Article Review: Creativity in Teams

Article Review: Creativity in Teams

Paper details:
we focus on the subject of culture as it applies to the organizational itself and the team within the organization. We examine the impact that culture has on team people and their performance. We also study the topic of virtual teams and examine the challenges of leading and being part of such team

West has presented a comprehensive and useful perspective on innovation
in teams. He has been a pioneer in this area and has conducted a number
of  compelling  research  projects.  His  integrative  model  nicely  incorporates
the  relevant  findings  from  a  broad  range  of  studies  on  groups  and  teams.
The  model  provides  a  sound  foundation  for  future  research  and  cautious
practice.  In  this  commentary  I  suggest  some  alternative  perspectives  and
hypotheses about innovation in groups. It is hoped that this will stimulate
further creativity and innovation in this newly developing domain of study.
In his paper West (this issue) makes two general proposals. One is that
creativity  (idea  generation)  takes  place  largely  in  the  earlier  phases  of  the
innovation  process  while  the  implementation  of  the  innovation  generally
occurs later. This of course makes a lot of sense since there is not much to
implement if one does not have some good ideas. The other major proposal
is  that  external  demands  and  uncertainty  may  inhibit  creativity  but  can
enhance  innovation.  West  provides  some  reasonable  support  for  this  sup-
position. Certainly, much work suggests that external pressures or demands
may decrease the intrinsic motivation that may be critical for creativity or
generation of ideas (Amabile, 1996). That external demands or uncertainty
should facilitate innovation (or implementation of ideas) is consistent with
the  common  saying  “necessity  is  the  mother  of  invention”  derived  from
Plato  (1966).  West  makes  a  compelling  argument  that  with  high  external
demands and uncertainty it will be easier to overcome the many factors of
resistance to change in organisations or groups. The model presented of the
factors that influence creativity and innovation is a useful guideline for both
practitioners  and  theoreticians  and  has  some  foundation  in  the  relevant
literature on groups and teams. There is much that I admire about the paper
and the proposed model. However, in the spirit of creativity I will focus this
* Address for correspondence: Department of Psychology, Box 19528, University of Texas
at Arlington, Arlington, TX 76019, USA. Email: [email protected]
© International Association for Applied Psychology, 2002.
paper  on  some  areas  of  disagreement  in  the  hope  that  this  will  stimulate
more innovation than a focus on areas of agreement.
The idea generation/implementation sequence discussed by West is likely
to  be  a  fairly  dominant  one.  For  example,  in  experimental  and  organised
innovation, groups or teams typically come together to generate solutions
and then are asked to implement them. However, in more naturalistic situ-
ations the process may be fairly recursive, with a continual cycle of genera-
tion and implementation. Often it may be problems in the implementation
stage  that  provide  the  stimulus  for  the  generation  of  some  new  or  better
solutions.  Does  the  sequence  actually  make  a  difference?  There  are  some
reasons to think that it may.
First, it is often suggested that idea generation should occur in a noneval-
uative context (Osborn, 1957), whereas implementation inevitably involves
evaluation of alternatives. So these phases should be separated. Moreover,
if  an  implementation/decision  phase  precedes  the  creativity  phase,  the
evaluative perspective of the implementation session may carry over. That is,
if  a  group  has  discovered  that  a  particular  idea  does  not  work,  it  has  an
evaluative basis for looking for a new idea. It certainly should be different
from  the  solution  that  did  not  work.  It  may  also  be  looking  for  the  first
better idea that is worth a try. However, this evaluative focus may hinder
the extent to which the group engages in divergent thinking. Presumably, the
more new ideas one generates the better (Osborn, 1957), and in fact more
ideas lead to an increased number of better ideas (Diehl & Stroebe, 1987).
So  the  sequence  of  generation/implementation  outlined  by  West  may  in
fact be the optimal one. However, this may be difficult to structure in the
typical work life of teams. It may be necessary for teams to take periodic
retreats where they brainstorm ideas independent of the needs suggested by
various implementation problems. It may also be important to take breaks
in  the  generation/implementation  process.  It  may  take  some  time  to  fully
process all of the ideas exchanged (Csikszentmihalyi & Sawyer, 1995; Paulus,
