Context for Creativity: Leader-Follower Fit and the Creative Process

Restricted (Penn State Only)
Gutworth, Melissa Beth
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
February 03, 2017
Committee Members:
  • Samuel Hunter, Dissertation Advisor
  • Samuel Hunter, Committee Chair
  • James LeBreton, Committee Member
  • Susan Mohammed, Committee Member
  • Linda K. Treviño, Outside Member
  • creativity
  • leadership
  • mindsets
  • fit
Although creativity is increasingly recognized as beneficial for organizations, most companies report that innovation efforts fail, leading to lost money, time, and productivity. The context surrounding individual creativity plays a large role in shaping creative processes. Leadership, as a specific aspect of context, may be the key to the innovation puzzle but recommendations for leaders seeking to improve creativity in followers are inconsistent. This study seeks to clarify the effect of leaders on follower creativity by examining the fit between cognitive mindsets of leaders and followers and across the different stages of creativity. Two studies were conducted to test our hypotheses. Results from a laboratory study and a field survey indicate that having leaders and followers with different mindset types is most beneficial for idea generation and idea evaluation stages of creativity. Additionally, followers with a more abstract mindset may be better able to implement creative ideas. Implication for practice and future research are discussed.