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௠ Academy of Management Journal 2011, Vol. 54, No. 3, 624–641.

GILES HIRST Monash University DAAN VAN KNIPPENBERG Erasmus University Rotterdam CHIN-HUI CHEN Taiwan Customs Bureau CLAUDIA A. SACRAMENTO Aston University
Offering important counterpoint to work identifying team influences stimulating creative expression of individual differences in goal orientation, we develop cross-level theory establishing that team bureaucratic practices (centralization and formalization) constrain creative expression. Speaking to the tension between bureaucracy and creativity, findings indicate that this influence is not only negative and that effects of centralization and formalization differ. Surveying 330 employees in 95 teams at the Taiwan Customs Bureau, we found that learning and “performance avoid” goal orientations had, respectively, stronger positive and weaker negative relationships with creativity under low centralization. A “performance-prove” orientation was positively related to creativity under low formalization.

As employee creativity is crucial for organizational innovation and survival (Amabile, 1988; Oldham & Cummings, 1996), managers and scholars alike have sought to identify the ingredients that foster individual creativity. It is well recognized that the team context in which employees are embedded plays a central role in stimulating the creative expression of individual differences (Amabile & Conti, 1999; Hirst, van Knippenberg, & Zhou, 2009; Shalley, Zhou, & Oldham, 2004). Accordingly, researchers have begun to adopt a cross-level focus to examine the interplay between individual and team factors (Zhou & Shalley, 2008; cf. Klein & Kozlowski, 2000). In this respect, research has identified individual differences in goal orientation

The authors would like to thank Associate Editor Elizabeth Morrison and the three anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and suggestions. We also thank Jeremy Dawson, Pamela Tierney, and Adam Grant for their advice and The Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Melbourne, for the support and facilities provided during the first author’s sabbatical. Editor’s Note: The manuscript for this article was accepted during Duane Ireland’s term as editor.

that encourage self-regulation in achievement situations as a powerful influence on creativity when a context stimulates their expression (Hirst et al., 2009). Yet researchers have in effect turned a blind eye to the fact that organizations, and units within them, also need to impose practices and procedures that themselves regulate, order, and control behavior (Burns & Stalker, 1961; Thompson, 1965). Organizations and organizational units instill such practices to ensure consistency, efficiency, and control (Adler, 1999), but such bureaucracy may stifle individuals’ creativity. To build toward a comprehensive understanding of the factors affecting individual creativity in teams, scholars thus need to consider not only contextual factors that invite creativity, but also contextual influences that may constrain it. To provide this important complementary perspective on the current state of the science, we zoom in on team bureaucratic context and how it influences the creative expression of goal orientations. We rely on an integrative person-in-situation theory that describes how situational influences may either restrain or invite the expression of individual differences (Tett & Burnett, 2003; cf. Mischel, 1977). Although at first glance it might appear that

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interpreting. creative behavior. In examining person-in-situation influences. 1998. Chen. and responding to achievement situations (DeShon & Gillespie. in such situations. an avoid orientation). 1996. Goal orientations encourage people to choose. acknowledgement. which has eluded the field for half a century (cf. 2009). 1999). by analyses of contextual regulation of behavior at the level of social aggregates (Raub. because creativity inherently holds a risk of failure. First. van Knippenberg. 2007) and bring together two perspectives on behavioral regulation that have been studied in separate traditions. and we propose that high versus low levels of centralization have different influences on individuals’ creative tendencies than high versus low levels of formalization. Intrinsic task motivation encourages individuals to invest effort and show perseverance (Amabile. 2009. Two distinct orientations are commonly identified. This motivation is captured by the performance goal orientation. centralization and formalization (Bolin & Ha ¨ renstam. 1996). or avoiding criticism (VandeWalle. 2009. & Farh. & Zajac. The avoid orientation. prioritizing establishing and sticking to a beaten track. One perspective has been characterized by individual-level analyses of self-regulation in goaldirected behavior (DeShon & Gillespie. 2007). This externally attuned motivation can be divided into two subdimensions. Our core contribution lies in an important advancement of person-in-situation analyses of creativity (Hirst et al. 2006). 1997). People may also be motivated by extrinsic factors such as competing against others. and Sacramento 625 the influence of bureaucracy is straightforward—it suppresses creativity—we propose that a closer look suggests that the issue is more complex. Huang.2011 Hirst.. Morris. 2009. receiving rewards. 2010. the other. or avoid. Our study thus provides insights into resolution of the tension between bureaucratic control and innovation. it is not surprising that individual differences in goal orientation that relate to an individual’s motivation to tackle challenging problems influence employee creativity (Gong. A performance-prove goal orientation (from here on. a learning orientation) is focused on the development of competence and task mastery and fosters an intrinsic interest in a task itself (Dweck. 2009). a prove orientation) encourages individuals to seek to attain favorable judgments. 2007). 2005.g. Individual Team Members: Goal Orientations and Creativity Achievement motivation theory describes goal orientations as motivational orientations that capture how individuals regulate attention and effort when approaching. as organizations rely on a certain level of bureaucracy. either consciously or subconsciously. 2004). Hirst et al. Bunderson & Boumgarden. This is also a pragmatically important issue.. Burns & Stalker. Mathieu. 2002). we deviate from the organizational design literature’s study of the main effects of bureaucracy (e. before we move on to our cross-level integration of these two perspectives in a series of hypotheses. providing a tangible and useful outcome for an organization (Amabile. DeShon & Gillespie. Elliot & Church. Second. but also constrain them. Janssen & Van Yperen. there are important individual differences in goal orientations that capture individuals’ likelihood to engage in. 1997) that would have provided opportunities for creativity. and there is a strong case to be made that these differences in goal orientations lead individuals to respond differently to higher and lower levels of team bureaucracy. & Vella. 2005. Taggar. demonstrating that contextual influences may not only invite the creative expression of individual differences. 1988). Following from the description of creativity as an outcome that derives from addressing work challenges.. to engage in certain types of behaviors in achievement situations. A learning goal orientation (from here on. Raub. Caruana. We first outline this individual difference perspective on creativity and then introduce the bureaucratic team context perspective. 1997). For instance. in contrast. 1961).. Raub. while also desiring creativity— which by definition entails stepping off the beaten track. Porath & Bateman. bureaucracy can be characterized in terms of two core dimensions. and it is not surprising that a learning orientation encourages people to develop creative solutions to problems at work (Gong et al. and the possibility of appearing incompetent discourages these individuals from engaging in risky or challenging activities (VandeWalle. cf. 2005). 2009. individuals with high levels of . The prove orientation may dispose individuals to be more creative when creativity is valued as a way to demonstrate competence (Hirst et al.. Hirst et al. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND AND HYPOTHESES Individual creativity at work involves the development of practical and new solutions to workplace challenges. 2008. disposes individuals to be less creative.. Goal orientation is fundamentally about self-regulation of behavior (Button. which is focused on the demonstration of competence to others. whereas people who are concerned about avoiding unfavorable competence judgments have a performance-avoid goal orientation (from here on.

