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Managerial creative problem solving and the Big Five personality traits: Distinguishing divergent and convergent abilities

Nils Myszkowski (ESCE – International Business School, Paris, France AND Laboratoire Adaptations Travail-Individu, Université Paris Descartes, Paris, France)
Martin Storme (ESCE – International Business School, Paris, France AND Laboratoire Adaptations Travail-Individu, Université Paris Descartes, Paris, France)
Andrés Davila (ESCE – International Business School, Paris, France)
Todd Lubart (Laboratoire Adaptations Travail Individu, Université Paris Descartes, Paris, France)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 8 June 2015

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide new elements to understand, measure and predict managerial creativity. More specifically, based on new approaches to creative potential (Lubart et al., 2011), this study proposes to distinguish two aspects of managerial creative problem solving: divergent-exploratory thinking, in which managers try to generate several new solutions to a problem; and convergent-integrative thinking, in which managers select and elaborate one creative solution.

Design/methodology/approach

In this study, personality is examined as a predictor of managerial creative problem solving: On one hand, based on previous research on general divergent thinking (e.g. Ma, 2009), it is hypothesized that managerial divergent thinking is predicted by high openness to experience and low agreeableness. On the other hand, because efficient people management involves generating satisfying and trustful social interactions, it is hypothesized that convergent-integrative thinking ability is predicted by high agreeableness. In all, 137 adult participants completed two divergent-exploratory thinking managerial tasks and two convergent-integrative thinking managerial task and the Big Five Inventory (John and Srivastava, 1999).

Findings

As expected, divergent-exploratory thinking was predicted by openness to experience (r=0.21; p<0.05) and agreeableness (r=−0.22; p<0.05) and the convergent-integrative thinking part of managerial creative problem solving was predicted by agreeableness (r=0.28; p<0.001).

Originality/value

Contrary to most research on managerial creativity (e.g. Scratchley and Hakstian, 2001), the study focuses (and provides measure guidelines) on both divergent and convergent thinking dimensions of creative potential. This study replicates and extends previous results regarding the link between personality (especially agreeableness) and managerial creativity.

Keywords

Citation

Myszkowski, N., Storme, M., Davila, A. and Lubart, T. (2015), "Managerial creative problem solving and the Big Five personality traits: Distinguishing divergent and convergent abilities", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 34 No. 6, pp. 674-684. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMD-12-2013-0160

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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