Employee creativity is the source of new products, services, or processes and crucial to a firm’s survival and success. Social factors play an important role in creativity. The first social factor is power. Power is ubiquitous in and an essential feature of organizations. Through a series of four field studies, we found that power is a double-edged sword – it enhances creativity through increasing risk taking but decreases it through decreasing perspective taking. Furthermore, openness moderates the effect and tilts it toward the positive side. The implication is that power should be bestowed to those with high openness to benefit creativity.

The second social factor a specific work experience. Individuals experience crisis from time to time. We do not examine natural disaster or pandemic type of crisis. Instead, we focus on crisis in R&D teams such as unexpected budget cut and departure of a key team member. Do employees demonstrate less creativity when experiencing crisis? In a series of two studies, we found that employee experienced crisis leads to job anxiety and therefore undermines creativity when an employee has a strong entity mindset, a mindset that one’s attributes are fixed. However, it leads to creative process engagement and thus engenders creativity when an employee has a strong growth mindset, a mindset that one’s attributes are malleable. The implication is that organizations select those with growth mindset and place them in jobs that facing more uncertain environment and hence more likely to experience crisis.

In addition to social factors, technology also plays an important role in creativity. AI is increasingly used in organizations and can be used to generate creative work. AI can also be used to augment (enhance) human creativity and help humans to learn to be more creative. However, there is a human bias in evaluating creative work generated by AI. My Ph.D. student’s work showed that AI generated work (compared to human generated one) is rated lower in creativity because of evaluator perception of lower AI effort in generating such work. In another study but on hiring, we found that an organization using AI in hiring (as compared using human in hiring) is perceived to be less warm, and hence reduce applicant attraction to the organization; using AI in hiring is not perceived to be more competent as compared to using human in hiring. The implication is that an augmentation approach (AI assisting human) rather than substitution should be adopted in hiring.

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Does an Employee-Experienced Crisis Help or Hinder Creativity? An Integration of Threat-Rigidity and Implicit Theories

The paradoxical relationship between sense of power and creativity: Countervailing pathways and a boundary condition