Linking Empowerment and Employee Creativity: The Mediating Roles of Creative Process Engagement and Intrinsic Motivation
Bartol, Kathryn M.
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With an increasingly turbulent environment, heightened levels of competition, and unpredictable technological change, more and more organizations are encouraging their employees to be creative. Considerable evidence indicates that employee creativity can substantially contribute to organizational innovation, effectiveness, and survival (Amabile, 1996; Madjar, Oldham, & Pratt, 2002; Shalley, Zhou, & Oldham, 2004). Not surprisingly, the field of organizational behavior has witnessed an increasing interest in understanding factors that promote employee creativity. One factor that has been suggested as being particularly important is empowerment (e.g., Amabile, 1983, 1996; Spreitzer, 1995). Drawing on leadership theories, empowerment theories, and creativity theories, the major purpose of this dissertation was to develop and empirically test an integrative process model linking empowerment approaches with creativity. More specifically, this model integrates leadership theories and empowerment theories to explore how empowering leadership influences both psychological empowerment and job structural empowerment. It also examines how psychological empowerment and job structural empowerment influence employee creativity via the mediating effect of employee creative process engagement and intrinsic motivation. Finally, it investigates how certain personal characteristics (e.g., domain-relevant skills, openness to experience, and proactivity) and a contextual factor--leader encouragement of creativity--work as moderators to affect employee creativity. Using survey data from a large information technology company in the People's Republic of China (PRC), the theoretical model was examined though structural equation modeling and hierarchical regression analyses. Findings indicated that empowering leadership was positively related to psychological empowerment, which was fully mediated by creative process engagement in influencing employee creativity. In addition, empowering leadership also had a direct impact on job structural empowerment, whose impact on creativity was mediated by intrinsic motivation directly and also indirectly through its influence on creative process engagement. Further results showed that leader encouragement of creativity interacted with psychological empowerment to further motivate employees to engage in the creative process. Moreover, employees' proactive characteristics strengthened the positive influence of creative process engagement and intrinsic motivation on creativity. Implications for theory and practice and future research direction are discussed.