1998. directing and enforcing these actions. (2009) studied this very issue.g. Raub. 2007. Team bureaucratic practices. Kirkman. participative decision making is accorded an important role in actively engaging and intrinsically motivating employees (Arnold.. cf. 2005). and organizations differ in the extent to which bureaucratic practices restrain their members. 2007. Kristoff. If decisions must be referred up the chain of command and made by a few superiors. These findings show that team dynamics may stimulate the expression of creative tendencies. the absence of bureaucracy is not necessarily stimulating. Hirst et al. 2006. 2007). and this context may influence the relationship between goal orientation and creativity. Low team formalization. 1961): centralization of decision making (Van de Ven & Ferry. 2000. 1967). and persisting when obstacles are encountered. as we argue in the following. focusing on team learning behavior as a contextual influence stimulating the expression of goal orientations that are conducive to creativity. Arad. Conceptual frameworks distinguish two main dimensions in this respect (Bolin & Ha ¨ renstam. setting difficult goals. Individual creativity is often enacted in the context of a team or work group (Taggar. Centralization relates to how power is distributed in an organizational hierarchy and whether employees are encouraged to participate in decision making (Hage & Aiken. Both centralized decision making and formal rules and procedures are ways of regulating and controlling employee behavior—the essence of bureaucracy—and are associated with low employee discretion on the job. & Rosen. and their influence cannot be extrapolated from earlier findings concerning creativity-stimulating influences (e. Chen. centralization captures the extent to which within-team decision authority lies solely with a team’s leader (decision making is centralized) or is shared between leader and members (decision making is decentralized and participative).. merely reflects the absence of rules and procedures regulating team member behavior and . the concept of disposition should not be misrepresented to imply that an individual will always behave in certain ways. and constraining employees’ ability to engage in discretionary behaviors (Raub. low centralization may in fact have an influence that is described as “empowering” in other literatures in which decentralized. Low centralization captures a context in which all employees participate and are afforded discretion and opportunities to act according to their own inclination. 2003. Kanfer. represent a different class of team contextual influences in that they may impose exactly such constraints on creativity. Further testifying to the viability of this contingency perspective. in contrast. departments. it implies an emphasis on the contingencies of disposition-outcome relationships. to adequately model the behavioral outcomes of goal orientations. Adding to the complexity of the issue. just as the absence of creativity-simulating influences is not necessarily restraining). They demonstrated that team learning behavior helped “bring out” the positive relationship between a learning orientation and creativity and between a prove orientation and creativity. it is necessary to consider how they inform responses to the context in which the behavior is enacted (DeShon & Gillespie. The Team Bureaucratic Context: Centralization and Formalization Teams.626 Academy of Management Journal June learning orientation may choose to engage in adaptive behaviors patterns such as selecting challenging tasks. Caruana et al. cf. Increasing formalization reduces the extent of employees’ freedom by prescribing procedures and potentially by sanctioning some courses of action—providing specific directions as to appropriate actions. Allen. yet they are mute on the issue that assumes center stage in the current study: the possibility that team contextual influences may also constrain the expression of creative tendencies. who are expected to share decision-making authority with their leader. Therefore. 1997). in contrast. In the team context. Burns & Stalker. 2008. Formalization relates to the extent to which rules are clearly specified and procedures standardized. the strong emergence of person-in-situation approaches (Chen & Kanfer. Low centralization thus reflects an active influence on team members. 1996) highlights that an analysis of the interplay between individual and context is essential to predict the expression of individual dispositions. Tett & Burnett. 1999). Rhoades. Kirkman & Rosen. That is. the restraining influ- ence of team bureaucratic practices may not have negative creativity consequences across the board. In that sense. & Drasgow. (2009) did not find relationships between goal orientations and creativity across the board but rather. Instead. centralization is high. a person-in-situation approach suggests moving away from a “main effects” approach in which the influence of individual differences is assumed to be constant. Hirst et al. found that the relationships were contingent on team learning behavior. Rather. 2002). More broadly. 1980) and formalization of rules and procedures prescribing and controlling behavior (Hall. The absence of creativity-stimulating team contextual influences such as team learning behavior in no way imposes constraints on individuals’ creative behavior.

Chen et al. but not when centralization is high. however. Put differently. 2003) their learning orientation. decentralized decision making encourages individuals to contribute and participate in decisions and provides individuals latitude to express their views (Arnold et al. which not only promotes a greater variety of different views. The importance of a focus on team bureaucracy as an influence on goal orientation-creativity relationships is evident in a conceptual analysis by Thompson (1965). Decentralized decision making thus may play an important role in bringing out the tendencies to engage in the creative behavior captured by learning and prove orientations and in attenuating tendencies to walk away from creative challenges associated with an avoid orientation. This context may even create a positive cycle of interest and enthusiasm. who suggested that bureaucratic practices demotivate and restrain engagement in entrepreneurial. They can be expected to focus on the cues. In decentralized contexts. 2008). and intrinsic motivation. 2007). Learning-oriented people are motivated to learn and seek out tasks that are challenging because these provide greater opportunities for development. situational influences may also invite (“activate” [Tett & Burnett. Such an inhibiting influence directly relates to the issues at stake in the current analysis. 1996). 2000. Performance-oriented people seek to maximize rewards and minimize possible punishments using environmental cues to decide which behaviors are appropriate (Seijts. 2007). van Knippenberg. In the following sections. and Sacramento 627 thus if anything is merely a “passive” influence on individuals. Raub. we propose that low levels of centralization and formalization may in fact reflect markedly different influences on employees—an issue that becomes apparent when one considers their cross-level interaction with goal orientations. & Latham. We propose that team bureaucratic practices are particularly relevant in this respect. Decentralized decision-making practices. because of the opportunity to explore and learn from different views and ideas and because of the challenge and learning opportunities implicit in engaging with complex problems facing their team.2011 Hirst. Thus: Hypothesis 1a. In contrast. & Locke. encouraging higher intrinsic motivation that further fuels creativity (Amabile. 2003]) the expression of individual dispositions. should appeal to learning-oriented individuals. because the level of team bureaucracy may both constrain and invite the expression of individual differences in goal orientations. activating (Tett & Burnett. The nature of the influence of decentralized decision making on individuals with prove orientations compared to those with avoid orientations will differ.. Individual Differences in a Team Context: Goal Orientation and Centralization In teams. This context may stimulate employees to grapple with less routine challenges and problems facing their team (Ahearne. Tasa. 1994). Mathieu. Situational factors that constrain or prescribe behavior limit the scope for the expression of individual differences by creating “strong” situations that override dispositions (Mischel. nonroutine tasks and limit innovation (cf. 2004). Centralized decision making reduces opportunities for individuals to contribute original thoughts or idiosyncratic novel views and to participate in discussions about important issues facing a team—the very issues that might benefit from individual creativity in meeting challenges and solving problems. 1977). . 2006). we outline these propositions in more detail for both centralization and formalization. centralization relates to the extent to which the leaders control and independently make decisions concerning the teams as opposed to engendering participative decision making (Bolin & Ha ¨ renstam. Tett & Burnett. Latham. In contrast. Srivastava. a powerful seed for creativity (Amabile. Chen. Centralization thus attenuates or removes the creative benefits of a learning orientation that derive from intrinsically motivated engagement with work challenges. 1996). Bartol. 2005. Decentralized practices promote a supportive climate that conveys an invitation to voice and share one’s own perspective (Arnold et al. A learning orientation and centralization interact to influence creativity: the learning orientation is positively related to creativity when centralization is low. Although high centralization and formalization may thus be similarly restraining in regulating and controlling team member behavior. centralization inhibits (cf.. as a source of information for determining the choice of actions favored in the team. but may also invite a more committed and proactive engagement with potential challenges facing a team. 2000) and therefore are also likely to reassure and encourage a team’s members to feel that their contributions are appreciated (Wagner. The greater autonomy afforded by decentralization also fosters psychological ownership and empowerment and thus builds enthusiasm. 2003) the creative expression of a learning orientation. com- mitment to decisions. team members share their views. in this case the amount of centralization evident in a team’s context. in contrast. Centralization reduces opportunities to explore and learn and diminishes employee’s control. & Rapp..

