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Keywords:

  • creativity;
  • leader–member exchange;
  • effectiveness;
  • sales

Summary

This study extends research on creativity by exploring the boundary conditions of the creativity–job effectiveness relationship. Building on social exchange theory, we argue that the extent to which employee creativity is related to sales—an objective work effectiveness measure—depends on the quality of leader–member exchange (LMX). We hypothesize that the relationship between creativity and sales is significant and positive when LMX is high, but not when LMX is low. Hierarchical linear modelling analysis provided support for the interaction hypothesis in a sample of 151 sales agents and 26 supervisors drawn from both pharmaceutical and insurance companies. Results showed that sales agents who were more creative generated higher sales only when they had high-quality LMX. An ad hoc qualitative study provided a more detailed understanding of the moderator role played by LMX. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.