Leadership, Creativity & Innovation: Motivation and creativity

Leadership, Creativity & Innovation: 




While identifying different factors related to creativity, researchers integrated a number of theories from social psychology to provide well-grounded knowledge to explain the environment in which employees are likely to behave creatively (Tierney, Farmer & Grean, 1999; Zhou, 2003; Scott & Bruce, 1994).  


As mentioned above in this work the focus was on those theoretical perspectives that relate to the factors that we investigate: (1) self-efficacy, (2) supervisor developmental feedback, and (3) intrinsic motivation.





According to Bandura’s self-efficacy theory, self-efficacy beliefs are defined as ‘’people’s judgments of their capabilities to organize and execute courses of action required to attain designated types of performance, are all of the thoughts that affect human functioning and standing atthe very core of social cognitive theory’’ (Bandura, 1986). Accordingly, unless people believe that their actions can produce the outcomes they desire, they have little incentive to act or to persevere in the face of difficulties.

As Bandura (1997) cited, strong self-efficacy as a necessary condition for creative productivity and the discovery of ‘’new knowledge .‘’ Because  self-efficacy views influence the motivation and ability to engage in specific behavior (Bandura, 1977), as well as the pursuit of certain tasks (Bandura, 1986).

Self-efficacy beliefs, being at a very core of human activities, are considered a strong source of personal initiative and persistence (reference) and closely related to the employees’ aim to develop and achieve a desired task results (Amabile, 1988). Those beliefs of self-efficacy help determine how much effort people will expend on a performance, how long they will persevere when confronting obstacles, and how resilient they will be in the face of adverse situations. Accordingly, people with a strong sense of personal competence approach difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered rather than as threats to be avoided. Such people have greater intrinsic interest and deep engrossments in activities, set themselves challenging goals and maintain strong commitment to them, and heighten and sustain their efforts in the face of failure.  They recover more quickly their sense of efficacy after failures or setbacks, and attribute failure to insufficient effort or deficient knowledge and skills that are acquirable (Bandura,1986). 

In a work environment a high sense of self-efficacy can be crucial for performance: it may have the same mechanisms: the higher the sense of efficacy of employee, the grater the effort and persistence to achieve the results. Thus, we argue that in the work environment employees’ self efficacy beliefs will play a significant role on pursuing desired outcomes. Employees with high level of self-efficacy will show more interest and perseverance on reaching the designated level of performance. Apparently, it will be one of the main requisites to develop creative performance. 






The first theories to address the nature of the motivation underlying creativity came primarily from the psychodynamic tradition. Freud suggested that similar to the role that play serves for children, creative activity allows adults to work through conflict and provides the opportunity to imbue a fantasy world with emotional content. Other psychodynamic theorists have suggested that creativity may be motivated by the need to atone for unconscious aggressive or destructive impulses (e.g. Fairbain, 1938; Segal, Shape, 1930, 1950; Stokes, 1963) in Sternberg, (1999, p. 297).

A number of early expressions of these ideas about motivation were made by theorists who argued that creativity could occur only in the absence of external regulation. One of the first of these was Carl Rogers (1954), who believed that creativity was motivated by people’s self-actualizing tendencies, the drive to fulfill their potential. Rogers thought that the drive for self-actualization was present in everyone, but in order for it to be fully expressed in creative achievement, certain conditions must hold. In particular, Rogers stressed that creativity must occur in a context ofself-evaluation rather than being driven by a concern with being evaluated by others. Thus, creative individuals must value their own internal assessment of their work, a condition that is most likely to emerge in an environment characterized by the absence of external evaluation and the presence of freedom. The importance of freedom from control was also noted by Kostler (1964), who believed such freedom necessary for a person to achieve the unconscious, playful forms of thought that he argued produced creative insights.    


Humanistic ideas similar to Rogers’s were articulated by Maslow (1943, 1959, 1968). He emphasized that self- actualized creativity  was not motivated by  a desire for achievement and was also not the result of ‘’working through repressive control of forbidden impulses and wishes’’ ((1968, p.144) as the psychodynamic tradition argued.

Instead, he described self- actualized creativity as the spontaneous expression of the person whose more basic needs have been satisfied.  He believed that people who possess a special talent may be creative without having self-actualization. 

Still other early theorists contended that a crucial part of creativity was a deep love for and enjoyment of the tasks undertaken (Bruner, 1962; Henle, 1962, Torrance, 1962; see also Torrance, 1995) in Sternberg, (1999, p. 297).  Golann (1962) recognized the importance of deep involvement with the task when he described creativity as motivated by a desire to interact fully with the environment in order to achieve one’s ‘’fullest perceptual, cognitive, and expressive potentials’’ (p.509).       




For almost five decades two distinct types of motivation have been of interest to researchers in psychology: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation (Deci & Ryan, 2000, Vallerand, 1997).  

Intrinsic motivation was studied as early as the 1950s, but the construct became prominent due to the work by Deci (1975) and Deci and Ryan (1985). 

These authors first offered Self-Determination theory. At the heart of their theory is the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation refers to the motivational state in which an individual is attracted in his work in itself, not due to any external outcomes that might result from task engagement (Deci & Ryan, 1985). While, motivations deriving from external pressures or constraints are considered to be extrinsic motivation. Over five decades of research in this area 

suggests that the quality of task experience and performance can be very different when one is behaving for intrinsic versus extrinsic reasons (Ryan & Deci, 2000).

More recently, Dewett (2007) has related intrinsic motivation to creativity According to this author intrinsic motivation would be conductive to creativity, while, controlling extrinsic motivation is detrimental to creativity, but informational or enabling extrinsic motivation can be conductive, particularly if initial levels of intrinsic motivation are high.

Amabile and Woodman (1988;1993) also recognized intrinsic motivation as a core characteristics for employee’ creativity. It is so vital to creativity that Amabile developed the ‘’Intrinsic motivation Principle of Creativity".

She notes that a necessary component of intrinsic motivation is the individual’s orientation or level of enthusiasm for the activity, because it affects an employee’s decision to initiate and sustain creative effort (Amabile, 1988).