Larey, & Dzindolet, 2001). These breaks are typically a natural process in
the types of teams studied by West and his colleagues in which idea gener-
ation takes place over a series of sessions. However, in orchestrated sessions
where  an  implementation  phase  follows  closely  upon  the  ideation  phase,
such an incubation process may not be fostered.
An  alternative  perspective  is  that  generation  sessions  that  follow  failed
efforts at implementation may be optimal. A failure experience may make
evident the need for a reassessment and may provide added motivation for
the creation of new ideas. Some of the writing on creativity has emphasised
the need for “unfreezing” from dominant or old perspectives (Ward, Smith,
& Finke, 1999).
The focus of the article is on group level processes. Yet there are many
other scenarios for the innovation process. Much creativity and innovation
© International Association for Applied Psychology, 2002.
in organisations occurs at the level of individuals. That is, a solitary indi-
vidual  may  be  assigned  to  come  up  with  solutions  to  a  problem.  These
solutions may then be presented to a supervisor who can select one of them
to  implement.  Alternatively,  the  ideas  generated  by  an  individual  may  be
evaluated  by  a  management  team  or  ideas  generated  by  a  team  may  be
evaluated and implemented by a supervisor. Unfortunately, we do not know
which of these various sequences is optimal. Much of the groups literature
suggests that ideas should be generated by individuals working in isolation
and  these  ideas  should  then  be  evaluated  by  a  group  for  implementation
(Larey  &  Paulus,  1999).  It  might  be  best  if  the  implementation  group  did
not include any of the idea generators so as to limit biases in favor of self-
generated ideas. Alternatively, a benefit of individuals making decisions on
ideas they have generated is that there may be an increased commitment
to the implementation of the ideas. This represents the most participatory
approach in which individuals are given a choice about implementation of
their own ideas. This may heighten morale and motivation.
Although there may be much to recommend the procedure of individual
generation and group evaluation, the research basis for it is actually still a
bit weak. Recent evidence suggests that idea generation in groups can be quite
effective under certain conditions (writing, computer exchange, facilitators;
Paulus, Dugosh, Dzindolet, Coskun, & Putman, in press), so it may not be
necessary  to  have  solitary  idea  generation  sessions.  Futhermore,  research
thus far is not clear on the effectiveness of groups in selecting the optimal
solution  (Kerr,  MacCoun,  &  Kramer,  1996).  Much  literature  has  focused
on  the  premature  consensus  or  groupthink  process  (Janis  &  Mann,  1977;
Paulus, 1998). Groups that are under pressure often make decisions without
careful  evaluation  of  all  alternatives.  Similarly,  groups  tend  not  to  share
fully  the  information  available  in  the  decision  making  or  implementation
phase  (Stasser,  1999).  So  one  could  also  make  a  reasonable  case  for  a
procedure that involves group generation of ideas and individual selection
of the best ones by outside experts working independently.
West  proposes  that  external  demands  and  uncertainty  are  good  for  the
implementation  stage  because  they  provide  extra  motivation  to  overcome
the  resistance  and  conflict  that  may  be  involved  in  implementing  novel
procedures. Uncertainty, time constraints, competition, and environmental
challenges  are  cited  as  types  of  external  demands  that  may  provide  such
motivation.  It  is  recognised  that  too  much  demand  may  be  counterpro-
ductive  since  this  may  induce  a  sense  of  helplessness.  This  rather  positive
perspective on the benefits of external demands contrasts with evidence that
external  threats  may  often  inhibit  group  effectiveness  (Turner  &  Horvitz,
2001). Turner and Horvitz define threat as “an external circumstance that
involves  potential  loss  for  the  group”  (p.  446).  They  cite  uncertainty  and
time  pressures  as  examples,  so  one  could  consider  their  perspective  quite
© International Association for Applied Psychology, 2002.
relevant to the external demands one of West. Turner and Horvitz (2001)
note  that  there  is  little  evidence  that  moderate  levels  of  external  threat
enhance performance while too much threat is inhibitory. They do cite evid-
ence  that  threat  can  have  both  positive  and  negative  effects  on  group
functioning, but the basis for the facilitative effects are often not clear. In
general,  it  appears  that  external  demands  or  threats  can  take  up  valuable
attentional  capacity  which  will  hinder  effective  decision  making.  For
