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Personality, attitude, and leader influences on divergent thinking and creativity in organizations

Scott David Williams (Asssistant Professor in the Department of Management at Raj Soin College of Business, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio, USA)

European Journal of Innovation Management

ISSN: 1460-1060

Article publication date: 1 September 2004



Divergent thinking is an integral process in creativity. This study presents and tests an interactionist, divergent‐thinking based model of individual creativity in organizations. Openness to experience is a personality trait that relates to divergent thinking and, therefore, is hypothesized to be related to creative performance in organizations. The effects of openness to experience are likely to be partially mediated by an individual's attitude toward divergent thinking (ATDT). Some individuals do not care to engage in divergent thinking, and researchers have asserted that negative ATDT is an impediment to individual creativity in organizations. However, the empirical link between one's ATDT and one's creative performance has yet to be demonstrated. Contextual factors also influence creative attitudes and behavior. ATDT is also likely to be influenced by one's supervisor's attitude. The amount of structure that supervisors initiate for their subordinates is likely to have a direct, negative effect on subordinates' divergent thinking, and may also affect divergent thinking indirectly by influencing subordinates’ ATDT. Results generally support the model. Openness to experience and ATDT are positively associated with employees' creative performance. In addition, some support is provided for a negative relationship between initiating structure and subordinates’ ATDT.



Williams, S.D. (2004), "Personality, attitude, and leader influences on divergent thinking and creativity in organizations", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 7 No. 3, pp. 187-204.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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