ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2015, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (4): 533-544.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2015.00533

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The Mechanisms of Knowledge Heterogeneity on Creativity of Knowledge Teams: An Interactive Cognition Perspective

LV Jie1; ZHANG Gang2   

  1. (1 Faculty of Management, Shanghai Business School, Shanghai 201400, China) (2 School of Management, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China)
  • Received:2014-03-04 Published:2015-04-25 Online:2015-04-25
  • Contact: LV Jie, E-mail:


In the current era of knowledge economy, organizations are increasingly dependent on knowledge teams to develop creative solutions and respond to the rapidly changing environment. Knowledge teams integrate the unique knowledge and skills of their members and thus have access to alternative perspectives when seeking solutions to problems. Because of this, knowledge heterogeneity is a typical characteristic of knowledge teams, and is considered by many researchers as an important factor that inspires team creativity. However, we are also led to believe that knowledge heterogeneity does not always impact positively on team creativity, as it may limit the effective knowledge sharing among team members and create a lot of negative issues. Currently, little is known about the complexity of the mechanisms through which knowledge heterogeneity works on team creativity. This study contributes to the existing literature by investigating such a complexity. In our study, we posit that the creativity of knowledge teams is not only influenced by knowledge heterogeneity and individual team member creativity, but also depends critically on the cognitive interactions among team members. The research surveyed 391 valid data from supervisor-subordinate dyads to examine our hypotheses. Using the method of hierarchical linear modeling, we analyzed how cognitive conflicts and task knowledge coordination influenced the relationship between knowledge heterogeneity and team/team-member creativity. The result shows that cognitive conflict mediates the relationship between knowledge heterogeneity and team/team-member creativity. It also shows that the effect of knowledge heterogeneity on creativity is moderated by task knowledge coordination. When the level of task knowledge coordination is high, knowledge heterogeneity is positively correlated to team/team-member creativity. However, when there is low task knowledge coordination, knowledge heterogeneity is not significantly correlated to individual team member creativity, and it presents an inverted U-shape relation with team creativity.

Key words: knowledge heterogeneity, team creativity, cognitive conflicts, task knowledge coordination