ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2016, Vol. 48 ›› Issue (12): 1551-1560.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2016.01551

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The effects of group diversity and organizational support on group creativity

ZHANG Jinghuan1; LIU Xin2; REN Feifei1; SUN Xiangwei3; YU Qi1   

  1. (1 Department of Psychology, Shandong Normal University, Jinan 250014, China) (2 Shandong Shibo Educational and Cultural Development Corporation, Linyi 276000, China) (3 Shanxi University of Finance and Economics Huashang College, Taiyuan 030012, China)
  • Received:2014-07-09 Published:2016-12-24 Online:2016-12-24
  • Contact: ZHANG Jinghuan, E-mail:


The research on group creativity has recently surged for its importance in the development of business and society. Group creativity is recognized widely as the ability to produce original and adaptive products, and several influential factors have been examined in the previous research. Among these influential factors, diversity is a powerful predictor. Information and Decision–making Theories suggest that diversity leads to improved cognitive processing and better use of information; while Social-Categorization Theory indicates that diversity is likely to negatively affect team processes and group creativity. Postulations proposed by each theory have their own supporting experimental evidence. Recently, researchers come to realize that whether the diversity promotes the group creativity depends on the organization context, especially the organizational support, which is always regarded as a positive factor for group creativity. Therefore, the present study was designed to test the interactive effect of diversity and organizational support on group creativity. To our best knowledge, there has been no study focused on this problem. Two experiments were carried out to investigate the interactive effects. Experiment 1 was a mixed design with the organizational support (instrumental/emotional/ material support) as a within-subject factor, and specialty diversity (specialty heterogeneous/homogeneous team) as the between-subject factor. Two hundred and sixteen undergraduate students forming fifty-four groups participated in the experiment. Experiment 2 was a between-subject design, and diversity was focused on further diverse groups—team with strong or weak faultline. Three hundred and twelve undergraduate students (four students formed one group) participated in experiment 2. The same experimental procedure was applied in the two experiments using product design task, and CAT technique was used to appraise the group creativity. Results showed that: (1) the interaction between diversity and organizational support was significant for originality of group creativity. Specifically, the originality in specialty heterogeneous teams was higher than that in specialty homogeneous teams under the condition of instrumental support, and the originality in the teams with strong faultlines was higher than that in the teams with weak faultlines under the condition of emotional support and instrumental support. (2) the appropriateness of group creativity in specialty heterogeneous teams was higher than that in homogeneous teams. The score of appropriateness was significantly higher in the teams under the condition of the material support than that of emotional support and instrumental support. The latter existed in both experiments. These results suggested that diverse teams had the potential to promote group creativity, but the effect was moderated by organizational support and varied on different aspects of group creativity. Specifically, instrumental support mainly promoted the originality of group creativity in the teams with specialty heterogeneity and strong faultlines, while emotional support was conducive to originality in teams with strong faultlines. Moreover, among the three types of organizational support, material support was the best predictor of the appropriateness. These results shed lights on the understanding of the two theories we mentioned in the beginning, and provided practical implications for organizations to promote group creativity.

Key words: group creativity, diversity, specialty heterogeneity, faultline group, organizational support