In contrast. the avoid orientation is negatively related to creativity when centralization is high. When prove-oriented individuals work in a context where the leader arrives at decisions with little consultation or invitation to participate. avoid orientations predispose individuals to stay clear of job challenges and problems that may invite acts of creativity. but not when centralization is high. centralization inhibits the creative expression of a prove orientation. Unlike learning and prove orientations. A prove orientation and centralization interact to influence creativity. which may inspire active engagement with job challenges. Thus. The chance to display their prowess may tantalize them to display high levels of proficiency and to be acknowledged and recognized for their abilities. Thus. As a result. in contrast to its inhibiting influence on the relationships between learning and prove orientations and creativity. we predict: Hypothesis 1c. For individuals with an avoid orientation. they may assume the leader has little interest in their suggestions or views and become less likely to engage in complex problem solving and creativity to meet work challenges. thus lowering the threshold for engaging in such behaviors. centralization creates a team climate with limited support and few opportunities to proactively contribute to decisions and solve work challenges that require creativity. in decentralized contexts. 1999). This sense should lower their dispositional “barriers” to trying new approaches. reinforcing their tendency to avoid such activities. Individual Differences in Team Context: Goal Orientation and Team Formalization Formalized team contexts are characterized by rules and standardized procedures that limit the choice of behaviors and decisions an individual can make. if anything centralization may bolster the negative relationship between an avoid orientation and creativity. behavior is regulated and restrained to a . decentralized practices that foster inclusive decision making diminish the negative consequences of voicing an opinion that may be out-ofsynch with the views of one’s team. A different set of events occurs in decentralized contexts. because it signals both that false assumptions or errors are less likely to elicit negative feedback and that team members are encouraged to discuss different approaches. prove-oriented people will construe team discussions as a forum in which to demonstrate competence. engaging influence of decentralized decision making may work to counter avoidant tendencies. Thus. Rules and regulations effectively reduce individuals’ opportunities to engage in discretionary behaviors and provide a setting that “presses” individuals to follow certain procedures and approaches (Hall. Teams that are high in formalization are characterized by clear behavioral protocols involving administrative checks (as evidenced by paperwork and administration) that regulate and direct employees’ behavior. the prove orientation is positively related to creativity when centralization is low. Hypothesis 1b. we may expect individuals with a stronger prove orientation to be more responsive to the extent to which their context encourages them to contribute to team decisions and to provide suggestions to solve team problems. where participative practices signal that individuals’ contributions and proactive engagement with work challenges are not only supported and encouraged. This climate may stimulate or at least reassure avoid-oriented individuals that their proactive engagement with work challenges is appreciated. For an avoid orientation and centralization. matters are different. For prove-oriented people too. the lack of support and appreciation for employees’ proactive engagement with the work that is conveyed by high centralization may actually reinforce avoid-oriented individuals’ dispositional tendencies. This setting fosters a climate in which norms support participating in decisions and engaging with work challenges. but not when centralization is low. We therefore expect that a prove orientation is related to creativity when centralization is low rather than high. but also appreciated and expected. decentralization works as trait activating. even though these behaviors may differ from their inherently cautious inclinations. where team members are encouraged to contribute. making it easier for avoid-oriented individuals to clarify uncertainties by facilitating shared learning through team discussion and problem solving. An avoid orientation and centralization interact to influence creativity. Accordingly. motivation to engage in creative activities depends on the extent to which they perceive they are likely to be recognized and rewarded for their behavior. Likewise.” As formalization increases. whereas the active.628 Academy of Management Journal June For prove-oriented people. which would have provided greater oppor- tunities for creativity. In these settings. they are prototypical instances of what Mischel (1977) called “strong situations. absence of explicit encouragement to creatively engage with important job issues may lead avoidoriented people to perceive their leader as less than supportive of experimental and potentially risky activities.

