With the rapid changes taking place in the present day business environment, creativity has assumed great importance as one of the critical success factors (George, 2007: Runco, 2004). Several scholarly work and research literature has highlighted the importance of employee creativity for enhancing and sustaining organizational performance. The issue of improving employee creativity has drawn increased attention of the managers in their efforts to build organizational capabilities to respond effectively and innovatively to meet the dynamic competitive situations.
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Normally there are two challenges, which the mangers face with improving the creativity of the employees (Amabile et at., 2002). First, the managers have to help the employees contend with the uncertainty inherent to the development of creative abilities and second, motivating employees to become creative. Creativity can be considered risky because it involves shifting the current ways of thinking about and doing things. By nature, creative ideas are novel and tend to deviate from conventional wisdom. Creative ideas depart from the status quo.
The potential advantage of any creative idea is directly associated with the extent to which such idea deviate from the current ways of thinking and acting (Christensen, 2003). Contrastingly, people have a tendency to resist new ideas and they prefer to maintain the status quo. Employees in particular are sensitive to the uncertainties connected with the implementation of new ideas and they are afraid of the likely failures that accompany creative ideas (Jones, 2001; Piderit, 2000). Practitioners and consultants suggest that managerial practices and changes in organizational culture would act to mitigate the resistance of the employees to creative ideas. However, there is no research evidence to prove these assertions.
The second challenge of creating conditions that would encourage employees to generate creative ideas has been the subject matter of several studies. Studies have identified intrinsic motivation as one of the enablers of employee creativity (Shalley et al. 2004). In this context, this research extends to the issues associated with lack of creativity among the employees of the chosen organization AlKifah Batching Plant Factory. The study assesses the gaps and root causes for lack of creativity in this organization.
Background of the Study
It is often observed that implementation of new and innovative ideas are a key success factor for many organizations in a rapidly changing business environment. In this context, creativity and innovation are considered as the conventional tools for improving the functioning of the organization. Creativity not only leads to the generation of innovations but also helps defining some of the business problems.
In certain business situations, problems emerge which cannot be defined bully but need to be solved. In these instances, a hunch or guesswork may turn out to be appropriate; however, the true process of developing the solution in this way is complex. It takes the way of forming a strange intellectual method in mind, and it is applied in solving the problem and in the process, it gives rise to some ambiguity. Such business issues are not few and occasional but many and frequent demanding a large amount of creative thinking to solve the problems.
While examining the value of creativity, it is essential that the link between creativity, innovation and performance be considered. While creativity appears to be an unconditionally desirable phenomenon, in reality it is not so (Nakamura, 2000). One of the main explanations behind this assertion is that creativity may expose the present production process and production designs to certain risks. It is to be noted that that for creating every breakthrough innovation there are multiples of actions and products, which become obsolete. There are additional problems with creativity such as the issues in quantifying it and the natural hazards in implementing innovation. Nevertheless, creativity is considered as a positive asset for modern organizations and this makes the study about the factors affecting creativity among employees an interesting topic.
Innovation through creativity is a significant factor in enabling an organization to gain sustainable competitive advantage. Rapid technological changes and shortened product life cycles have increased the pressure on organizations to induce creativity and introduce innovative products and designs. Measuring and maintaining a high level of creativity of the employees is a very important player in the success of the institution that is based on custom-made products. The project will be an analysis of different departments’ creativity work within AlKifah Batching Plant.
The departments that will be the focus of this analysis are the design, production, maintenance, and store keeping and sales. AlKifah Batching Plant Factory is a manufacturer of heavy equipment such as concrete mixing plants and aggregate washing plants located in the Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia. This organization is found to have many gaps in employee creativity and it lacked creativity resulting in poor organizational performance. To start with the design department, there are gaps such as optimum solutions for problems with the product manufactured.
In the production department, there are issues with the optimum flow of the product within the shop floor resulting in the slowness in turnaround of manufacturing process. In store keeping, the major issues found were that materials were all stored on the ground & requiring more space in addition to the problem in the process of receiving and issuing materials. Within the purchasing function, there was an issue of not finding new suppliers to improve the quality or reduce the price. The current study proposes to find the reasons for these gaps and for the lack in creativity and make suitable recommendations to achieve improved organizational performance enhancing the employee creativity.
Objectives of the Study
The aim of this study is to find effective ways of inducing and facilitating creativity among the employees of a manufacturing organization. This calls for an evaluation and assessment of the gaps and root causes for lack of creativity among the employees so that effective ways of improving the creativity of the employees. Therefore, the main objective of the study is to assess the gap and root causes for lack of creativity among the employees in a manufacturing organization. In accomplishing this central aim the study attempts to achieve the following other objectives.
- Studying the factors that influence the creativity among the employees of an organization in general.
- Studying the relationship between employee motivation and creativity and its impact on organizational performance.
Based on the theoretical findings the study attempts to suggest ways of improving the creativity and organizational performance among the employees of the chosen organization of AlKifah Batching Plant Factory located in Saudi Arabia.
Significance of the Study
Organizations especially technology-oriented ones are expected to be more creative and innovative than before in order to survive and compete with their rivals. Such creative and innovative capabilities are needed for the organizations to grow and become the industry/market leaders (Jung et al., 2003; Tierney et al., 1999). The essence of successful creative efforts is to bring changes in the organizational processes and procedures. However, employees seem to resist changes and may even resort to other rigid actions to avoid change. There are other organizational, cultural and attitudinal factors, which influence the creativity among the employees. In addition, creativity requires employees adopt ways of thinking, which are inherently unpredictable and more ambiguous than the traditional methods.
Organizations to be competitive must involve themselves in continuous innovation and knowledge creation. In the time when change takes place, best organizational practices might become worst practices instantly and things, which are considered proper and appropriate today might become inappropriate tomorrow. This requires a continuous evaluation of the organizational practices as to their effectiveness in inducing creativity among the employees. A continuation evaluation is the only way to identify gaps and root causes for lack of creativity and such assessment becomes significant to make the organization competitive and improve its performance level.
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Definition of Terms
Literature provides several definitions for the terms creativity and innovation. According to a widely accepted definition, creativity is the generation of ideas, which are novel and useful, while innovation is the successful implementation of such creative ideas within the context of an organization. Thus, creativity is confined to the individual level and innovation is an activity undertaken at the organizational level. The term creativity is attributed different meanings in the context of different cultures. For the purpose of this study, the term creativity will be construed as the capacity to create pioneering ideas and convert them from concepts to actions within a productive organization.
Limitations of Study
One major limitation of the study was to gather the primary information from the employees of the chosen organization, as there was the need to explain the objective of the study and the necessity of collecting the basic information. Because of the inherent fear on divulging organizational information, the employees contacted were reluctant in parting with the information and their own perceptions on the gaps in creativity in the different departments of the chosen organization.
The researcher has to translate the questionnaire into Arabic and had to make lengthy explanations about the purpose of the study. This impeded the speedy progress of the research, as the researcher had to make several rounds of talks with the selected employees to collect useful information. While there are abundance of literature on the association between motivation and creativity and leadership and creativity, the literature on other attitudinal factors influencing creativity among employees especially in the Middle Eastern context appears to be very limited.
This has affected the ability of the researcher to draw significant theoretical information on the behavioral influences on the employees’ creativity in the Saudi Arabian context, which is the setting of the study. The researcher had to make several assumptions in this connection, which would have slightly affected the validity of the study. Nevertheless, the researcher is confident that the impact is not that significant to vitiate the findings of the study.
Organization of the Study
In order to present in a comprehensive way, this research report is structured to have different chapters. Chapter One while introducing the subject matter of the study, discusses the background and significance of the study and lays down the objectives of the study. The limitations of the study are discussed herein. Chapter Two contains an analytical review of the prior literature on the topic presented with the objective of adding to the existing knowledge on the topic. Chapter Three briefly describes the research design and methodology used to conduct the research. Chapter Four presents the data analysis and results of the research. A discussion on the findings of the study is presented through chapter Five. Chapter Six concludes the report by containing a brief summary of the discussions included in the research report and the chapter contains few recommendations for further research in the area.
