To be (creative), or not to be (creative)? A sensemaking perspective to creative role expectations

Ye Liu*, Tim Vriend, Onne Janssen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
163 Downloads (Pure)


By combining organizational role theory with core features of the sensemaking perspective of creativity, we propose conditional indirect relationships between creative role expectations and employee incremental and radical creativity that are mediated by creative self-expectations and moderated by perceived necessity for performance improvement and creative cognitive style. We find empirical evidence for our hypothesized effects across two studies. First, in a field study using data collected from 325 supervisor–employee dyads in an academic institution in China, we find that creative role expectations are positively related to creative self-expectations and that perceived necessity for performance improvement strengthens this positive relationship. Furthermore, we find that creative self-expectations directly relate to incremental creativity, but that creative cognitive style is a necessary boundary condition under which such self-expectations relate to radical creativity. Second, the results of an additional survey study among 201 US employees suggest that the psychological process through which employees internalize external role expectations for creativity into their self-expectations for creativity is primarily driven by the satisfaction of basic needs for competence. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139–153
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Business and Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date10-Dec-2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2021

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