example,  time  pressure  has  been  associated  with  both  poorer  judgment
(Kruglanksi & Freund, 1983) and reduced production of creative products
(Kelly & McGrath, 1985). External demands or threats can also be related
to  more  rigidity  in  group  interaction  and  information  processing  (Staw,
Sandelands,  &  Dutton,  1981).  The  literature  on  groupthink  also  suggests
external pressure may lead to premature selection of nonoptimal solutions
(Paulus, 1998). Turner and Horvitz (2001) point out that groups may deal
with  external  threats  by  self-handicapping  (setting  up  circumstances  that
provide excuses for failure, Snyder, 1990) instead of increased motivation.
One important factor in the impact of external threat on group performance
and decision making may be the types of cues that are implicit in the threats
or  demands  (Turner  &  Horvitz,  2001).  When  the  cues  emphasise  speed,
decision making may be superficial. When quality is emphasised, the groups
may be motivated to generate high quality solutions (Bartis, Szymanski, &
Harkins, 1988).
West cites evidence that team reflexivity (reflectiveness and adaptiveness)
and an appropriate set of knowledge, skills, and abilities will enhance team
performance and innovation. Yet it remains to be seen to what extent these
characteristics  enable  groups  to  overcome  both  the  problems  groups  en-
counter in the generation phase and the implementation phase in comparison
to solitary generation and implementation conditions. It may be necessary
to  provide  clear  guidelines  and  structure  to  enable  the  group  to  function
effectively under high demand conditions (Turner & Horvitz, 2001).
Although external pressure and uncertainty are deemed to be inimical to
the  creation  of  ideas,  one  could  make  the  opposite  prediction.  It  appears
that  under  certain  conditions  external  pressures  or  rewards  can  combine
with  intrinsic  rewards  to  enhance  creativity  (Amabile,  Hill,  Hennessey,  &
Tighe, 1994). In addition, much of the creativity literature suggests that high
standards or goals are important in motivating both individual and group
creativity (Ochse, 1990; Paulus & Dzindolet, 1993). Highly creative groups
and  individuals  are  generally  “driven”  by  both  internal  and  external  re-
wards. For example, most of us scholars are probably motivated both by our
intrinsic interest in our discipline and the external rewards (acclaim, raises,
grants) that result from success in our discipline.
The article points out that teams can be a basis for excellence or stagna-
tion. Much of the literature on teams has consisted of zealous support and
© International Association for Applied Psychology, 2002.
promotion of teamwork (Locke, Tirnauer, Roberson, Goldman, Latham, &
Weldon,  2001).  Many  organisations  have  jumped  on  the  teamwork  band-
wagon, and it can be said that teamwork certainly was the fad of the 1990s.
West  points  out  the  factors  that  will  enhance  teamwork  in  the  innovative
domain. However, it should be clear that most of the research on teams has not
been particularly definitive about its utility (Locke et al., 2001; Paulus, 2000).
Teamwork  implementation  in  organisations  is  typically  accompanied  by
changes in other factors such as management and compensation practices.
So it is often not clear to what extent team or group participation is respon-
sible for positive changes noted. Moreover, the costs of implementation and
training may outweigh the benefits. There is also a tendency for individuals
to have favorable perceptions about their effectiveness in groups that are not
consistent with actual performance (Paulus, 2000). Unfortunately, most studies
of teamwork have relied on subjective reports instead of objective perform-
ance data. Controlled research is required both in laboratory and field situa-
tions to test the types of ideas suggested by West and in this
for both subjective perceptions and objective measures of innovation.
Amabile, T.M. (1996).
Creativity in context
. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Amabile, T.M., Hill, K.G., Hennessey, B.A., & Tighe, E.M. (1994). The work prefer-
ence inventory: Assessing intrinsic and extrinsic motivational orientations.
of Personality and Social Psychology
, 950–967.
Bartis, S., Szymanski, K., & Harkins, S.G. (1988). Evaluation and performance: A
two-edged knife.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
, 242–251.
Csikszentmihalyi, M., & Sawyer, K. (1995). Creative insight: The social dimension
of  a  solitary  moment.  In  R.J.  Sternberg  &  J.E.  Davidson  (Eds.),
The nature of
(pp. 329–363). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Diehl,  M.,  &  Stroebe,  W.  (1987).  Productivity  loss  in  brainstorming  groups:
Toward the solution of a riddle.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
, 497–509.