Creativity has been considered vital to the success of an organization, because of its ability to make significant contributions to organizational innovations and to increase the competitive ability through superior performance. In the globalized economy, the role of employee creativity for organizational survival cannot be undermined. Employees working at any level of the organization can generate creative ideas and such ideas once implemented successfully by the organization become innovations. Therefore, employee creativity is to be considered as the first step towards organizational innovation. This chapter presents a review on different facets of employee creativity by drawing information from the previous literature and findings of research studies.
Employee Creativity – a Theoretical Background
Employee creativity has been found to be a complex behavior subjected to the influence of both personal and contextual factors (Amabile, 1996; Shalley et al. 2004). Personality and cognitive cycles are the personality factors that affect the employee creativity. Work environment characteristics are the contextual factors that influence the employee activity and behavior and consequently the employee creativity. Job characteristics, work settings, worker-supervisor relationships and relationships among workers themselves are some of the examples of work environment characteristics. Woodman et al (1993) observed that intrinsic motivation and knowledge are the two essential elements of employee creativity. The following figure illustrates a conceptual model of contextual factors affecting the employee creativity.
This conceptual framework has grouped the organizational contextual factors in to three distinct categories – social capital, intrinsic motivation and knowledge, which affect the employee creativity.
Intrinsic Motivation and Employee Creativity
According to previous research, the organizational contextual factors generally affect employee creativity through the intervening influence of intrinsic motivation (Deci and Ryan, 1985). This intervening effect is often explained with Cognitive Evaluation Theory (Deci and Ryan, 1985). “According to this theory, when the informational aspect of a contextual factor is more salient, individual feel supported and encouraged, which therefore, enhances intrinsic motivation.
In contrast, when the controlling aspect is more salient, individuals feel that their thoughts and behaviors are being controlled by the contextual factor, so as to diminish individuals’ intrinsic motivation.” Job design is an important contributor to employee creativity. When the employees work on interesting and challenging jobs, they are more likely to have high levels of intrinsic motivation. Similarly, when the employees are provided with high degree of job autonomy and freedom of decision-making, they will be intrinsically motivated.
In developing and maintaining intrinsic motivation, appropriate rewards have been identified as a critical factor (Deci, Koestner and Ryan, 1999). Individual personal competencies, which are recognized by rewards containing informational value will have a strong influence in enhancing intrinsic motivation of employees and consequently will encourage employee creativity. Supportive and positive feedback and encouragement from supervisors and coworkers are examples of some of the rewards. The recognition of individual employee creativity and competencies by coworkers and supervisors are some of the other rewards, which could generate creativity.
For an individual to create new ideas, knowledge is considered as an essential element (Amabile, 1988). There are three significant factors, which contribute to the knowledge of the individuals. They are (i) domain knowledge, (ii) idea sharing and (iii) innovation guidance. Domain knowledge is one of the basic elements for the employees to become creative while performing their jobs (Amabile et al 1996). Any invention is to be regarded as a social process of accumulation of knowledge.
A new idea can be formed as an inspiration from the ideas of other people or a further expansion of existing ideas. Employee creativity can be boosted by sharing knowledge and ideas among employees (Fischer et al. 2002). Organizational innovation can be made effective by directing and guiding employees’ creativity needs towards the usefulness of such innovation. Ginzburg et al (2007) are of the opinion that combining both a bottom-up approach of collecting creative ideas from the employees and a top-down approach of providing guidance on the creativity would facilitate organizational creativity and innovation.
Social capital through its relationship with many contextual factors influences intrinsic motivation and employee knowledge and thereby affects employee creativity and innovation. Three operational dimensions define the social capital (Nahapiet and Ghoshal, 1998). They are (i) structural dimension, (ii) relational dimension and (iii) cognitive dimension. While structural dimension is the relationship network, which enables them to seek assistance and cooperation, relational dimension represents the trust that people possess towards each other along the relationship network.
Cognitive dimension is the shared understanding, beliefs, interests and problems, which hold a group of people together (Florida, 2002). Social creativity in organization is largely facilitated by accumulation of social capital. For example, supportive relationships among individuals represent the rewards for intrinsic motivation in the structural and relational dimension (Deci, Koestner and Ryan, 1999). Shared understandings and interests enhance the effectiveness of knowledge sharing and collective learning in the context of cognitive dimension (Wenger et al. 2002).
Personal Factors and Creativity
Normally there will be differences in the ability of the employees to generate new ideas. Early research focusing on the creative achievements of individuals studied the effects of individual differences in the areas of individuals’ personalities or thinking and problem-solving skills. Gough (1979) developed Creative Personality Scale (CPS), which could measure the creative-relevant personality characteristics of individuals. In addition to the contribution by Gough, there were other research, which identified a direct and positive relationship between CPS and individual creativity.
However, recent research on employee creativity in an organizational context pursues an interactional approach. These studies take into account both the differences in employees’ personalities and the characteristics of work place environments in predicting and managing creativity. The reason for such consideration of work place characteristics is that although different employees possess different personality configurations, which influence the exhibiting of actual creative behaviors by the individual employees, the work place in some instances creates such strong situations, which do not allow the manifestation of the employees’ individual differences. For example, study by Zhou (2003) did not find any direct relationship between creative personalities and creativity of employees.
The researchers have shown a positive and interactive relationship among creative personalities, contextual factors and employee creativity. More specifically the creative personality scales when interacted with job complexity, supportive supervision and non-controlling supervision exhibited highest creativity. The employees scored high on CPS could work on complex jobs when they were received a supporting supervision in a non-controlling fashion. These findings of the researches were in conformity with the interactional approach to understanding employee creativity.
While these studies focused on the work related conditions that could help maximizing the creativity of individuals having creative personalities, Zhou (2003) studied the role of leaders in improving creativity in employees having less creative personalities. Results of her study show that there is a moderating effect of creative personality on the joint condition of supervisory close monitoring and the presence of coworkers having creative abilities. “More specifically employees with relatively less creative personalities exhibited greater creativity when they were surrounded by creative co-workers and their supervisors did not closely monitor them,” (Davila et al., 2007). Thus, individual creative personality scales and work environment conditions have a joint effect on the creative abilities of individual employees.
The works of many of the personality researchers have concurred on the use of Five-Factor Model of personality in capturing various configurations of individual differences in personality in a satisfactory way. “The five factors are conscientiousness, openness to experience, extraversion, neuroticism and agreeableness.” Based on a conceptual consideration, conscientiousness and openness to experience appear to be the most relevant factors to improve creativity. George and Zhou (2001) studied the relationship between conscientiousness and openness to experiences and creativity. This study covered a sample of ordinary employees whose job characteristics did not explicitly require creativity.
The findings of the study did not show any direct relationship between conscientiousness and openness to experience and employee creativity. On the other hand, these two factors were found to interact with contextual or environmental factors to influence employee creativity. More particularly conscientiousness was having a close association with low levels of creativity, in the circumstances when the supervisors engaged in close monitoring and the workers had to perform in an unsupportive co-worker environment.
In addition, the study found that employees having high level of openness to experiences could exhibit greater level of creativity, especially when they were provided with positive feedback and worked on tasks which were having unclear ends or means and which provided them with the opportunity of exploring innovative and better ways of performing in their works. These findings lead to the conclusion that leaders take the interactional approach I the area of managing the creativity among the employees.
Self-efficacy is another important factor, which affect the employee creativity. There are wide differences in the creative self-efficacy of the workers implying that employees may differ in the degree to which they consider themselves creative in their work. According to Tierney and Farmer (2002), employees with high levels of creative self-efficacy are able to exhibit greater level of creativity in the workplace. “In addition, these researchers found that job tenure, job self-efficacy, supervisor behavior and job complexity contributed to employees’ creative efficacy beliefs” (Davila et al., 2007).