Avoid-oriented individuals tend to avoid challenges that carry the risk of errors and failure and to favor endeavors with a high chance of success (VandeWalle. Rather. unlike decentralized decision making. whereas formalized procedures may do little to promote creativity. encouraging proveoriented employees to engage in creative problemsolving behaviors. In comparison. Learning-oriented employees are intrinsically motivated to learn.2011 Hirst. but not when formalization is high. more opportunities for discretion. the risk of failure may loom large and invite avoid-oriented individuals to steer clear of creative challenges. this reduces prove-oriented individual’s creative tendencies.e. rendering the relationship between an avoid orientation and creativity weaker under conditions of high formalization than under conditions of low formalization. Developing creative solutions to problems others have failed to resolve provides a particularly powerful demonstration of competence and so provides an opportunistic chance to demonstrate one’s capability. which results in rule following and unwillingness to engage in behaviors deviating from these standard procedures. there will be fewer guidelines. we hypothesize: Hypothesis 2c. . the avoid orientation is negatively related to creativity when formalization is low. Hypothesis 2b. however. and done well.. high formalization inhibits the expression of individual dispositions. according to an individual’s disposition. this situation may invite more creativity in meeting work challenges from individuals with a stronger motivation to demonstrate their competence. there is reason to expect a less evident influence in teams with higher formalization of practices. For an avoid orientation. An avoid orientation and formalization interact to influence creativity. that the absence of formalized practices encourages creativity (i. we predict: Hypothesis 2a. Thus. reducing the expression of individual differences. as a learning orientation disposes individuals to creatively engage with work problems and challenges. In teams low in formalization. In less formalized team contexts. Whereas decentralization in fact is an active influence that makes the avoid orientation– creativity relationship weaker than it is under conditions of high centralization (Hypothesis 1c). on the other hand. van Knippenberg. A prove orientation and formalization interact to influence creativity. but not when formalization is high. however. they at least work to keep avoid-oriented individuals’ tendency to avoid creative challenges in check. 1997). the less freedom there is for the expression of individual differences. thus attenuating the influence of a learning orientation on creativity. learning-oriented employees working in less rule bound team environments experience fewer restrictions and have greater discretion to express their inclination to try new approaches. and Sacramento 629 greater degree and funneled and homogenized to a small set of choices offering little freedom. the learning orientation is positively related to creativity when formalization is low. low formalization merely reflects the absence of rules and procedures regulating behavior and actually provides more opportunity for the expression of an avoid orientation than high formalization. Chen. This is not to say. but not when formalization is high. A learning orientation and formalization interact to influence creativity. Accordingly. which may either stimulate or impair creativity. In effect. Performance-oriented individuals in teams with high formalization perceive clear guidelines as to the behavior that is expected and seen as appropriate. In terms of trait activation theory (Tett & Burnett. The reason for this is the same as it is for learning and prove orientations: The more rules and procedures guide job performance. 2003). and thus more leeway for the expression of individual differences. Thus. When guidelines are few. the absence of prescribed structure and the associated freedom may increase uncertainty about the appropriate ways to engage with the job. too. Compared to situations of high formalization. Prove-oriented individuals seeking to demonstrate high performance in a context with few formal rules and procedures thus have little information as to how they can demonstrate competence in relation to their peers other than by getting the job done. which plays a more active role in this respect). Teams with little formalization of rules and procedures. Prove-oriented individuals use these guidelines to regulate their behavior. provide an environment in which there is less enforced clarity as to desired ways to engage with the job. it points to greater freedom for the expression of individual differences with fewer specific procedural directions to follow. A highly formalized team environment restricts the expression of this desire by limiting discretion. Note that this is where the difference between low centralization and low formalization discussed earlier expresses itself. the prove orientation is positively related to creativity when formalization is low.

2003) in which the nature and methods of offenses varied (from trafficking controlled substances. and Kaohsiung. which precluded matching questionnaires to supervisor ratings. 2006. worked relatively independently of each other. ensuring a 100 percent completion rate. Zhou & Shalley. by developing processes to improve work efficiency). Employees’ creativity was appraised in annual performance reviews and promotion decisions. The survey was translated by one of the authors and two university faculty using the procedures described by Brislin (1980). government agencies to share security information. and organs and biomedical by-products. & Graen. 388 employees completed questionnaires containing the independent variables. and this interaction has necessitated new computer systems as well as the development and application of new X-ray inspection technologies for cargo and containers. At the project’s initiation. In total. comprising those working at the Bureau’s offices at the international airports of Taipei and Kaohsiung and the international harbors of Keelung.g. The remaining 57 percent of the teams performed administrative and management functions such as performance monitoring. we expected them to be in a prime position to evaluate their employees and to be comfortable. the average age was 44 years. providing a usable sample of 90 and 97 percent of the original individual. management implemented a department-wide total quality management (TQM) initiative that included appraisals as well as monetary rewards or credits to encourage employees to submit creative ideas to improve work processes or solve work problems. For example. we slightly refined the translation of some of the measures for the larger study. creativity was required to teach scent-detecting dogs trained in another country to identify new scents associated with offenses specific to the Taiwanese context (e. Having obtained adequate to good psychometrics and verbal feedback from participants. Supervisor ratings have been found to relate to creative output (e. willing. 64 percent had university qualifications. Thus. Forty-three percent of the teams performed operational search and detection tasks. a subordinate grappling with a new data-collecting system would be appraised on whether he or she had developed new ways to address or solve problems. As such. since the September 11. to visa fraud and people smuggling). and fairly adept at doing so. information technology. As in previous studies (Baer & Oldham. and had leaders with a high degree of influence on teamwork outcomes.S.. invention disclosure forms and patents [Tierney. a combination of challenging demands and limited resources made it essential for employees to display creativity in developing innovative solutions to problems. developing finance protocols or search procedures). Prior research supports the validity of this measurement approach. the Customs Bureau placed much emphasis on systems development and integration. narcotics. and 97 team leaders rated employee creativity. 2008). as providing appraisals was part of their job. Given a strategic mandate to work and share data with other agencies. and Procedures A national survey of employees of the Taiwan Customs Bureau was conducted. A rank-and-file. For example. 2001.g. betel nut smuggling). A quarter of the sample had been educated at junior college (the equivalent of a short. attacks. long-standing member of the organization who was supportive of the broader project personally distributed a paper survey to teams. the Bureau sought to empower officers to streamline work practices to reduce red tape. 1999]). Promotion decisions also assessed the “creativity of employees’ researching and working. Taichung. Em- . protected species. and 10 percent had postgraduate degrees. finance. Given the strategic sensitivity of the region and the need to keep pace with a “technology and crime arms race” (Ball. we conducted a small pilot test with 36 employees to make sure all measures were reliable and used terms appropriate to the organization.” For example.g. this was a particularly challenging function. yet also assure they worked within government regulations and demonstrated procedural compliance. With these approaches. Employees worked in teams that were responsible for a particular activity (e. either because employees had left the organization or administrative records were incomplete.. The majority of sample members were male (73%). Participants had the option of responding anonymously. animal and farm produce. Recognizing the necessity of creativity and innovation. We therefore obtained matched data for 330 employees and 95 teams. Farmer. supervisors were chosen to appraise creativity.g. Creative problem solving was required to develop new innovative detection approaches to keep pace with diverse criminal activities. practically oriented university program). Subordinates who achieved positive assessments obtained credits in their promotion evaluation...630 Academy of Management Journal June METHODS Research Setting. and human resources activities. and in addition some records were obsolete. and average tenures in the organization and in their current position were 16 and 6 years.and team-level populations. suggestions for improvement schemes. Taiwan Customs have worked with U. Participants. Performance reviews included criteria assessing how subordinates used creativity in their jobs (e.

