Team creativity is becoming more and more essential for organizations to adapt to dynamically changing environment. Previous literature on team creativity was mainly focused on the impact of leadership behavior on employees’ creative motivation and subsequent creative performance. Less attention has been paid to employees’ cognitive response to leaders’ expectation on creativity. Therefore, based on normative reference group theory and process-oriented theory of knowledge emergence in teams, the current study attempted to examine the mediating effects of employees’ behaviors in response to supervisor’s creativity expectation (i.e., team knowledge exchange behavior and team boundary spanning behavior), and investigate the moderating role of supervisor’s creative role identity.
Data was collected from 568 employees working in 116 teams from four IT and software companies in Beijing and Shenzhen, China. Three waves of data collection were conducted. In the first wave, participants were required to report their demographic information (e.g. age, gender, education, and tenure), and their perceptions of supervisors’ creativity expectation. In the second wave, participants assessed team knowledge exchange behavior and team boundary spanning behavior. In the third wave, team supervisors evaluated their own creative role identity and team creativity. We used Mplus 7.2 to estimate our hypothesized models.
Results showed that: 1) supervisors’ creativity expectation was positively related to both team knowledge exchange behavior and team boundary spanning behavior. 2) Team knowledge exchange behavior was positively associated with team creativity, whereas the relationship between team boundary spanning behavior and team creativity was not significant. 3) Supervisors’ creative role identity significantly moderated the relationship between team boundary spanning behavior and team creativity. Specifically, when supervisors had high level of creative role identity, team boundary spanning behavior did not distract from team creativity, whereas when supervisors’ creative role identity was low, team boundary spanning behavior harmed team creativity. The moderating effect of supervisor’s creative role identity on the relationship between team knowledge exchange behavior and team creativity was not significant.
The current study contributes to the literature of team creativity in several aspects. First, different from previous team creativity literature, this study demonstrated a cognitive model explaining how team leader’s creativity expectation influences team creativity. Second, this study extended the normative reference group theory by clarifying the roles of leader’s creativity expectation and creative role identity in enhancing team creativity. Specifically, our study implies that both of team knowledge exchange behavior and team boundary spanning behavior are both stimulated by team supervisors’ creativity expectation. More importantly, supervisors’ creative role identity plays an important role in mitigating the negative effects of team boundary spanning behavior on team creativity. Third, this study also contributed to the process-oriented theory of knowledge emergence in teams by demonstrating the essential role of leader in enhancing the collective process of creative knowledge learning and sharing. Accordingly, managerial implications regarding team creativity management are discussed. We suggest that supervisors in knowledge-intensive companies should always be a real creator to enhance team creativity.
领导的创造力角色认同的调节效应注：N = 116. *p < 0.05, **p < 0.01; 当领导的创造力角色认同水平较低时, 斜率为 -0.64, p < 0.05; 当领导的创造力角色认同水平较高时, 斜率为0.20, p > 0.05。
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