Work Environment for Organizational Creativity
Contextual theories associated with organizational creativity focus on the analysis of different dimensions of work environments, which are associated with the concepts of intrinsic motivation and creativity. Teresa Amabile has developed the componential model of creativity, which is one of the most prominent theories of organizational creativity. This theory postulates three broad organizational elements, which are most likely to influence employee creativity within the organization.
These elements are (i) the motivation provided by the organization to the employees to innovate, (ii) the available organizational resources and (iii) the prevailing management practices within the organization. The following are some of the work environment factors, which are hypothesized to have large influence on the employee creativity. These additional factors provide a detailed and more specific articulation and detailing of the componential theory of organizational creativity.
- “encouragement of creativity including organizational encouragement such as reward and recognition of creativity, supervisory encouragement and work group supports,
- autonomy and freedom – granting employees high autonomy and a sense of ownership and control over their work,
- pressures including challenging work and workload pressure and
- organizational impediments such as rigid, formal management structures or conservatism” (Grabner, 2007).
The creative behavior of the employees is largely influence by the psychological meaning of the environmental events. Therefore, the employee perceptions of the work environment, which influence the employee creativity rather than the organizational reality.
Creativity and Innovation
Creativity and innovation are constructs, which are closely related and there is significant overlapping in their respective characteristics. In essence, creativity is the process of creating innovative and practical initiatives, which happen at the individual level. Innovation on the other hand is the process by which the ideas are “captured, filtered, developed, modified, clarified and eventually commercialized and/or implemented.” Creativity is the phenomenon that fuels the innovation pipeline.
“In order for an organization to remain relevant and to compete in pursuit of its mission, management of organizations must pay attention to both ends of the process, generating creative ideas frequently and utilizing its innovation process to realize the potential value of those ideas” (McLean, 2005)
Individual employees are the vital source of new ideas and provide the foundation for organizational innovation (Shalley and Gilson, 2004). Hence, considering from a theoretical angle, the creative capabilities of employees serve the raw material needed for organizational innovation (Oldham and Cummings, 1996). Creative employees are the people who are likely to identify opportunities for new products. The employees may find alternative uses for the current methods or equipments available with the organization.
They may also generate novel but operable ideas for work-related situations. The employees have the ability to generate creative solutions to business problems and provide ideas to others and at the same time, they can develop adequate plans for the implementation of new and innovative ideas. Shalley and Gilson (2004) point out employees who are creative would be able to suggest new and useful ideas concerning organizational products, processes and procedures. In addition, these creative employees may serve as role models to other employees in the organization.
Shalley et al (2004) are of the opinion that the new ideas generated by the creative employees can be transferred to other employees of the organization for their own use and implementation. “Consequently, such creativity at the individual level, through idea generation and implementation, is likely to lead to the development of innovative products at the organizational level” (Gumusluoglu & Ilsev, 2007). Therefore, it can be hypothesized that creativity of employees has a positive influence on organizational innovative capabilities.
Creativity is given a wide array of varied theoretical definitions. According to Tomas (1999), creativity denotes the capability to generate original ideas. However, Shalley and Perry-Smith (2001) argue that in addition to originality, appropriateness is also essential element to distinguish between creative and surreal ideas, which may have unique but unlawful or greatly unrealistic implications. Shneiderman (2000) observes that a restricted definition of creativity focuses exclusively on rare revolutionary ideas which are paradigm shifting in nature.
On the other hand, a looser definition encompasses useful and evolutionary contributions. These ideas apply to existing paradigms. Shneiderman (2000) has offered three major perspectives of creativity – inspirationalist, structuralist and situationalist. It is a concept of remarkable step forward and instinctive elements of imaginative idea creation that characterize inspirationalist perspective of creativity. In the structuralistic perspective of creativity, reference to preceding ideas and practical systems capable of exploring potential ways out are emphasized. A societal background is the major element in imaginative idea creation method in the case of situationalist view.
Maraks (91999) embarked on a classification of various theories, which recognize psychoanalytical, behavioral and process orientation perspectives of the concept of creativity.
The concept of innovation is generally intertwined with the concept of creativity and both terms are used with little distinction. Both creativity and innovation are regarded as mere processes through which knowledge is developed and converted into business processes enhancing value of the business (Gurteen, 1998). A comprehensive description of imagination depicts it to be the creation and surfacing of novel ideas. Creativity is thoughts for generating new ideas facilitated by deviating and lateral thinking. Innovation on the other hand is converting ideas in to products, services and effective processes aiding production (Cougar, 1995). Innovation is the process of refining the ideas generated by creativity and converting them later into effective solutions. “Innovation requires convergent thought in applying new concepts to certain problems and situation. Practically, the term innovation represents creativity in action.”
Gallouj (1998) is of the opinion that the major aspects of innovation proposed by the noted economist Joseph Schumpeter at the start of this century may be considered as the best framework for defining the concept of innovation. Johannessen et al (2001) later refined the work of Schumpeter and introduced six means of innovation. “They are new products, new services, new methods of production, new market openings, new sources of supply and new
ways of organization,” (Handzic & Chaimungkalamont, 2004). Out of these six means, the last four are relevant for the current research. These four means can be considered as part of strategic innovation and creativity.
Creativity and Organizational Performance
Nonaka et al (2000) observe that creating new ideas is instrumental for the survival of many organizations in the context of changing business environment. Within this broad outline, creativity and innovation replace other traditional means of improving organizational performance. Creativity and innovation act as the leverage of organizational performance. The link between creativity, innovation and organizational performance appears to be intuitive. However, there are some researchers, who do not accept the connection between the concepts.
For example, Diehl and Stroebe (1991) in their study observed significant loss of productivity in the idea-generating groups. While Osborn (1957) suggested brainstorming to result in doubling the quantum of ideas generated, Bossink (2002) found brainstorming detrimental to the overall level of innovation. These conflicting evidences need to be considered while evaluating the value of creativity. Nakamura (2000) is of the opinion that creativity does not possess the character of an unconditionally desirable element in the organizational processes. He cites the reason that creativity may expose the current production process and designs to additional risks. There are other inherent risks associated with implementing innovative ideas. Therefore, while creativity is considered as useful and positive for modern organizations, the idea also remains disputed by many researchers and practitioners.
Impact of Organizational Culture on Creativity
Several scholars were of the opinion that the existing culture of an organization will can either promote or inhibit the creativity of the employees. The creativity is affected by the values and norms of behavior comprised in the organizational culture (Shalley et al., 2004). Norms and values, which have the effect of emphasizing things like tradition, observance of rules, subordinating to authority and stability have been identified to inhibit the creativity of the employees. On the other hand, norms and values, which promote novelty, equality of members, openness and flexibility have the effect of aiding creativity among the employees. The powerful signals that are sent by norms and values indicating that it is safe for employees to undertake risky, exploratory and failure-prone activities, which are part of creative performance tend to promote creativity (Amabile et al. 1996).
Modernity and traditionality have been found to important explanations for organizational cultures. They also appear to be particularly useful in understanding the ways in which dramatic social, political and economic transformations of China have influenced its social institutions and work organizations (Leong and Chang, 2003). According to Zhang et al. (2003), modernity provides an optimistic orientation towards the future. This enhances the preference for advancement and improvement and creates a willingness to engage the employees in strong activities to ensure progress.
When organizations emphasize the concepts of modernity, such emphasis tend to result in progressive thinking of the employees leading to open discussions of organizational issues and opportunities available. It also encourages the employees to challenge the conventional ways of performing within the organization (Yang, 1998). Such organizations provide the opportunity to generate new ideas to all individuals working for the organization and not just the people in positions of power.
“This openness and progressive thinking may send powerful signals that change is good, that the risks of creativity are expected and accepted and that employees’ efforts to be creative will be supported and encouraged,” (Hon et al.2006). When the organizations adopt modern thinking, it leads to the minimization of potential risks associated with creativity. This is because with the modern thinking the failures and risks associated with creative activities are anticipated and accepted to be a part of the process of innovation (West et al. 2004). Employees trained in this culture can be expected to take initiative and employ different approaches to perform their functions. The employees also expect positive results out of change-oriented efforts (Shalley et al.2004).
