, this study suggests that employees' creative potential is related to their level of practised creativity and that practised creativity, in turn, is related to the recognition of opportunities through the concept of entrepreneurial alertness (Tang, Kacmar & Busenitz, 2012). However, previous research (e.g. Amabile, Conti, Coon, Lazenby & Herron, 1996; Shalley, Zhou & Oldham, 2004; van Knippenberg & Hirst, 2015; Zhou & Hoever, 2014) has suggested that these relationships may be better understood from the moderating influences of the context in which the individual is embedded. Therefore, based on an interactionist approach (e.g. Oldham & Cummings, 1996; Woodman & Schoenfeldt, 1990), this study proposes the possibility that both of these relationships are moderated by the context, specifically support for creativity (Madjar, Oldham & Pratt, 2002).

The remainder of the study is organized as follows. The next section reviews the relevant literature and the development of the hypotheses. This is followed by a description of the research method. Results from the hierarchical regression analysis are then presented. The study concludes with a general discussion highlighting contributions and implications as well as avenues for future research.


Creative Potential and Practised Creativity

Creativity is a construct that is difficult to define and it cannot be easily analysed because of the various factors involved (Amabile, 1996). Historically, creativity has been defined both as an outcome and as a process (Shalley & Zhou, 2008). As an outcome, creativity requires the generation of a novel and useful product, idea or solution (George, 2007; Hennessey & Amabile, 2010). …

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