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Work and Organizational Psychology

Creativity and Innovation

Creativity and innovation

Creativity is a core competency in organizations to ensure growth and performance in an environment marked by rapid change and fierce competition. Although creativity is often considered a trait of the privileged few, any individual or team can become more creative—better able to generate novel and useful ideas and products. In our past and ongoing research on creativity, we set out to answer three broad questions: (1) What is creativity and how can it be measured? (2) Whether, when, and why do situational states and individual differences prevent or promote creativity? (3) How do leaders respond to creative ideas of their subordinates?

Baas et al. (2008). A meta-analysis of 25 years of mood-creativity research: Hedonic tone, activation, or regulatory focus? Psychological Bulletin, 134, 779-806.

What is creativity?

We developed a theoretical model called Dual Pathway to Creativity Model (DPCM) in which we propose that creativity is function of associative and flexible processing of information (flexibility) and hard, persistent, and organized work (persistence). DPCM has proved to be a useful model to explain how personality traits and situational states may have their effects on creativity. We currently work on the construction of a questionnaire measuring flexibility and persistence, and set out to discover the neural correlates of flexibility and persistence.

Nijstad, B. A., De Dreu, C.K.W., Rietzschel,  E.F.,  & Baas, M. (2010). The dual pathway to creativity model: creative ideation as a function of flexibility and persistence. European Review of Social Psychology, 21, 34-77.

Factors affecting creativity

Both individual and situational variables may affect creativity. Using a variety of research methods, we are investigating the cognitive and neural processes that play a role in people’s ability to come up with original ideas. For example, we study how the neurotransmitter dopamine influences the ability to switch between different ideas and perspectives during creative tasks. We also examine if creativity is related to specific personalities and/or induced by specific skills. 

Belonging to many social groups that vary in norms and cultures helps people to (1) practice switching between different perspectives on problems (2) reconcile inconsistent ideas and (3) affords a greater variety of sources for creative input. We are thus interested in how creativity is shaped by the situation. Some of our work investigates how exposure to unusual, counter-stereotypic targets affects creativity. Because creativity is important and needed to successfully deal with threatening situations, we furthermore look at how creative performance is shaped in reaction to threats (e.g. unemployment, conflict, physical attack, or threat to one’s social identity).

Baas, M.,  Nevicka, B.,  & Ten Velden, F. S.  (2014). Specific mindfulness skills differentially predict creative performance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 40, 1092-1106.

Baas, M., Nijstad, B. A., Boot, N. C., & De Dreu, C. K. W. (in press). Mad genius revisited: Psychopathologies, biobehavioral approach-avoidance, and creativity. Psychological Bulletin.

Baas, M., Roskes, M., Sligte, D., Nijstad, B. A., & De Dreu, C. K. W. (2013). Personality and creativity: A process model and research agenda. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 7, 732-748.

Gocłowska, M. A., Baas, M., Crisp, R. J., & De Dreu, C. K. W. (2014). Whether social schema violations help or hurt creativity depends on need for structure. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 959-971.

Gocłowska, M. A., & Crisp, R. J. (2014). How dual identity processes foster creativity.  Review of General Psychology, 18, 216-236. 

Nevicka, B., Baas, M., & Ten Velden, F. S. (2015). The bright side of threatened narcissism: Improved performance following ego threat. Journal of Personality. DOI:10.1111/jopy.12223

Steffens, N. K., Gocłowska, M. A., Cruwys, T., & Galinsky, A. D. (2016). How multiple social identities are related to creativity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 42, 188-203. 

Leaders and innovation

Innovation is of vital importance to organizations and society. Leaders fulfill a crucial role in the different phases of the innovation process. Relevant questions are: What is the role of the leader in stimulating employee creativity? How do leaders react to creative ideas voiced by their employees? Under what conditions are leaders likely to react in positive and supportive ways and when do they tend to nip those ideas in the bud? Which role do leaders have in successfully translating creative ideas into implemented ones? In our past and ongoing research, we are using a combination of experimental lab-studies and field-surveys to provide an answer to these questions.

Sijbom, R. B. L., Janssen, O., & Van Yperen, N. W. (2015a). How to get radical creative ideas into a leader’s mind? Leader’s achievement goals and subordinates’ voice of creative ideas. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 24, 279–296.

Sijbom, R. B. L., Janssen, O., & Van Yperen, N. W. (2015b). Leaders’ receptivity to subordinates’ creative input: The role of achievement goals and composition of creative input. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 24, 462–478.

Sijbom, R.B.L., Janssen, O., & Van Yperen, N.W. (2015c). Leaders’ reactions to radical creative ideas voiced by employees: The role of leaders’ achievement goals. Gedrag en Organisatie, 28, 154-173.

Faculty working on Creativity and Innovation are: Matthijs Baas, Barbara Nevicka, and Roy Sijbom

Postdoc: Malgorzata Goclowska

PhD students: Yujie Cheng, Nathalie Boot