Social Psychology of Creativity
The “social psychology of creativity” provides the basic assumptions concerning the individual creativity of employees in an organization. The theory of social psychology of creativity explains the interaction between social and environmental factors and the personality characteristics of and cognitive abilities of employees. The theory also explains the impact of these factors on observable creativity. This theory assumes that there is the requirement of three major components that are essential for the generation of creative ideas by the employees in an organization.
They are (i) employees to possess domain-relevant skills, (ii) creativity-relevant skills and (iii) intrinsic task motivation. According to Amabile, the most important component of the model is task motivation. “Task motivation makes the difference of what an individual can do and what he or she will do” (Amabile, 1983). If intrinsic motivation is present in an employee, it can be making up for any deficiencies in domain-relevant skills or for the deficiencies in creativity-relevant skills. Therefore, for employee creativity there is the need for a high level of intrinsic motivation.
Transformational Leadership and Individual Creativity
Transformational or visionary, or charismatic leadership has been the subject of study during the last thirty years (Bass, 1985, 1998; Burns, 1978; Conger & Kanungo, 1987; House, 1977). Bass (1990) suggested “transformational leadership occurs when leaders broaden and elevate the interests of their employees, when they generate awareness and acceptance of the purposes and mission of the group, and when they stir their employees to look beyond their own self-interest for the good of the group”. Bass (1985) characterized the transformational leader as one who has the capability of transforming the personal values of his followers in such a way that the followers consider the goals of the organization as their personal goals and support them.
The transformational leader is able to achieve “by fostering an environment where relationships can be formed and by establishing a climate of trust in which visions can be shared” (Bass 1985, p 223). Having added a new dimension to the leadership studies in the organizational context, transformational leadership is observed to ensemble the emotional involvement of employees within the firm (House, 1977). The basic conceptualization in transformational leadership is based on the perceived competence and ability of the leader and his/her vision to achieve success. Subordinates are hired based on their ability to share the vision of the leader and are expected to exhibit high level of enthusiasm and commitment to the visionary leadership objectives.
Avery (2004) found certain limitations with transformational leadership. According to Nadler & Tuschman (1990), the unrealistic expectations of the followers to result from the decisions and actions of the transformational leader may lead to disappointment among the followers, if things do not move in the desired direction. This style makes the subordinates depend entirely on the leader, as they believe that the leader has control over all the issues. This leadership styles curtails the initiatives for innovations, as the followers are reluctant to contradict the leader’s views.
Transformational leadership behaviors can be considered as one of the determinants of individual creativity at the work place. “Vision, support for innovation, autonomy, encouragement, recognition and challenge” which are some of the attributes of transformational leadership provide space for generation of creative ideas by the employees. Such behaviors of transformational leaders tend to act as “creativity enhancing forces”.
The individualized consideration of these leaders serves as a reward for the subordinates; as such, considerations provide encouragement and recognition. The transformational leaders act to induce intellectual simulation of the employees, which enhances exploratory thinking on the part of the followers. The support provided by transformational leaders for innovation, autonomy and challenge and the inspirational motivation provided by the leaders act as encouragement to the idea generating process of employees. The support energizes the followers to work towards the vision of the organization (Bass and Avalio, 1995). The supportive role of the transformational leaders leads to a high level of intrinsic motivation, which is an important source of creativity among the employees.
Transformational leaders are most likely to contribute to the development of self-efficacy among their followers. The high level of feeling of self-efficacy among the employees lead to higher creative performance and therefore transformational leaders can positively influence the creativity of their followers by contributing to increase their self-efficacy. Employees with increased self-efficacy are normally motivated to generate innovative ideas and solutions. Hunt et al (2004) observe that since transformational leaders are capable of building emotional attachment with his followers, such emotional tie might be one of the creativity enhancing forces. According to Hunt et al (2004), emotional attachment is likely to result in higher level of employee creativity. Because of their emotional ties with their transformational leader, employees are more likely to exhibit their support to the challenges of this leader. The employees show their attachment by their support for innovation by increased creativity in their jobs.
Organizational Support Factors for Employee Creativity
This section discusses the important organizational factors that support employee creativity.
The KEYS creativity scale developed by Amabile has identified several organizational encouragement factors such as “encouragement for risk-taking and idea generation, supportive evaluation of ideas, collaborative idea flow and participative management and decision making” (Amabile et al., 1996). The concepts developed by other scholars and practitioners in this area align closely with these encouragement factors. For example, Angle (1989) and Kanter (1983) support the idea of open communication flow across different groups in the organization as an effective enabler of creativity.
More particularly Kanter suggest the increased role of an integrative organizational structure set up as a matrix organization to promote open communication flow, which in turn is likely to improve creativity. “Organizational structures and a culture that supports or perhaps most appropriately does not punish this type of communication will be more likely to have more effective creativity and innovation,” (McLean, 2005).
It is true that the way in which the communication channels are encouraged or discourage in an organization can be a likely source of support or act as an impediment to employee creativity and innovation. According to Robbinson and Stern (1997), the invention of Scotchgard in 3M is an example of the ways in which opportunities for open communication flow might result in a major commercial success through innovation. The innovation was made possible by a work environment that provided encouragement to the employees to reach out and connect with other people who are likely to be benefited from the exchange of ideas.
Supervisory encouragement signifies a work environment where there is clarity of team goals and the supervisors support the work and ideas of teams. It also includes an environment where there is strong support for open interactions. Oldham and Cummings (1996) in their study found support for the hypothesis that non-controlling supervision has a positive relationship with creative performance of the employees. As far as the supervisory encouragement is concerned, the role of the supervisor is identified in clearly communicating the goals and setting the expectations for the ways in which the goals are to be accomplished. The supervisory encouragement also encompasses rewarding and recognizing the accomplishments and providing the necessary task support. Above all, it is the responsibility of the supervisors to create an environment, where risk taking is encouraged to ensure positive developments in creativity.
Work Group Encouragement
The concept of work group encouragement hinges on developing diversity among group members and in promoting constructive challenging among them (Amabile, et al 1996). There is enhanced creative performance when the organization allows diversity among work groups. Creativity is enhanced when people with dissimilar frames of reference are able to exchange ideas and when the organization has integrated creative personalities within the mainstream of the organization (Kanter, 1983). It is to be noted that these assertions have significant implications on the organizational culture and its impact on the employee creativity.
The organization, which has embedded these attributes, must possess a culture, which attaches a strong value and tolerates diversity of personalities within the organization. According to Feist (1999), personality traits such as “dominance, arrogance, hostility, self-confidence, autonomy, introversion and independence” influence the ability of an employee to be creative. However, these characteristics in some instances are likely to be against the organizational norms and therefore have the potential to lead to conflicting situations in the social construct of the work groups. Hence, it becomes important that these personality traits of employees be to be managed intentionally and carefully by the managers to derive maximum advantage to the organizational creativity.
Freedom and Autonomy
Freedom and autonomy to employees in the context of creativity implies granting freedom and autonomy to them for deciding on the means by which they could achieve an organizational goal (Amabile, 1998). The autonomy does not mean the freedom to select the goals that the employees want to achieve. Individuals who excel in their ability to generate creative ideas often consider independence and autonomy as important elements in enhancing their creative ability.
“An organizational culture that supports autonomy in achieving clearly communicated goals will likely be more successful in terms of creativity and innovation than an organization that does not. An environment of freedom and autonomy is more likely to tap into the intrinsic motivation of its employees, which has been a key factor in promoting creativity in organizations,” (McLean, 2005).
