When are strong or weak ties best for creativity and innovation? Considering the role of contextual moderators

Restricted (Penn State Only)
Mckay, Alexander Scott
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
May 31, 2018
Committee Members:
  • Susan Mohammed, Dissertation Advisor
  • Susan Mohammed, Committee Chair
  • Alicia Ann Grandey, Committee Member
  • Samuel Todd Hunter, Committee Member
  • Stephen Erik Humphrey, Outside Member
  • Creativity
  • Innovation
  • Network Strength
  • Social Networks
  • Creative Process
Creativity is becoming essential for organizational success in the 21st century. Yet navigating the creative process is difficult and arduous for employees. To generate and implement creative ideas, creators often get help from their social networks. However, the strength of one’s network relationships and its influence on creative performance likely depend on task/contextual factors that also influence whether creative ideas are subsequently implemented. The purpose of the current study was to examine how social and contextual factors interact across two creative process stages: information gathering to creativity and creativity to idea implementation. Drawing on threat rigidity theory and a similar framework on constraints on creativity, I argue that the information gathering network strength-creativity and creativity-idea implementation relationships are moderated by experienced creative time pressure and organizational support for innovation. Specifically, I argued that time pressure was a hindrance for creativity, but that it depended on organizational support. Additionally, I argued that time pressure was beneficial for idea implementation. Using an employee field sample, results supported some of the hypotheses. During the early stage, information gathering network strength was positively related to creativity when experienced creative time pressure was low and organizational support was high and was negatively related when experienced creative time pressure was high and organizational support was high. I also found that experienced creative time pressure moderated the creativity-idea implementation relationship and that organizational support moderated the relationship between time pressure and idea implementation. Implications for threat rigidity theory and the benefits of network strength with regard to the creative process and task/contextual factors are discussed.