and Kung-McIntyre (2003). and Sacramento 631 ployees were paid at varying salary “bands” according to their length of service.05).” An example of the five-item learning orientation scale is “I often look for opportunities to develop new skills and knowledge. The items.” to 5. More senior employees who were on higher bands tended to work in roles that provided greater decision-making latitude. formalization. centralization and formalization differed between teams (p Ͻ .06.g. “strongly disagree.” to 7 “to a large extent. For a more comprehensive test of the multilevel data structure.” To facilitate interpretation.” Items were “Seeks new ideas and ways to solve problems. Hanges. We included additional controls to take into account both the heterogeneity of the sample and practices particular to the Customs Bureau.” and “Tries new ideas and approaches to problems. 2009). We used a three-item scale (Hage & Aiken. and Hall (2005).” “avoid. The first alternative was a . we were left with the choice of adapting one of these scales or selecting a team-focused alternative. “not at all correct.92 for formalization. Measures Goal orientation. more senior employees were generally paid more and afforded greater discretion and so greater opportunities for creativity).” “Our work involves a great deal of paperwork and administration. which is responsible for large volumes of sea-based trade through Keelung Harbor.” “Generates ideas revolutionary to the field. To control for potential differences in offices and practices. Given the good reliability and validity reported for it. & Wolf. we selected Arnold et al.” to 5 ϭ “postgraduate degree: master’s or Ph. and creativity.” to 6.e.2011 Hirst.” An example of the four-item prove orientation scale is “I’m concerned with showing that I can perform better than my co-workers. and team size. Chen.89 for centralization and . suggested adequate within-team agreement (James.” were “There are a lot of rules and regulations in this team.” “Is a good role model for innovation/creativity. We used VandeWalle’s (1997) three-factor scales to assess goal orientation as “learning. Lee & Choi. “high school. Tier- ney. At the team level.”).” and “Our work is highly regulated by bureaucratic procedures.” “Encourages work group members to express ideas/suggestions. Rafferty & Griffin.” or “prove. and avoid orientations. the capital and largest airport.D. we first examined whether the data justified aggregation of team-level constructs. In selecting a centralization measure. Because team context was a core element in both our theory development and research setting. RMSEA ϭ .” to 7. We first performed confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) on the six constructs of learning. df ϭ 237. we also reviewed scales constructed for an organizational context rather than a team context (e. Validation of Multilevel Data Structure Analyses included individual. 2004) relating to the extent to which work was structured and regulated by rules and protocols to assess formalization.” 1 ϭ “female”). individual and team tenure.” Centralization. Demaree. and centralization. rated from 1. using a team’s leader as the referent. 2002) and to influence team processes (Hirst et al. we controlled for whether a team was “operational” (coded 1) or “administrative/managerial” (coded 2).01. education (1. a distinctive locale that hosts the most remote provincial office. which assesses the extent to which within-team decision making is centralized in the leader role as opposed to decentralized in participative decision making. as follows: “Uses my work group’s suggestions to make decisions that affect us. Thus the rwg(j) supported aggregation of constructs to the team level. The items.95) was compared with the fits of six potential alternatives. We controlled for employees’ remuneration band (i. Performing two different analyses to validate this data structure. 2003. CFI ϭ . Team leaders rated employees’ creativity on a scale ranging from 1. We measured employees’ creativity using the four-item scale reported by Farmer. prove. van Knippenberg. We controlled for gender (0 ϭ “male.” Control variables.and team-level constructs. Formalization. 2007).” The rating scale for all items ranged from 1 “not at all.” and “Gives all work group members a chance to voice their opinions.. calculated using a normal distribution. rated on a scale ranging from 1. The fit of the model with six factors loading separately (␹2 ϭ 493.’s (2000) four-item measure. “strongly agree. however. as each has been found to relate to employee creativity (Tierney & Farmer. and region 2 was Keelung.” “Listens to my work group’s ideas and suggestions. 1967.26.. “completely correct. “strongly disagree..” assess centralization of decision making.” An example of the four-item avoid orientation scale is “I’m concerned about taking on a task at work if my performance would reveal that I had low ability. 1984). p Ͻ . Mean values of rwg(j) across teams of . we conducted a multilevel factor analysis following procedures recommended by Dyer. “strongly agree. According to a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA).” Creativity. we created two dummy variables for region: region 1 was Taipai. Raub. individual age and mean team age. we reverse-scored the scale so that higher ratings reflected greater centralization of within-team decision making.

CFI ϭ . a two-factor model collapsing all independent variables into one factor (␹2 ϭ 2959.06.664.19.03.44).88). only age was a significant. 1994) at both the individual and group levels of analysis (␹2 ϭ 112. RESULTS Table 1 displays correlations among variables.20. and convergence problems tend to arise when the number of observed indicators is high (Dyer et al. p Ͻ .458. whereby values are selected by convention (i. These findings show that the sixfactor model provided a good fit with the data and a better fit than the alternative models. df ϭ 251. Avoid orientation (␥ ϭ –. CFI ϭ . p Ͻ . we tested a threefactor model also collapsing centralization and formalization into one bureaucracy factor (␹2 ϭ 1. The null model allowed us to test the betweenteam variance in creativity by examining the level 2 residual variance of the intercept (␶00) and the ICC1 statistic.17. A precondition for testing crosslevel interactions here was that the slopes of relations between the goal orientations and creativity vary across teams.05) had a negative relation with creativity. we conducted simple slopes analysis for all crosslevel interactions.08. Curran. Using the procedure described by Preacher et al. Hypotheses 1a. df ϭ 249.. p Ͻ . The third alternative was a four-factor model collapsing all three orientations into one goal orientation factor (␹2 ϭ 1.18. Of the level 1 control variables. 2003).01. and a one-factor model (␹2 ϭ 3. These data modeled at the individual level thus demonstrated the convergent and discriminant validity of the constructs studied. df ϭ 242. we targeted these graphs to reflect one particular moderating influence on the relationship of one particular goal orientation with creativity and did not fully factor in the influence of the other model variables. and 1c predict that centralization moderates the relations be- . and the second alternative model had the learning and prove orientations collapsed into one “approach” factor (␹2 ϭ 1. RMSEA ϭ . (2006) and software developed by Shacham (2009). First.09.06. RMSEA ϭ . one standard deviation above and below the mean). we used item parcelling based on item skewness to reduce the number of observed indicators (Nasser & Wisenbaker. and so these figures should be interpreted in terms of the slopes for the goal orientations.14.37.001) and an ICC1 of . CFI ϭ .81. This procedure resulted in a reduction in the number of indicators from 24 to 13 and a factor structure with acceptable fit (Muthe ´ n. CFI ϭ .04). p Ͻ . None of the level 2 variables were significantly related to employee creativity. Next we introduced the individuallevel variables (step 1).632 Academy of Management Journal June five-factor model with prove and avoid orientations collapsed to represent an overall performance orientation factor (␹2 ϭ 818. p Ͻ . Main effects.224. Our hypotheses are cross-level interaction hypotheses.06.33). which represents the proportion of variance in the outcome variable that resided between groups.01. This was the case (learning orientation: U1 variance ϭ . to be explained by level 2 variables. ␹2[94] ϭ 289. Note that although the graphs for the interactions presented below might suggest main effects for the dimensions of bureaucracy. df ϭ 252. RMSEA ϭ .97. U1 variance ϭ . to reduce possible problems with multicollinearity (Raudenbush & Bryk. p Ͻ . p ϭ .e. indicating 37 percent of the variance resided between teams.01. and we used hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) to test them. RMSEA ϭ .01.11. providing sufficient basis to test the multilevel structure of the data (Dyer et al.19. Moreover.71).14 (p Ͻ . the results might differ. p Ͻ . 2002). p Ͻ .565. SRMRwithin ϭ . RMSEA ϭ . and in the final step we simultaneously tested all cross-level interactions (step 3). Individual-level variables are below and aggregated variables above the diagonal. Multilevel factor analysis is computationally demanding. Team-level (level 2) variables were not centered. 1b. Following Preacher. RMSEA ϭ . df ϭ 242. p Ͻ .13.99. We estimated slopes-asoutcomes models in HLM to assess the moderating effect of centralization and formalization on the relationship between goal orientation and employee creativity. avoid orientation.06.and between-team CFA models comprising six factors. We expected that the sixfactor structure of the model would be consistent at both levels. Analyses revealed a ␶00 of . next. and Bauer’s (2006) recommendations. predictor of creativity (␥ ϭ –. ␹2[94] ϭ 288. and not the intercept for low and high bureaucracy.05). Cross-level interactions. The model explained 4 percent of the variance in creativity. ␹2[94] ϭ 284. Were other values to be selected.13. and negative. we group-mean-centered all individuallevel (level 1) variables except for gender. To avoid nonconvergence. df ϭ 100.01). The final section of Table 2 presents the results of this analysis.73. p Ͻ .14. thus we constructed within.80). followed by the team variables (step 2).02.. The second and third sections of Table 2 show the level 1 and 2 main effects.01.01. these were not significant. CFI ϭ . CFI ϭ . 2005).14.. SRMRbetween ϭ . prove orientation: U1 variance ϭ . RMSEA ϭ . df ϭ 246. Table 2 summarizes the HLM results. p Ͻ . These figures should be interpreted in light of the fact that we followed Aiken and West’s (1991) method for examining interactions. we tested a null model into which no predictors were entered. CFI ϭ . 2005).73).

