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Group creativity

Various studies have focused on analyzing group creativity and creativity in work teams (e.g., Kelly & Littman, 2001; King & Anderson, 1990; Kurtzberg & Amabile, 2000). Mainly, they have been oriented to analyze how groups interact regarding creativity and how effective such interactions are for creativity.

Group creativity: variables

Improve creativity and skills in problem solving (PS) can enhance the strategic planning of organizations (Wheatley, Anthony y Maddox, 1991). In this sense, some authors maintain that training on creative skills works better in groups than at the individual level (Basadur et al., 1986), although there is no absolute consensus on these results (Bottger & Yetton, 1987), because in groups there are factors that can inhibit creativity, such as the social pressure that the group exerts on the individual, and that generates situations of social conformity (Asch, 1956).

Variables such as leadership, cohesion, group longevity, group composition, and structure are the antecedents of the deployment of group creativity and innovation (King & Anderson, 1990).

Another element that influences group creativity is the availability of resources (Payne, 1990); an example may be access to information (Bateman et al.,1987; Griffin, 1983; Salancik & Pteffer, 1978).

Group creativity as shared knowledge


From the shared knowledge approach, group creativity has provided some units of study.

Some researchers have focused on group characteristics such as homogeneity/heterogeneity. In this sense, it seems that creativity is intensified by diversity, not only intellectual but also by cultural heterogeneity. However, continuing with this analysis of synergies that occur in group interaction, other authors indicate that excessive diversity hinders members’ understanding and can even nullify it.

Amabile (1983), from her Psychosocial Theory of Creativity, has been interested in the effects of evaluations and the expectations the group can create about its creative self-efficacy due to them

Group creativity from the cognitive approach

From cognitive psychology, the influence of the cognitive styles that make up the group’s creative results has been analyzed (Hayward & Everett, 1983).

Leonard & Strauss (1997) advocate fostering innovation and group creativity by combining people with different cognitive styles to generate what they call creative abrasion.

Some authors point out that large teams have more cognitive resources, which could contribute to improving group creativity and performance (Certo et al., 2006), while other authors point out that the size of the team also can have a negative influence, in that the number of members increases the probability of conflict and problems related to coordination and control, which would lead to a decrease in performance (Escribá-Esteve et al., 2009).

As can be seen, some results are contradictory, so we will review meta-analytical studies to find a clear conclusion about the relationships and influences of some of the factors presented.


Creativity from network theory

Other approaches to group creativity have been made from network theory. From this approach, some studies have tried:

  • The analysis of informal networks and social networks related to problem-solving (Wenger & Snyder, 2000),
  • Creativity networks that integrate customers into organizations (Von Hippel, 1978) and
  • Networks that integrate proveedores (Hyland, et al., 2006).

These networks are considered valuable sources of new knowledge and extremely important for innovation in companies.



Given the diversity of approaches and variables that have been addressed in their studies, as well as the disparate results obtained (West & Farr, 1989), some meta-analítycal works have served to situate state-of-the-art better on this issue. In this sense, several factors related, to a greater or lesser extent, to the innovative capacity of work teams have been identified.

Team structure and composition 

Recent studies indicate that factors related to team structure do not have as noticeable an impact as previously thought.

Hülsheger et al. (2009), After meta-analyzing multiple primary studies, they found that team climate dimensions correlate more strongly with innovation (Rho=0.49) than structure and composition, whose correlation values were weaker and, in several of the dimensions, not significant.

Previous studies on the composition show disparate results, from a strong influence to an insignificant one, as well as different influences depending on the phase of the innovation process we find ourselves in.

It seems to confirm that high diversity/heterogeneity in teams does not always lead to greater innovation due to issues, among others, of cohesion among members, which ends up affecting results (Anderson & King, 1991).


Climate and processes

Continuing with the meta-analysis of Hülsheger et al. (2009), When analyzing the primary studies from the Four Factors Theory (West, 1990), find the following correlations (Spearman) of innovation with team vision (0.49), participatory security (0.15), innovation support (0.47) y task orientation (0.41).

They also find significant correlations with team cohesion (0.31), internal communication processes (0.36) and external communication comunicación (0.47). According to the authors, these results highlight the importance of team climate and processes for innovation.

It should be noted from this study that dimensions related to conflicttask and relationship conflict– yield marginal values of correlation (negligible) with innovation.

Leadership style

One of the meta-analyses that have been addressed to shed light on the leadership issue is the one carried out by Rosing and his colleagues (2011).

As several authors argued, transformational leadership correlates significantly and strongly in the opening phase of the innovation process, that is, with the idea generation phase. In contrast, transactional leadership seems more effective in later phases, such as implementation. In the generation phase, a more participatory style stimulates innovation at the team level; however, according to the ambidexterity theory, the more directive style is more appropriate for leading ideas to the development of innovations.

Modelos de creatividad: sistémico

In summary, many factors are incorporated into the study of group creativity, of which I have only mentioned a few.

To address the study of group creativity, it is necessary to clearly define the social entities that will be studied (Choi & Thompson, 2005). Likewise, it is important to adopt a systemic approach that includes the individual level, group, organizational, and the interaction of these three levels (Chen & Kaufman, 2008; Woodman et al., 1993).

At the organizational level, the systemic approach has been the most used to explain organizational innovation and creativity. This conceptual framework emphasizes the person-context interaction and the factors that enhance or inhibit creativity (Shalley et al., 2009; Yuan & Woodman, 2010; Zhou & Shalley, 2010).


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