The development of inkjet printer at Hewlett-Packard (HP) is an example of autonomy given to the employees in following their ideas on the development of an innovative product (Robbinson and Stern, 1997). “Their excitement in pursuing their ideas was not encumbered by overly involved supervisors or organizational bureaucracy and their intrinsic motivation and curiosity, coupled with their ability to tap into expertise both inside and outside the company contributed to a fantastic commercial success,” (McLean, 2005).
The literature on creativity addresses both time and money as the resources required for encouraging creativity. If the employees are not given sufficient time for generating new ideas, it can lead to distrust and burnout (Amabile, 1998). On the other hand, if the employees are given too much time, it can affect the sense of challenge and it will act to reduce the degree of creative performance. When it comes to the question of money, the employees must be provided with sufficient money so that the employees need not apply their energy and focus on finding the necessary resources. However, providing resources over and above the requirements does not necessarily lead to a boost in the creativity.
Organizational Impediments to Creativity and Innovation
Literature has identified control as one of the major factors that act as an impediment to creative performance by the employees (Oldham and Cummings, 1996). The control may be in respect o any activity such as control in decision-making or control of information flow. Control may also be a perceived control in the form of complicated reward systems, which applies increased emphasis on increasing intrinsic motivation. This in turn affects the employee creativity. An organizational culture that provides support and encouragement to control will lead to deterioration in creativity and innovation.
The main reason for this result is that control negatively influences intrinsic motivation of the employees. Amabile (1988) is of the opinion that for producing highly creative behavior, it is important that intrinsic motivation stimulate gaining of expertise and creative skills by the employees. However, the notion that control impedes organizational creativity has not been accepted as a straight premise. Kimberly (1981) observed that in stable and predictable work environments, some degree of formalization and centralization of decision-making has worked to enhance the ability of the organization to implement innovations.
Thus, several characteristics of organizational culture as they relate to supports of or impediments to employee creativity have been identified by the literature. The supporting factors include organizational encouragement, supervisory encouragement, freedom, autonomy, and resources. Control is one of the major dimensions of organizational culture, which is identified to impede creativity and innovation. It appears that organizational cultural dimensions that support creativity also support innovation. The existing literature that explores the relationship between the dimensions of organizational culture and creativity and innovation appear to be limited in number. Only few researchers have focused on this area and there are many other big research questions, which need further investigation and research.
The objective of this chapter is to describe the methodology adopted for meeting the aims and objectives of this study. “In the discussion of the selection of a problem suggests valuable criteria:
- novelty of the problem,
- investigator’s interest in the problem,
- practical value of the research to the investigator,
- worker’s special qualification,
- availability of the data,
- cost of investigation, and
- time required for the investigation,”(Watkins (1994) quoted by Reyes, (2004); Burn and Grove, (2005).
While considering all these aspects one of the most important issue in conducting the social research is to find a way of getting the focus on the different aspects like the problem statement, conceptualizing the theory and choosing the research design. “Focus provides the integration of seeming diversity of the elements of the process from the presentation of the problem to the scope of research, conceptual framework, related literature, instrumentation, appropriate statistical methods to be used as well as the design and methodology used,” (Reyes, 2004, p 3).
Denzin and Lincoln (1998) state the researcher is independent to engage any research approach, so long as the method engaged enables him to complete the research and achieve its objectives. However, it is essential that the researcher consider the nature of the research inquiry and the variables that have an impact on the research process. The researcher has to evaluate the appropriateness of the methodology as to its ability to find plausible answers to the research questions within the broad context of the nature and scope of the research issue.
For the current research on assessment of gaps and root causes for lack of creativity at AlKifah Batching Plant Factory, considering the research issue under study, a mixed research method of qualitative and quantitative approaches is adopted. This chapter presents a description of the research method and discusses the salience, merits and demerits of the method adopted. The justification of the research method also forms part of the chapter.
The research desing encompasses different elements involved in the research methodology, in which the process specifies the limits of the research. These boundaries take the form of the research philosophy and approach. The research strategy including the research techniques and data collection methods also are the components of the research process. Within the boundaries of the research process, the time spheres for completing the study are also included.
The format for further investigation can be decided by defining the research problem clearly. When the research problem is well defined, it will automatically point towards the appropriate method of investigation. However, there can be no single research method that can be used for all research issues. There are a number of research techniques, which are available to the choice of the researcher.
Often the researcher has to make many trade-offs, in the process of selection of a suitable research technique. For example, the researcher has to compromise in the quality of information, if he has to consider the cost of data collection and analysis. In some other cases, time constraint may be the prominent force driving the researcher to choose a particular research technique. Therefore, the design of a research process is always influenced by both budget and time factors in arriving at the research technique. The research design may be categorized into descriptive or causal. The purpose of causal studies is to find the effect of one variable on another.
Quantitative research considers numeric values. Under this method, the study makes use of different statistical analytical methods and processes to achieve the research objectives. Quantitative method is based on empirical data collected for carrying out the research. There are different research tools including survey for collecting primary empirical data for the purposes of quantitative research. Burns & Grove (1993) state quantitative research is “a formal, objective, systematic process in which numerical data is utilized to obtain information about the research question.” Objectivity and reliability embedded in quantitative research makes the researcher feel comfortable and therefore this method becomes a preferred research method. Same findings will result from the study, even when, the same research is conducted by different researchers. Quantitative research has the capability to produce the findings in the form of quantifiable and reliable data, which is a unique strength of this method (Trochim, 2001).
Being one of the principal methods in conducting researches in the realm of social science the qualitative method involves examining the viewpoints, outlooks and experiences of the individuals taking part in a research from the points of view of the informants. As against the quantitative research method, the qualitative research method does not make use of quantitative data and statistical analyses. Logical deductions to infer information concerning the human element forms the basis of qualitative method. A major criticism against qualitative method is that it always has a smaller sample size, which makes generalization difficult.
The qualitative method makes use of data collection and analysis methods, which do not involve collection of quantitative information (Lofland & Lofland, 1984). Qualitative research method has been identified to focus on “quality” instead of “quantity” of information. Some of the researchers are of the opinion that qualitative method uses a subjective methodology and makes the researcher to substitute as the major research instrument (Adler and Adler, 1987). There is abundance of past literature on the qualitative research methods. Qualitative research method is also referred to as a ‘naturalistic’ research (Bogdan and Biklen (1982); Lincoln and Guba (1985); Patton (1990); Eisner (1991). These researchers have identified several distinguishing features of the qualitative research method.
Deductive and inductive approaches are the usual research approaches that are used in social science researches. According to Saunders et al. (2003), deductive technique requires the researcher to formulate different hypotheses and engage a research strategy to prove or disprove the hypotheses. Deductive approach starts with the formation of a general idea on the research issue. Based on the idea generated the researcher forms hypotheses, which can be tested using appropriate research techniques and tools to support the general idea generated. If the hypotheses are supported, it implies that the initial idea generated about the research issue is correct. A social research often uses the deductive approach rather than the inductive approach.
In the inductive approach, the researcher starts the process with data collection and once the data is collected, he develops a theory based on the analysis of the data collected earlier. Creswell (1994) observes that the inductive approach investigates research topics, which are relatively noticeable and exciting as well as contentious.
Saunders et al. (2003) identify the goal of inductive approach is to get a better understanding of meaning attached by human beings to events. Inductive approach also provides an in-depth knowledge of the research context. Inductive approach also comprises of the process of data collection for a qualitative study. When the researcher uses inductive approach, there is the likelihood that the researcher can change the research emphasis as the approach encompasses flexible formation that facilitates changes. However, the major concern about inductive approach is that the approach does not possess the requirement of generalization. This study uses a deductive research approach, since different objectives have been proposed to be achieved prior to engaging a research strategy.
Primary and Secondary Research
Any research can be conducted using data collected from two sources – primary and secondary. The primary data represents data collected for specific use employing different research tools. Secondary data is collected from existing sources, where someone else collects the data for a different purpose (Proctor, 2005). The current study will collect primary data based on the responses for the survey questionnaire posted to the samples. Secondary sources comprise of information and data collected from prior research studies on the research topic, professional journals, and other data sources available on Internet. The secondary data will enable the researcher to collect volume of theoretical information on the research topic.