06 (.39** Ϫ.27** Ϫ.TABLE 1 Means.02 Ϫ.03 Ϫ.20** Ϫ.02 Ϫ.08 Ϫ.17 Ϫ.02 .06 .14 .87** .50 .06 Ϫ.06 .22* (.08 .07 .29** .08 .08 .00 Ϫ.93) .14** .20** Ϫ.01 Ϫ.17 13 Ϫ.12* 14 Ϫ.17 Ϫ.99 4.05 .84) Variable Mean s.36** Ϫ.12 Ϫ.03 Ϫ.13* . 4.79 1.02 4.39 14.65) .05 .61 0.03 (.09 .17** Ϫ.06 .00 6.05 .03 Ϫ.01 .06 Ϫ.12* Ϫ.08 .04 .63** .34** .18** 2.04 Ϫ.00 Ϫ. and group-level analyses are above the diagonal.05 Ϫ. Internal consistency reliabilities are in parentheses.06 Ϫ.15 Ϫ. 3.15 Ϫ.14 9.63** Ϫ.23** 1.04 .06 .17 Ϫ. 13. Gender Age Tenure Revenue Education Learning orientation Avoid orientation Prove orientation Category Region 1 Region 2 Mean age Team tenure Team size Centralization Formalization Creativity 0. 16.06 Ϫ.09 .01 .11 . Standard Deviations.13* 4.20* (. 14.03 4.02 .00 Ϫ.14 Ϫ.01 .10 Ϫ.07 .07 .13 Ϫ.02 Ϫ.01 a Individual-level analyses are below the diagonal.32** .62** Ϫ.04 .07 Ϫ.05 Ϫ.01 .15 Ϫ.34** Ϫ.10 .21** .01 0.18** .21* .17 Ϫ.09 .04 .53** .04 (.11* Ϫ. 6.12 Ϫ.21** 16.07 Ϫ.09 .04 Ϫ.02 .02 .11 Ϫ.19** Ϫ.02 .11 .12 Ϫ.44** .07 .04 .08 .26 . 17.07 . 5.32** Ϫ.08 Ϫ.01 .81 0.82) .10 .60 Ϫ.14* 1. 9.01 8.87** .04 Ϫ.08 Ϫ.12 1.89) .62** .03 (.06 .03 .40** .00** .63 .03 .66** Ϫ.03 . * p Յ .06 .10 .05 .09 Ϫ.02 .05 Ϫ.36* Ϫ. 8.22 Ϫ.11 Ϫ.10 Ϫ.01 .28** Ϫ.01 .14* 2.17** Ϫ.07 Ϫ.09 .12 .09 .81 5.04 .13 .13 Ϫ.32** .42** .09 Ϫ.08 Ϫ.04 .05 . 2.15** .01 Ϫ.02 .15 Ϫ.03 .26** Ϫ.09 Ϫ.02 .14* .15 Ϫ.24** Ϫ.47** .18** Ϫ.06 Ϫ.06 82.11 .11 Ϫ.04 Ϫ.70 0.01 Ϫ.60 .07 Ϫ.11 .11 Ϫ.27** Ϫ.32** Ϫ.01 .19** 43.01 Ϫ.01 .03 .87** Ϫ.07 0.04 Ϫ.10 .29 0.04 15 Ϫ.00** .01 Ϫ.07 .11 Ϫ.06 .11* .38** . 7.14 Ϫ. 15.10 . 11.12 Ϫ.15 Ϫ.83 Ϫ.d. 12.17** . 1.04 .62** Ϫ.05 .03 Ϫ.18 . 10.08 15.09 Ϫ.01 Ϫ. and Correlationsa 1 Ϫ.04 16 .03 Ϫ.00 Ϫ.11* .13* Ϫ.05 ** p Յ .98 2.46 .04 .02 17 Ϫ.23 .21 Ϫ.11 Ϫ.15 .10 1.32** 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Ϫ.07 Ϫ.14 .05 Ϫ.91 .02 .06 Ϫ.14** .24** .06 Ϫ.04 Ϫ.03 3.11 Ϫ.26** 0.28** .09 Ϫ.05 .01 .28** .05 Ϫ.24* .62** .02 Ϫ.09 .32** Ϫ.47 44.12 .04 .10 .19** Ϫ.03 .04 Ϫ.89** .03 Ϫ.62 .47** Ϫ.15 .12 Ϫ.43 0.01 .20** Ϫ.09 .11 Ϫ.87** 1.12 Ϫ.31 0.12* .11 .07 Ϫ.01 .14** .35** Ϫ.11 Ϫ.18 .40** Ϫ.06 3.04 .07 .01 Ϫ.08 Ϫ.99) .09 .79 1. n ϭ 95 teams comprising 330 employees.52** Ϫ.