Janis, I., & Mann, L. (1977).
Decision making: A psychological analysis of conflict,
choice, and commitment
. New York: Free Press.
Kelly,  J.R.,  &  McGrath,  J.E.  (1985).  Effects  of  time  limits  and  task  types  on  per-
formance in interaction in four person groups.
Journal of Personality and Social
, 395–407.
Kerr, N.L., MacCoun, R.J., & Kramer, G.P. (1996). Bias in judgment: Comparing
individuals and groups.
Psychological Review
, 687–719.
Kruglanski, A., & Freund, T. (1983). The freezing and unfreezing of lay-inferences:
Effects  on  impressional  primacy,  ethnic  stereotyping  and  numerical  anchoring.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
, 448–468.
Larey, T.S., & Paulus, P.B. (1999). Group preference and convergent tendencies in
small groups: A content analysis of group brainstorming performance.
Research Journal
, 175–184.
© International Association for Applied Psychology, 2002.
Locke, E.A., Tirnauer, D., Roberson, Q., Goldman, B., Latham, M.E., & Weldon,
E. (2001). The importance of the individual in an age of groupism. In M. Turner
Groups at work: Advances in theory and research
(pp. 501–528). Hillsdale,
NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Ochse, R. (1990).
Before the gates of excellence: The determinants of creative genius
New York: Cambridge University Press.
Osborn, A.F. (1957).
Applied imagination
. New York: Scribner.
Paulus,  P.B.  (1998).  Developing  consensus  about  groupthink  after  all  these  years.
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
, 362–374.
Paulus,  P.B.  (2000).  Groups,  teams  and  creativity:  The  creative  potential  of  idea
generating groups.
Applied Psychology: An International Review
, 237–262.
Paulus,  P.B.,  Dugosh,  K.L.,  Dzindolet,  M.T.,  Coskun,  H.,  &  Putman,  V.L.  (in
press). Social and cognitive influences in group brainstorming. Predicting produc-
tion gains and losses.
European Review of Social Psychology
Paulus, P.B., & Dzindolet, M.T. (1993). Social influence processes in group brain-
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
, 575–586.
Paulus, P.B., Larey, T.S., & Dzindolet, M.T. (2001). Creativity in groups and teams.
In M. Turner (Ed.),
Groups at work: Advances in theory and research
(pp. 319–
338). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Plato (1966).
Plato’s Republic
. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Snyder,  C.R.  (1990).  Self-handicapping  processes  and  sequelae.  In  R.L.  Higgins,
C.R.  Snyder,  &  S.  Berglas  (Eds.),
Self-handicapping:  The  paradox  that  isn’t
(pp. 107–150). New York: Plenum.
Stasser, G. (1999). The uncertain role of unshared information in collective choice.
In L. Thompson, J. Levine, & D. Messick (Eds.),
Shared knowledge in organiza-
(pp. 49–69). Mahweh, NJ: Erlbaum.
Staw,  B.,  Sandelands,  L.,  &  Dutton,  J.  (1981).  Threat-rigidity  effects  in  organiza-
tional behavior: A multi-level analysis.
Administrative Science Quarterly
, 501–
Turner, M.E., & Horvitz, T. (2001). The dilemma of threat: Group effectiveness and
ineffectiveness under adversity. In M. Turner (Ed.),
Groups at work: Advances in
theory and research
(pp. 445–470). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Ward, T.B., Smith, S.M., & Finke, R.A. (1999). Creative cognition. In R.J. Stern-
berg (Ed.),
Handbook of creativity
. New York: Cambridge University Press.
July 200251
000Original Article
Creativity and Innovation Implementation

Article Review Format/Rubric

Article Reference (10pts)
•    The review article should be from a reputable scholarly publication.  (5pts)
•    Place the article reference of at the top of your post, as in the example below:  (5pts)
Martins, L., Eddleston, K.A., &Veiga, J. F., (2002). Moderators of the relationship between work-family conflict and career satisfaction.Academy of Management Journal, 45, 399-409.
Summary (30pts)
•    The article should be summarized (using your own words) in two to three paragraphs and focusing on the author’s main points.What interested you about this article?  Why is the topic of the article important or useful to you?
•    In 2-3 paragraphs, explain how this article impacted your understanding of the research topic and how it compared to similar information gathered from your texts and/or other course material.  Cite sources.  (10pts)
•    Did this article reinforce or contradict the reading and discussion you have been exposed to thus far on this topic? Cite sources. (10pts)
Application (30pts)
•    In two to three paragraphs discuss how you will apply what you’ve learned from the article. (10pts)
•    Do you believe the article will change the way you approach a situation, project, or discussion related to this topic at work? (10pts)
Identify topic.
Demonstrate an understanding of the topic.
Apply the topic.
Cite sources.
Check APA formatting.

find the cost of your paper

This question has been answered.

Get Answer