According to Marshall and Rossman (1995), the qualitative research is based on collection of data from different sources and the data already collected forms the basis for reporting the findings of the study and making recommendations. Yin (1984) identified different sources like “archival records, direct observations, interviews, and observation of the participants,” which can be used in conducting qualitative research. Quantitative research uses tools like surveys for data collection.
The data collection methods for the current research include e-mail survey, information retrieval from archival records, and other documents for completing the research. The quality of data collected determines the validity and reliability of the research findings. Thus, “qualitative modes of data analysis provide ways of discerning, examining, comparing and contrasting, and interpreting meaningful patterns or themes. Meaningfulness is determined by the particular goals and objectives of the project at hand.” (Boojihawon, 2006)
Scott and Usher, (2000) point out that most of the surveys commonly follow positivist epistemology as the research philosophy. The current study uses survey as the research instrument to collect primary data from the target samples. The survey uses an electronic questionnaire for data collection. The questionnaire as the research instrument is the conduit for primary data collection. The electronic survey provides a convenience in approaching the samples and in collecting their viewpoints on the research inquiry.
According to Cohen and Manion (1980), “Surveys gather data at a particular point in time with the intention of (a) describing the nature of existing conditions; or (b) identifying standards against which existing conditions can be compared; or (c) determining the relationship that exists between specific events.”
Surveys are considered as the most popular method of primary data collection from knowledgeable sources of data. Denscombe (1998) states a survey is undertaken “to get a detailed and comprehensive view about the data obtained, which will be used for mapping”. Denscombe (1998) has identified three salient features of survey method.
- Broad and comprehensive coverage
- Data relating to particular point of time when the research is conducted
- Facilitates experimental research
Survey method has become popular because the method is able to express the finding in the form of quantitative or numeric descriptions based on information retrieved from some fraction of the population representing the sample, by the use of simple questions (Creswell, 1994). Surveys enable generalisation of the findings of the surveys, as there is an opportunity for a large population to take part in surveys. The principal method of data collection for the survey was by a mail questionnaire. The following section discusses the steps and processes involved in constructing and testing the questionnaire, sample selection, data collection and the statistical methods used in this study.
Construction of the Research Instrument
The primary data collection for the current research is undertaken through the distribution of a self-administered questionnaire to the selected samples. Questionnaire represents a document, which comprises of questions designed to retrieve information from the samples suitable for further analysis and reporting. The construction of the questionnaire involved drawing on the previous researches in the area of turnaround strategies and the role of management accounting in the strategies to discover different aspects that are applicable to the current study.
Questionnaires form the instrument of choice and part of their research designs for many scholars and academics belonging to different disciplines (Creswell, 1994). Questionnaires are considered as the most fitting research tool to collect systematic and comparable information from a large population and so that the information collected can be analyzed economically (De Witte and van Muijen, 1999).
Once the exploratory studies were completed, the researcher was able to identify some basic variables such as factors affecting employee creativity, work environment and intrinsic motivation factors to design the questionnaire for the survey under the study.
Study Population and Sampling Procedure
The researcher has the obligation to specify the aimed people clearly. Even though there are no define tenets for sample selection, the researcher has to depend on his reasoning ability and decision-making ability. Target sample has to be specified bearing in mind the goals of the research. In cases where the total group to be studied is little, the researcher can consider including the total group to be covered in the research.
When the population to be studied is too large, the researcher can carefully make a selection of samples, which will represent the entire population. The sample should be chosen in a way that it represent the characteristics of the population from which the sample was selected. Samples may be selected using probability or non-probability sampling methods. In probability sampling, each element in the group has the chance of being chosen as samples. For the current study, the samples were selected using random sampling under probability sampling.
This chapter presented the research design and sampling procedure. The data collection procedures is also explained by the chapter. The suitability of the research method is also explained.
Data Analysis and Results
With the objective of assessing the gaps and root causes for lack of creativity among the employees of AlKifah Factory, a quantitative survey was undertaken using the survey instruments of a questionnaire (See Appendix I). The questionnaire contained general questions to collect the demographic information of the chosen samples and questions on creativity in the organization, on personal background related to creativity and management and factors affecting creativity within the organization.
Totally 35 samples from different departments were selected and the respondents were briefed on the purpose of the research. The questionnaires were handed over in person after explaining the purpose of each question. The researcher also asked additional questions to some of the employees in the different departments to collect the complete information on the gaps in creativity. The questionnaire evoked responses on various facets of creativity within the AlKifah Factory. The findings of the study are presented in this chapter.
The following table presents the information on the demographic structure of the respondents.
Table 4.1 Demographic Information of the Respondents.
|Above 41 years||2||5.8%|
|Length of Experience with AlKifah Factory||Number||Percentage|
|Less than one year||2||5.7%|
|Between one and Three years||19||54.3%|
|Between Three and Five years||11||31.4%|
|Above Five years||3||8.6%|
|Position in the Company||Number||Percent|
|Front Line/Production Staff||12||34.3%|
Findings on Creativity and Innovation
For the question on the awareness of creativity and innovation within AlKifah factory, 69 percent of the respondents confirmed that they were aware of creativity and innovation and 31 percent of the people were not having much knowledge on creativity within an organization.
Wherever the respondents have been asked to rank their opinions, the responses were awarded weights based on the importance attached and the mean values arrived for evaluating the findings. The following is findings on the perceptions of the sample population on the organizational climate with respect encouraging creativity and innovation and the findings are represented by their respective mean values.
Table 4.2 Organizational Factors affecting Employee Creativity.
|Needs training in creativity and innovation issues||4.66|
|Needs to improve the general competence level of the employees||4.37|
|Supports employees to take risks||1.49|
|Allows all employees to share their creative potential||1.46|
|Does not penalize them on failures while adopting new methods||1.43|
|Uses sufficient amount of resources on training||1.29|
|Works on a traditional basis||1.06|
The respondents were asked to indicate the extent to which different approaches mentioned in the questionnaire are followed in the decision-making process within the organization. The following are the responses received from the employees and are tabulated based on the mean values of the weights attached to the individual variables.
Table 4.3 Management Approaches to Decision-making.
|Top-down approach (Traditional approach)||4.91|
|Individual creativity and innovation||1.63|
|Team creativity and innovation||1.46|
|Bottom-up approach (Taking employees’ suggestions)||1.37|
|Use of expert advice from consultants||1.11|
The objective of the next question was to find out the extent to which the employees and managers at various levels in AlKifah factory attribute importance to creativity. The respondents were asked to rank the importance given to creativity by the organizational members at various levels. The responses to this question will find the level at which there is weakness in the organization to encourage creativity. When the senior management does not attach much importance to individual creativity of the employees, they will not be motivated to offer any new ideas to improve the working of the organization. Normally the initiative for employee creativity should emanate from the organizational climate. The responses for this question are presented below arranging them in the order of importance in the opinion of the respondents.
Table 4.4 Views towards Creativity.
|Middle management views creativity||3.97|
|Senior management views creativity||2.03|
|General staff/operatives view creativity||1.49|
|Clerical/Admin staff view creativity||1.37|
The survey sought to get the opinion of the respondents on the department/unit that should play a crucial role in the success of individual creativity of the employees. The following figure presents the responses received from the samples.
On the question of the influence of different organizational factors encouraging employee creativity, the employees chosen from the AlKifah factory responded to indicate the following observations.
Table 4.5 Organizational Factors influencing Employee Creativity.
|Management Policy of the Company||4.29|
|Effective Internal Communication||4.26|
|Cultural background of the employee||4.03|
|Personality of the employee||3.60|
The questionnaire offered various suggested elements as being associated with employee creativity and asked the respondents to rank them in accordance with their opinion. The following table presents the mean value of the findings.