08. None of these interactions were significant. Hypotheses 2a.11 Ϫ2.04 Employee n ϭ 330.06.10 0.01 0.95 Ϫ2.12 .12 . The slope was significant and negative when centralization was high (␤ ϭ –.03 Ϫ1. Not Two recent studies have shown nonlinear relations for a learning goal orientation (Bunderson & Sutcliffe.01 .01 .66 Ϫ0. p Ͻ . Indicates the proportion of variance explained at each level.04 .03 .03 77.03 0.01 0.634 Academy of Management Journal June TABLE 2 HLM Results for the Effects of Cross-Level Interactions of Goal Orientation with Team Bureaucracy on Employee Creativity Variable Null model Intercept Level 1 variables Intercept Gender Age Tenure Revenue Education Learning Prove Avoid Level 2 main effects Category Region 1 (two offices) Region 2 (four offices) Mean age Team tenure Team size Centralization Formalization All interaction terms Learning orientation ϫ centralization Prove orientation ϫ centralization Avoid orientation ϫ centralization Learning orientation ϫ formalization Prove orientation ϫ formalization Avoid orientation ϫ formalization a Coefficient s.s.03 .08* .08 .97* 1.01 .63* Ϫ0.08* Ϫ0.27.50 1.05 . ␤ ϭ . failing to support Hypothesis 1b. p Ͻ .04 .26* 297.01 0.82 0.05).08* Ϫ0.28* Ϫ0.19 285..05 Two-tailed tests. p Ͻ . team n ϭ 95. n. Figure 1A depicts this interaction.06 .63 0.64 585.05 0.02 .59 Ϫ2.).01) and nonsignificant when centralization was low (␤ ϭ –.01) and nonsignificant when it was high (one standard deviation above the mean.20 612.e.58* Ϫ0.31 .02 Ϫ0..74 Ϫ1.04 Ϫ0.49 .19.01 .05.14 0.37 1.03 .00 .02 Ϫ0. level 1 within-team variance. n.02 .70 0. t ϭ 3.03 Ϫ0.10* 0. b tween creativity and the learning. The slope was significant and positive when centralization was low (one standard deviation below the mean. t ϭ 3. t ␹2 Model Deviance R2b 2c Rtotal 3.16.12 . we entered quadratic and cubic terms into cross-level interactions for both team-level variables. The interaction of learning orientation and centralization was significant (␥ ϭ –. we also tested three-way interactions reflecting possible interactive effects of centralization and formalization.s.03* 0. For exploratory purposes and in anticipation of readers’ potential interest.01 Ϫ0.47* 1. although these relations were not hypothesized here.49 0.1 The prove orientation by central1 ization interaction was not significant.00 .18 .07 0.61 Ϫ1.92 623.24 Ϫ2.74. and avoid orientations.03 .05 281. t ϭ . .02 0.e. i. and 2c predict that formalization moderates the relation between creativity and learning. These results support Hypothesis 1a. prove.15 584. Therefore. 2b. 2006). 2003.03 .02 Ϫ0. Hirst et al.20. prove. The interaction of the avoid orientation and centralization was significant (␥ ϭ –.35 0. These results support Hypothesis 1c.03 Ϫ0. ␤ ϭ .06* 0.09* 78.09 Ϫ0.12. p Ͻ .62* 3.01 .13* Ϫ1. see Figure 1B).05 .04 .).70* 2. c R2total ϭ R2within-group ϫ (I Ϫ ICC1) ϩ R2between-groups ϫ ICC1.01. t ϭ .03 . level 2 between-team variance and cross-level interactions. and avoid orientations. * p Ͻ . 2009) and predictors of employee creativity (Baer & Oldham.33 304.01.

s.01) and nonsignificant when it was high (␤ ϭ –. p Ͻ . t ϭ 0. n.10. t ϭ 1. p Ͻ . yet a desire for control and behavioral regulation may inspire centralized decision making and formal- . These results support Hypothesis 2b. n.42. van Knippenberg. DISCUSSION Managers face the challenge of getting creative results from the individuals in their teams.). These results support Hypothesis 2c.).06.2011 Hirst.s.5 Low High Learning Orientation (1B) Interaction of Centralization and Avoid Orientation Predicting Creativity 5 4.14. p Ͻ .87.05. and Sacramento 635 FIGURE 1 Interactions for Centralization (1A) Interaction of Centralization and Learning Orientation Predicting Creativity 5 4. see Figure 2A). The slope was positive and significant when formalization was low (␤ ϭ . the learning orientation by formalization interaction was not significant.11.08. The slope was significant and negative when formalization was low (␤ ϭ –. Chen. The interaction of a prove orientation and formalization was significant (␥ ϭ –.5 Low High Avoid Orientation supporting Hypothesis 2a.03.00. t ϭ 3. The interaction of the avoid orientation and formalization was significant (␥ ϭ . t ϭ 2.5 Employee Creativity High centralization Low centralization 4 3.5 Employee Creativity 4 3. p Ͻ .05.03.01) and negative and nonsignificant when it was high (␤ ϭ –. see Figure 2B).

Our findings confirm that team bureaucracy can suppress the expression of individual differences that may engender creativity. and a prove orientation was positively related to creativity only when formalization was low.5 Low High Prove Orientation (2B) Interaction of Formalization and Avoid Orientation Predicting Creativity 5 4.636 Academy of Management Journal June FIGURE 2 Interactions for Formalization (2A) Interaction of Formalization and Prove Orientation Predicting Creativity 5 4.. 1996.5 Low High Avoid Orientation ization of rules and procedures. findings for the avoid orientation by formalization interaction provide an important caveat: less formalized practices were associated with a more negative relation- ship between an avoid orientation and creativity. A learning orientation was positively related to creativity only under conditions of low centralization. Although the evidence would seem to favor lower bureaucracy for engendering creativity. low centralization attenuated the negative association between an avoid orientation and creativity. These findings illustrate that different goal orientations produce different creative responses to a given context and suggest the promise of personin-situation perspectives for understanding team bureaucratic influences. 2004). Theoretical Implications Although it is well established that both individual differences and context play an important role in the creative process (Amabile. Shalley et al.5 Employee Creativity 4 3. Goal orientations are of particular .5 Employee Creativity 4 High formalization Low formalization 3. person-in-situation approaches that account for their interactive influences are still in development. Moreover.

