Publication: Academy of Management Journal (JUN 2009)
Article: Interactive effects of growth need strength, work context, and job complexity on self-reported creative performance.
Authors: C.E. Shalley, L.L. Gilson, T.C. Blum
Reviewed by: Benjamin Granger
A creative workforce can give an organization a unique competitive advantage over its “status quo” competition. But what factors influence creative performance? To provide an answer to this question, Shalley, Gilson, and Blum (2009) tested the role of growth need strength in predicting creative performance at work.
So what exactly is “growth need strength?” It refers to an employee’s desire to develop and improve herself in her current job. Not surprisingly, Shalley et al. expected that employees high in “growth need strength” would report higher levels of creative performance at work and that’s exactly what they found.
Shalley et al. surveyed 1,465 U.S. employees over the phone using random digit dialing. Most importantly, the authors determined that the sample used was very similar demographically to that collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Census, suggesting that this sample is representative of the working population in the U.S.
In addition to finding that “growth need strength” predicts self-reported creative performance, Shalley and colleagues were also interested in how the work context might impact creativity. For example, they found that the highest creative performance came from employees high in “growth need strength,” who perceive their work environment to be supportive, and have complex jobs.
These findings suggest that individual factors (e.g., growth need strength) along with contextual factors (e.g., complexity of job, supportive work environment) interact to influence creative performance at work (self reported anyway). This implies that organizations can identify employees likely to be high in creative performance using “growth need strength” measures, but can also impact creative performance by creating a supportive work environment and designing jobs that allow for creativity and innovation.
Shalley, C.E., Gilson, L.L., & Blum, T.C. (2009). Interactive effects of growth need strength, work context, and job complexity on self-reported creative performance. Academy of Management Journal, 52(3), 489-505.Shall