Table 4.6 Factors associated with Employee Creativity.
|Improved organizational efficiency||4.37|
|Increasing Organizational Profitability||4.14|
|Facilitating market consolidation||4.14|
|Improving the employee image||4.11|
|Idea sharing and idea support||3.29|
For the question about the information on the training programs conducted within the
organization, 47% of the people confirmed that the training programs are sufficient. The pictorial representation of replies to this question is appended below.
The employees of AlKifah Factory participating in the survey were asked to indicate the purpose of training programs undertaken by the company. The questionnaire listed various options as the purpose for which training programs might be conducted in the organization including employee career development and creativity purposes. The following figure represents the responses of the samples on the purpose of the training programs.
The next question in the questionnaire was pertaining to the reward system existing in the company for recognizing the contribution from the employees in the form of intelligent solutions signifying the creativity of the employees. The findings are:
The final question was presented to the samples to find out their opinion on the support provided by the senior management to creativity initiatives of the employees of AlKifah Factory. The following figure represents the responses received from the samples.
This chapter presented the findings of the quantitative survey conducted among the chosen employees of AlKifah Factory about the encouragement for employee creativity provided within the organization. The next chapter presents a detailed discussion on the findings and a comparison with the theoretical aspects dealt with in the earlier chapter.
This chapter presented the findings of the research and a discussion on the findings is presented in the next chapter.
The objective of the study was to assess the gaps and root causes for lack of creativity among the employees of AlKifah Factory engaged in the manufacturing of heavy equipments in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. In order to collect primary data and information on the perceptions of the employees of the company on individual creativity and the support of the management to the employee creativity, a questionnaire containing pertinent questions on different aspects of creativity was presented to chosen employees of the company. The previous chapter presented the findings from the survey. The purpose of this chapter is to present a discussion on the findings of the survey and their relevance to the encouragement of creativity in the company. This discussion will lead to the identification of the potential causes for lack of creativity among the employees of AlKifah Factory.
Profile of the Respondents
From the demographic information collected, it is observed that more than 50 percent of the employee respondents belong to the age group of 26-35 years and 20% of them are in the age group of 18-25 years. Since the employees are in the lower age groups, it can be expected that they can contribute innovative ideas for the improvement in the organizational efficiency. When the organization is able to create an organizational climate that encourages creativity among the employees, the employees in the younger age groups can be expected to provide novel ideas for improving the processes and procedures within the company.
It is important that these employees are motivated to offer their best performance. The study thus finds the age group of the employees is conducive for providing the necessary encouragement to creativity. The next demographic factor under consideration is the educational background of the employees. From the educational qualifications of the samples, it can be observed that a majority of the employees have the necessary educational qualifications to understand the need for creativity in an organization.
The only thing that needs to be provided is the motivation and encouragement for making them think about ways of improving their own performance and suggest ways of functioning better by other departments so that overall organizational efficiency can be improved. Almost 86% of the employees have spent between one and five years with the company. This would have enabled the employees to understand the organizational culture and the expectations of the management with respect to creativity and innovation.
Employees who work for more time with an organization will be in a better position to understand the organizational systems and procedures and suggest improvements wherever they find some lacking. This is true in the case of the employees of AlKifah Factory. During his informal chat with some of the employees, the researcher was able to observe that the employees have excellent knowledge on the ways to remove the bottlenecks in production and they could acquire this knowledge from their experience with the company. Such experience can be used for drawing many new and useful creative ideas from employees who have stayed longer with the company.
The respondents have been chosen in such a way that a majority of them represent the frontline/production staff and clerical and other administrative staff including those working in the stores department. The objective of such a sampling selection was to gather the perceptions of the employees working at different levels, about the support for creativity in the company. Samples from supervisory, junior and senior management also were selected to make the sample population homogenous. The composition of the respondents to the survey is balanced properly to represent and bring out the viewpoints from the employees at all levels. The present representation in samples by different groups of employees has enhanced the validity of the findings of the survey.
Creativity and Innovation
The fact that 69% of the samples confirmed that they are aware of employee creativity and innovation confirms that there is good scope for encouraging the employees to work towards improving their creativity skills and offer new ideas in production and other functional areas for improving the efficiency. From the theoretical discussions, forming earlier part of this paper it is learnt that employee creativity is a complex behavior, which is subjected to the influence of both personal and contextual factors, as advocated by researchers Amabile, (1996) and Shalley et al. (2004).
Prior research confirms that work environment characteristics are the contextual factors that influence the employee activity and behavior and consequently the employee creativity. Job characteristics, work settings, worker-supervisor relationships and relationships among workers themselves are some of the examples of work environment characteristics. The findings of the current survey also confirms the findings, when the respondents indicate that the AlKifah Factory works on a traditional basis and does not support employees to take risks. The findings indicate that the root causes for the lack of creativity among the employees of AlKifah is the lack on the part of the organization to allow the employees to share their creative potential.
The survey also finds that there is the need for training the employees to be creative and innovative and to improve the general competence level of the employees. It appears that the company does not use sufficient amount of resources in training the employees, which is an essential prerequisite for improving the creativity of the employees. The findings of the survey indicate that the employees of AlKifah factory are hesitant in applying their minds to be creative, as the factory appears to penalize the employees for any mistakes that might occur, when the employee tries to use any new method. This would make the employee stick to the old and traditional ways of doing things without any improvement.
The company appears to follow a top-down approach in decision-making process. This implies that the top managers of the company follow an autocratic leadership style instead of a transformational leadership style. Earlier we observed that according to Hunt et al (2004), emotional attachment is likely to result in higher level of employee creativity. Because of their emotional ties with their transformational leader, employees are more likely to exhibit their support to the challenges of this leader. The employees show their attachment by their support for innovation by increased creativity in their jobs. When the senior managers do not follow a transformational leadership style, they cannot expect emotional ties from the subordinates and the consequent creative contributions.
The fact that a majority of the employees are expatriates also needs to be considered in this context. In a way, the expatriate employees may not take bold steps to improve the traditional ways of functioning, in the fear of losing their jobs, if they commit some mistakes in the process of introducing some new ideas. From the findings of the survey, it can be observed that the company does not appear to encourage team creativity and innovation or creativity at the individual employee level. The findings correspond with the finding of Ginzburg et al (2007).
The authors were of the opinion that combining both a bottom-up approach of collecting creative ideas from the employees and a top-down approach of providing guidance on the creativity would facilitate organizational creativity and innovation. Therefore, the company AlKifah should make it a point that it encourages and empowers employees to take part in the decision-making process so that the employees will be more creative in their approach. The company does not appear to engage external consultants to educate the employees on changing the existing systems of work. When there is expert advice from the consultants, the employees will be encouraged to offer their own solutions to improve the processes and systems.
One of the findings of the survey is that only middle management in the AlKifah Company looks at the individual creativity of the employees more favorably. It seems that both the senior managers and the lower level employees do not attach much importance to employee creativity. This is a serious gap, which needs to be addressed. Shalley and Gilson (2004) observed that individual employees are the vital source of new ideas and provide the foundation for organizational innovation and the creative capabilities of employees serve the raw material needed for organizational innovation (Oldham and Cummings, 1996). Creative employees are the people who are likely to identify opportunities for new products. When they do not look at creativity more importantly, the organization cannot expect any drastic improvement in the efficiency of its functioning. It is for the senior managers also to take the employee creativity seriously and provide a conducive organizational climate to encourage the employees at all levels to offer new and innovative ideas.
The employees seem to be divided in their opinion on the department/unit that should take a crucial role in implementing creativity initiatives. However, a majority of them identified that all employees share the responsibility to bring in new and useful creative ideas, while 23% of the employees surveyed are of the opinion that a HRD unit must be made responsible for promoting creativity among the employees. In a way, it is the responsibility of the HRD to identify the training needs for improving the creative skills of the employees. Nevertheless, a HRD unit cannot promote creativity in production-oriented systems. Therefore, the organizational culture should provide the freedom to employees at all levels to be creative and suggest newer ways of doing things to improve the overall organizational efficiency.
