EMPOWERING LEADERSHIP AND TEAM CREATIVITY: THE ROLES OF TEAM LEARNING BEHAVIOR, TEAM CREATIVE EFFICACY, AND TEAM TASK COMPLEXITY XIAOMENG ZHANG Kogod School of Business American University 4400 Massachusetts Ave. N.W. Washington, D.C.20016 YUAN YI CHEN Hong Kong Baptist University HO KWONG KWAN Drexel University ABSTRACT Integrating leadership and creativity theories, we tested a model that links empowering leadership with team creativity. Using longitudinal data from 102 R&D teams across three IT companies, we found empowering leadership positively influenced team creativity via team learning behavior and team creative efficacy. And team task complexity strengthened these relationships. INTRODUCTION As one way of coping with rapid technological change and fierce global competition, many organizations are increasingly relying on teams to ignite the creative spark of their employees (Paulus, 2008; Shin & Zhou, 2007). Although the creativity literature has made considerable progress in understanding individual creativity, the research on team creativity for ordinary teams in the workplace has far lagged behind (Shalley, Zhou, & Oldham, 2004). Team creativity refers to the production of novel and potentially useful ideas about products, services, process, and procedures by a group of employees (Shin & Zhou, 2007). More and more theoretical arguments suggest that team leaders’ empowering behaviors play a key role in enabling team members’ latitude and promoting their motivation, thus eliciting creative actions of the team (Amabile, Schatzel, Moneta, & Kramer, 2004; Kirkman & Rosen, 1997, 1999; Mumford, Scott, Gaddis, & Strange, 2002; Shalley & Gilson, 2004). Despite the theoretical relevance of empowering leadership with team creativity, there is no empirical evidence that empowering leadership serves as an antecedent of team creativity. Therefore, a major purpose of this study is to build and empirically test a conceptual model that links empowering leadership with the creativity of R&D teams. In building theory linking empowering leadership and team creativity, we integrate Amabile’s (1983) componential model of creativity and Marks Mathieu, and Zaccaro’s (2001) team process framework to examine the mediating effects of team learning behavior and team creative efficacy, which represent a team process and an emergent state, respectively. To further extend the model, we base on contingent perspective of leadership (Howell & Dorfman, 1981; Yukl, 2006) to test the moderating effect of team task complexity. By arguing that high team task complexity represents a context that requires a larger role of team leaders, we propose empowering leadership
has greater impact on team learning behavior and team creative efficacy, and, ultimately, team creativity when task complexity is high. THEORY AND HYPOTHESES Empowering Leadership and Team Creativity Empowering leadership is defined as team leaders’ behaviors that facilitate the sharing of power with and enhance the work motivation of team members (Srivastava, Bartol, & Locke, 2006). Studies suggest that empowering leadership is essential for good team performance (Kirkman & Rosen, 1999; Srivastava et al., 2006). However, to our knowledge, no empirical study has investigated the impact of empowering leadership on team creativity, despite its theoretical relevance. Through leading by example, empowering leaders demonstrate their own commitment to the work for better performance, and thus act as role models for team members, who will try in different ways to achieve the team goals related to creative outcomes. Through coaching, empowering leaders boost the confidence and facilitate the ability of team members to challenge the status quo and increase the level of self-reliance and efficiency of the latter in accomplishing tasks. Enhanced team confidence and abilities will help the team develop new ideas, resulting in more creative outcomes (Amabile, 1983, 1996). By encouraging...
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