Factors Affecting Employee Creativity in Taiwan's Hakka Clothing Industry

By Hsu, Hsiu-Ju | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, March 2013 | Go to article overview

Factors Affecting Employee Creativity in Taiwan's Hakka Clothing Industry


Hsu, Hsiu-Ju, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


Creativity has become the lifeblood of many successful organizations (Diliello, Houghton, & Dawley, 2011). Many researchers suggest that enhancing employee creativity is necessary for organizations to maintain or improve their competitive positions (Amabile, 1988a; Devanna & Tichy, 1990; Randel, Jaussi, & Wu, 2011; Shalley, 1995). Many factors influence individual creativity, including personal characteristics and environmental characteristics (Amabile, 1997; Jawecki, Fuller, & Gebauer, 2011). In the rapidly changing workplace, managers need to ensure that employees have the creative knowledge and skills to perform their tasks (Shalley & Gilson, 2004). Many researchers have recently investigated employee creativity, focusing on the personal and contextual characteristics that enhance or restrict creativity (Shalley, Zhou, & Oldham, 2004).

The concept of creative industries is said to have originated in Australia in the 1990s (Bilton, 2007). The UK government's Creative Industries Task Force defined creative industries as those that rely on "individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property" (Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 1998). The term cultural and creative industries, as defined by the Taiwanese government, refers to organizations that utilize accumulated creativity and culture to create usable intellectual property that has the capacity to generate wealth and employment opportunities (Su, 2011). In Taiwan, the cultural traits of the different tribes have become an important element in the country's cultural and creative industries.

Hakka is a subculture of Taiwan that originated from mainland China over 300 years ago (Hsu, 2006). The Hakka people constitute about one fifth of the Taiwanese population of around 23 million (Hwang, 2012), and usually live in or near the hills in southern, northern, central, and eastern Taiwan. Among the Chinese ethnic groups, the Hakka people are the most conservative, endeavoring, hardworking, and enduring, in keeping with the traditional Chinese culture ("Hakka", 2004).

By the time of the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE), Chinese clothing had already developed a distinct form. Chinese clothing has changed significantly over time owing to the disruptions within the nation and a series of invasions by foreign tribes (Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission [OCAC], n.d.a). The traditional Hakka clothing has inherited the characteristics of Chinese clothing from the Han culture and, to this day, is characterized by practicality and thrift, as indicated by the high degree of simplicity and lack of adornments (Fan, Peng, Huang, Lin, & Zhang, 2000). Although Hakka creations (which include clothing, food, architecture, and entertainment, such as music and theater) reflect characteristics of the traditional Chinese culture, they also reflect the subculture's own special characteristics, for example the Hakka upper garment and pants for women known as the "blue shan" or "long shan" (OCAC, n.d.b).

The Taiwanese cultural and creative industries have grown significantly in the past decade and have become an important contributor to national income. From 2002 to 2007, the industries' output grew from US$132 million to US$192 million, and their employees increased from 162,000 to 211,000 (Chung-Hua Institute for Economic Research, as cited in Chen, Wang, & Sun, 2012). Recently, however, the vicissitudes of culture and increasing consumerism have negatively impacted the Hakka clothing industry, endangering its sustainability. A study by Hsu (2006) revealed that the industry is small scale and enterprises often take the form of artistic clothing studios that produce custom clothing based on the traditional Hakka style. Hsu also found that Hakka artistic clothing studio owners run their businesses with the aim of promoting the Hakka culture, but are somewhat pessimistic about the financial sustainability of the industry. …

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