Connecting and creating: tertius iungens, individual creativity, and strategic decision processes

Olli-Pekka Kauppila, Lorenzo Bizzi, David Obstfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Research Summary: In contrast to previous research that emphasized macro-to-macro relationships, this study investigates how strategic decision characteristics shape the creative process at the organizational micro-level. Whereas individual creativity thrives on novel combinations of diverse knowledge and perspectives, we argue that the characteristics of strategic decisions influence the extent to which employees’ combinatory activities enhance their creativity. Multilevel modeling results based on 638 employees from 34 organizations show that the positive relationship between tertius iungens (TI) orientation and creative performance is reinforced by strategic decision comprehensiveness, especially when coupled with low strategic decision speed. The results suggest that, paradoxically, when top managers consider a narrower range of options and act more quickly to respond to challenges in the external environment, they risk constraining creative processes within the organization.

Managerial Summary: To innovate, managers are often advised to make strategic decisions based on changes in their external business environment. Our research suggests that managers should also consider how strategic decision-making enables the social processes through which employees generate creative ideas essential to organizational innovation. Our results show that employees who bring people in their network and their diverse ideas together (i.e., the tertius iungens [TI] orientation) tend to improve creative performance. However, for those employees is it easier to develop creative ideas when strategic decisions are comprehensive and slow? Paradoxically, when top managers consider a narrower range of options and act more quickly to respond to challenges in the external environment, they risk constraining the social processes that lead to creativity within the organization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)697–719
JournalStrategic Management Journal
Volume39
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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