Individual approaches to workplace tensions: implications for creativity and work engagement

Yan Shao

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

109 Downloads (Pure)


Contemporary organizations are rife with contradictions between competing goals, demands, perspectives, and interests. The tensions resulting from such contradictions can trigger stress, anxiety and ambivalence. How can employees constructively deal with the tug of war between contradictory goals, demands, perspectives, and interests that coexist in their work life? This dissertation views tensions not as a problem, but as an opportunity that enables individuals to learn, create and engage. Specifically, this dissertation offers new insights regarding how employees approach tensions that arise from competing work demands and goals, and tensions that arise from conflicts between coworkers. Chapters 2 and 3 focused on intrapersonal tension in the domain of creativity, with Chapter 2 examining how individual factors are associated with the pursuit of one-sided creative solutions, and Chapter 3 investigating when and how leaders and employees can jointly manage tensions arising from workload pressure to achieve better creative performance. Chapter 4 studied relationship conflict as a form of interpersonal tension, suggesting a new way to counteract its negative implications to stay engaged. Taken together, this dissertation advances current understanding of managing tensions at the micro-level and contributes to paradox theory by identifying new boundary conditions that contextualize benefits and costs associated with tensions and paradoxes. I hope this dissertation will serve as a building block for future research on workplace tensions, complementing the traditional view on tensions as negative with one showing how employees and leaders can thrive and progress in tensions.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Nijstad, Bernard, Supervisor
  • Täuber, Susanne, Co-supervisor
  • Janssen, Onne, Assessment committee
  • Wisse, Barbara, Assessment committee
  • Den Hartog, Deanne N., Assessment committee, External person
Award date15-Oct-2020
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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