Diversity and Creativity: In search of synergy



This dissertation investigates the conditions and processes that enable teams to develop more creative solutions and optimally use their informational resources for higher creativity. Whereas teams, especially those composed of members with different task-relevant information and perspectives are considered a particularly viable means to the end of higher creativity, systematic research on the factors that facilitate team creativity and the processes conducive to it is sparse and its findings remain fragmented to date.
The three empirical studies included in this dissertation contribute to a more complete understanding of how teams achieve creative outcomes by addressing different aspects of this question. Our findings highlight that other-focused behaviors such as perspective taking and mutual feedback between team members represent important mechanisms to bring out the potential of team diversity for team creativity. Furthermore, on the basis of an in-depth behavioral observation of the teams throughout their creative process, we are able to develop a more nuanced understanding of the processes that underlie these observed effects. This analysis yields converging evidence for the importance of information elaboration as a precursor of higher creativity in diverse teams but not for other processes frequently suggested to transmit the benefits of diversity when they occur. Finally, the reported research points to the differential impact of formal external interventions in shaping team processes and information processing mechanisms in teams with diverse informational resources.
Together, the reported research has important implications for future work on team creativity, diversity, and team processes. With regards to team creativity and diversity the results call into question the straightforward nature of the frequently proposed link between diversity and creativity and highlight a number of important moderators of this effect. Moreover, the findings indicate that the relationship between creativity and its antecedents at the team level do not fully mirror the effects observed at the individual level of analysis. Finally, they direct attention to the need to systematically investigate the extent to which diverse and homogeneous teams react differently to common managerial interventions such as feedback.
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Marisa van Iperen