This could reflect fundamental differences between creativity and inrole performance that render creativity— or at least the expression of individual differences in creativity—inherently more contingent on contextual influences. Decentralized decision making helped attenuate the negative relationship between the avoid orientation and creativity. Brown. these individual dispositions provide insight as to why different people respond so differently to the same bureaucratic experiences. the absence of learning orientation by formalization and prove orientation by centralization interactions). Hall. individual differences should be considered as important moderators of the effectiveness of organizational practices. given their strong links with behavior in achievement situations and reviews highlighting the need to examine goal orientations as they unfold dynamically in context (Button et al. but low formalization actually brought out this relationship. These findings are important in suggesting that the influence of a situation on the creative expression of dispositions should be understood not only in terms of the extent to which the situation provides cues that may activate the expression of traits. It is less clear why. Caruana et al. for learning-oriented people. we recognize that an earlier two-factor conceptualization grouped the prove and avoid orientations under a general performance orientation construct (Button et al.e. & Slocum. Our framework (cf. An important issue to take into account in this respect is that the present findings for centralization show that the exact same contextual cue may activate one trait while inhibiting another.. 2005). it is interesting to note that main effects of goal orientations for in-role task performance have been more consistently documented (Porath & Bateman. it would hold for low formalization but not for low centralization. this relationship holds for low centralization but not low formalization. For research in creativity. van Knippenberg. no common definition or set of measures of goal orientation exists (DeShon & Gillespie. 1998. 1999). Future research that combines the study of creativity and in-role performance may be highly worthwhile as a way to shed more light on this issue.. As the evidence for the contingent nature of the goal orientation– creativity relationship amasses. We have pointed out that the available evidence for goal orientation– creativity relationships suggests that these should be expected to manifest not as main effects. 1997) relies on a three-dimensional conceptualization (Seijts et al. 1996. Our findings may also provide important pointers for identifying further ways to manage the undesirable outcomes of an avoid orientation (Dweck. and Sacramento 637 interest in this respect. We are hesitant to base conclusions on null findings (i. the findings for team bureaucracy are important in that they show that the creativity of those motivated to engage with work challenges (i. In other words. a model that incorporates both traitactivating and trait-inhibiting influences. but also in terms of the extent to which it constrains individuals’ behavior and thus inhibits the expression of individual differences. 1999. .. (2009) demonstrating that team contextual influences may stimulate the creative expression of goal orientations. 1999). the pattern of results is more complex for the avoid orientation and bureaucracy. 2008.. Only the avoid orientation had a main effect. learning. 1999).2011 Hirst. the obvious challenge for creativity research is to identify specific trait-context combinations that are relevant to creativity. The present findings by and large corroborate this analysis. Stevens & Gist. This argument suggests the contours of a more comprehensive model of team contextual influences on the relationship between individual differences and creativity. Chen. VandeWalle. The systematic development of the goal orientation literature has been hampered by differing conceptualizations of the construct and the wide array of scales in use.e. 1997).and prove-oriented individuals) benefits from low bureaucracy. 1997) that partitions performance orientation into its prove and avoid components. 2004. This in turn sheds light on how to develop more constructive solutions to the tension between managerial control and innovation. 2003). VandeWalle. Although this is the most widely accepted conceptualization of goal orientation. 1996. Findings for team bureaucracy also speak to the value of taking lower levels of analyses into account than is typically done in research on bureaucracy and related governance issues (Bolin & Ha ¨ renstam. the learning and prove orientations did not. Consistently with predictions. Elliot & Church. DeShon & Gillespie. moreover. Encouraging avoid-oriented individuals to participate makes it more likely that they will overcome their disposition to avoid job challenges. that this inhibition is not necessarily bad for creativity. As we outlined in the introduction.. 1996. Cron. 2005). Although such a model is clearly consistent with trait activation theory (Tett & Burnett. the present study shows that the team context may inhibit as well as stimulate the link between goal orientations and creativity—and. but rather. as contingent on contextual influences. whereas for prove-oriented individuals. Elliot.. this can be seen as reflecting an important difference between the active and engaging nature of low centralization as compared with the passive nature of low formalization. In an important counterpoint to earlier work by Hirst et al. To reconcile the tension between bureaucracy and creativity.

our findings clearly testify to the validity and “value-added” of the distinction between prove and avoid performance orientations. To get creative results. Research examining both outcomes would help explain whether different antecedents are required to stimulate them and thus would allow tests of the generalizability of different theoretical frameworks. even when it does little for prove-oriented individuals. all other things . An avoid orientation brings few creative benefits. CFA showed that these represent two distinct factors. to let learning-oriented and prove-oriented individuals flourish. although both reflecting low bureaucracy. It is possible that situations of low centralization and low formalization. Thus. Extending the current framework. it is not negatively related to creativity. so the combination of individual disposition and bureaucratic context yields the most desirable associations with creativity. Accordingly. we suggest that a culture such as Taiwan. Limitations and Directions for Future Research We tested how individuals responded to a bureaucratic context but did not test the mediating processes underpinning these relationships. Whereas learning-oriented individuals may respond to challenges and opportunities for learning and further development. from a creativity perspective. such as the correlations between learning orientation and creativity observed in the current study (r ϭ .. CFA demonstrated that these are distinct factors. and relationships with creativity also diverged. 1999). the goal orientation framework suggests that different goal orientations lead individuals to respond to different aspects of the same situation. are consistent with Harrison. r ϭ . formalization cannot be tailored to individual team members. may be more likely to invite the expression of an avoid orientation at the expense of creativity.09 –. and relationships with creativity clearly diverge for prove and avoid orientations.30.. managers should seek to understand employees’ motivational orientation in context. Neff. 2008). Given its very nature. low formalization actually brings out undesirable tendencies in avoid-oriented team members. Although the creativity of prove-oriented individuals thrives in less formalized contexts. (2009. mean r ϭ . for learning-oriented individuals. That is. in contrast. while creating a team context characterized by high levels of decentralized decision making and low formalization. activities mandated in an employee’s position description and work designation). Formalized practices are a more complex issue. Avoidoriented individuals. Elliot. differ in the eyes of learning-oriented and prove-oriented individuals as to the key triggers of their motivational drives (e. decentralized decision making is attractive.17). Managerial Implications Bureaucratic practices often hinder managers’ efforts to facilitate individual initiative and creativity (Bolin & Ha ¨ renstam. Yet one can speculate as to how cultural values may also influence the predicted relationships. and Zhao’s (2006) results in a meta-analysis of EuropeanAmerican research (range of r ϭ . Schwall. We highlight this is as a much-needed area for future work. We note that on similar grounds. We examined antecedents of employee creativity and did not test whether these effects generalized to in-role performance (i.20).g. Future research tapping perceptions of situations along those lines as potentially mediating processes may further validate the current cross-level perspective on individual creativity. In this respect. decentralization may be more associated than low formalization with learning opportunities). characterized by higher uncertainty avoidance than the United States. our findings also speak against grouping learning and prove orientations under a more general “approach motivation” construct (cf.e. which is derived from European-American values. but achieving such an absence of association relies on formalizing procedures at the expense of the creative benefits of a prove orientation. The current three-dimensional goal orientation framework thus can be seen as providing the most valid basis for the interpretation of our results. At best. and these findings rather speak to the issue of selection and person-environment fit. Decentralization brings out the best in learning-oriented employees and attenuates the negative effects of an avoid orientation on creativity. Results for East Asian samples.638 Academy of Management Journal June In this respect. as creativity and performance researchers have studied similar constructs but conducted few comparisons between the two. seem more driven by cues highlighting the safety or potential risks associated with engaging in certain actions in terms of how others will assess their performance.11) and by Gong et al. It may also provide important information for interpreting our less expected findings. prove-oriented individuals may respond primarily to cues that identify opportunities to display their competence. We also suggest there is a need to understand how cultural values impinge on the utility of goal orientation theory. the conclusion would be that creativity is best obtained by (where possible) not selecting avoid-oriented individuals for a team. such as the absences of a learning orientation by formalization interaction and of a prove orientation by centralization one.

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