Factors Influencing Creativity
Amabile et al (1996) have identified several factors related to the management policies of the company to influence the employee creativity in an organization. For example, the study found out collaborative idea flows and participative management in decision-making are some of the aspects that would promote creativity among the employees. The findings of the current study also indicate that management policy of the company as the most important factor, which influences the creativity among the employees. Another root cause for the lack in the creativity of the employees of AlKifah is the change needed in the management policies of the company.
The current study also points out that effective internal communication is the next major factor that would encourage creativity among the employees. This finding is also in conformity with the findings of earlier research. The concepts developed by other scholars and practitioners in this area align closely with the encouragement factor of open communication. For example, Angle (1989) and Kanter (1983) support the idea of open communication flow across different groups in the organization as an effective enabler of creativity. The theoretical part of this study observed that Kanter (1983) suggested the increased role of an integrative organizational structure set up as a matrix organization to promote open communication flow, which in turn is likely to improve creativity.
McLean (2005) is of the opinion that organizational structures and a culture that supports or perhaps most appropriately does not punish this type of communication will be more likely to have more effective creativity and innovation. This is particularly true in the case of AlKifah factory. It is true that the way in which the communication channels are encouraged or discourage in an organization can be a likely source of support or act as an impediment to employee creativity and innovation. Especially in the case of AlKifah, the lack in openness of communication is a serious gap, which impedes the creative capabilities of the employees.
There are various other elements, which have a close association with employee creativity. By improving creativity and implementing innovative ideas in the functioning of the organization, it is possible to have an improvement in another corresponding attribute or variable. The current study has identified a close association between improvement in employee creativity and organizational efficiency.
The respondents have indicated that the profitability of the organization is also likely to be improved when the employees are able to contribute new and innovative ideas. This finding corresponds to several earlier findings of research conducted in the area of employee creativity. For example, Johannessen et al (2001) found that (i) new products, (ii) new services, (iii) new methods of production, (iv) new market openings, (v) new sources of supply and (vi) new ways of organization are the means of innovation and these have the capabilities to improve the working of the organization and improve its profitability.
Training Programs and Reward Systems
A majority of the respondents to the survey has indicated that there is insufficiency of training programs within AlKifah Factory and this has affected the creative capabilities of the employees. Even when training is provided to the employees, they mainly cover changes in work environment like computerization or general organizational issues. The training programs are not found to be useful in improving the creative skills of the employees of the company nor they are aimed to aim at the career development of the employees. The trainings are more routine in nature and are conducted in a classroom environment without an opportunity for free deliberations and hands on experience for the employees. The training courses mostly include HR and other administrative staff and they are not intended for frontline/production staff or supervisors.
Absence of extrinsic and intrinsic reward systems to motivate employees to be creative is one of the important root causes for lack of creativity among the employees of AlKifah Factory.
According to previous research, the organizational contextual factors generally affect employee creativity through the intervening influence of intrinsic motivation (Deci and Ryan, 1985). When the employees are not provided with any kind of motivation, it is difficult to expect them to become proactive and suggest newer ways of producing or doing other organizational functions efficiently. In the opinion of the researcher, the culture of the employees and the employer play a major role in creating this gap. The expatriate workers mostly are on contractual terms with no extra initiative to be creative.
The management also does not consider the need for motivating the employees to become creative. This has led to a serious gap resulting in lack of creativity among the employees. This position is evidenced by the reply for the final question on the questionnaire, which intends to find out the support from the senior management for creativity. The respondents have indicated “none” to “marginal” support for creativity from the senior managers. This implies that there is the need to educate the managers also on the need to encourage creativity among the employees of AlKifah.
This chapter contained a detailed discussion on the findings of the research. A summary of the findings is presented in the concluding chapter.
The objective of the current research was to study the factors that influence the creativity among the employees of an organization in general and to study the relationship between employee motivation and creativity and its impact on organizational performance. The study also extended to assess the gaps and root causes in AlKifah Factory for the lack of creativity among the employees of the company. Through a quantitative survey among the employees of the company, the current research found that there are several areas, where the company needs improvement to encourage employee creativity.
In general, the current research through a review of the prior literature identified, that creativity could be considered risky because it involves shifting the current ways of thinking about and doing things. By nature, creative ideas are novel and tend to deviate from conventional wisdom. Creative ideas depart from the status quo. The potential advantage of any creative idea is directly associated with the extent to which such idea deviate from the current ways of thinking and acting.
Contrastingly, people have a tendency to resist new ideas and they prefer to maintain the status quo. Employees in particular are sensitive to the uncertainties connected with the implementation of new ideas and they are afraid of the likely failures that accompany creative ideas. Therefore, there needs to be a complete change in the management view towards encouraging creativity and the senior managers has to adopt transformational leadership qualities, if they are keen on making their subordinates proactive and creative.
With respect to the case of AlKifah Factory, the study identified that there is little support from the senior managers for creativity among the employees. In addition, there is a serious gap in the communications between the management and the employees. Unless an effective open communication is present, the employees will not be encouraged to offer their ideas on improving the organizational systems. The employees are not encouraged to be creative and offer valuable and meaningful ideas and suggestions to the management, as there is no incentive for them to do so. The company does not appear to have any extrinsic or intrinsic reward system in place to encourage the employees.
There are no training programs aimed at improving the creative skills of the employees, except that there is routine training for improving the clerical and administrative skills of the employees. The frontline/production employees are not offered any training to become creative and innovative. The study finds the management policy of the company to have a serious impact on the creative abilities of the employees and the top-down approach followed by the management in the decision-making process does not allow autonomy or freedom to employees to experiment new ways of doing things.
Cultural background of the employees also comes in the way as an inhibition for them to open out and provide innovative solutions to the business problems. It is for the management to remove this cultural barrier and encourage the employees to become more creative. For this purpose, the senior managers have to implement an effective two-way communication channel, which encourages employees to inform the superiors about their ideas of doing things differently. Unless the senior managers view the employee creativity as an important factor in improving the organizational efficiency, they cannot expect the employees to offer suggestions for any improvement.
The study has identified serious gaps in training the employees of AlKifah Factory in creative and innovative ways of thinking and there is the need to increase the general competency level of the employees. The employee do not receive the support from the management for the risks that they need to undertake while trying to do things differently and it appears that the organization comes on heavily on those employees who adopt new methods. This would totally prohibit employees from being creative and innovative.
The company AlKifah Factory will be able to overcome the issues in the production, marketing, purchasing and stores functions, when the company is able to bring out the creativity in its employees. In order to make the employees suggest new and useful ways of doing things or changing the existing production systems and designs or to improve the purchasing or stores functions, the company must invite suggestions from the employees on the likely ways of improving these functional areas. The company may also announce some monetary incentives to those employees who offer best suggestions for improvement in the production system or purchasing function. Apart from the extrinsic motivational means like monetary incentives, the company must also think of intrinsic motivational means like announcing the best employee of the week or fortnight based on the suggestions made by them for effecting improvements in production processes or in any other functional areas like purchasing.
Before the employees could be encouraged to be creative, there is the need to have changes in the mindsets of the senior managers. The senior managers must be advised of the importance of turning the employees creative and they must be instructed to provide sufficient opportunities to the employees to offer their suggestions. The company must adopt a combined approach of bottom-up for inviting suggestions and top-down for guiding the employees in suggesting new ways of doing things.
The HR department must assess the training needs for improving the creativity of the employees and organize for effective training programs, which are designed to improve the creative skills of the employees. The company must make a liberal budget for the training of employees in the areas of creativity. Freedom or autonomy is an important factor, which will bring out the best in the employees in the matter of creativity. Therefore, the employees must be provided a free hand for trying new methods of production or trying a new system of working. Instead of punishing them for failures, the management must encourage them to rectify the possible mistakes and make a retry of the system or method. This will have a tremendous positive impact on the employees’ creativity and innovative capabilities.
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