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Background

  1. Top of page
  2. Background
  3. Possible topics
  4. Research methods
  5. Deadline and Submissions
  6. Contacts
  7. References

Today's dynamic business environment requires firms to constantly adapt in order to survive. As a result of continuously changing demands, organizations have to adjust and reorientate, innovate, and adopt new technologies. Creative ideas are at the root of invention and innovation (Woodman, Sawyer & Griffen, 1993; Amabile et al., 1996). Hence, leaders and managers espouse creativity as an important goal that must be nurtured and facilitated (Mueller, Melwani & Goncalo 2012). Nevertheless, organizing creativity in organizations remains somewhat enigmatic to scholars. Creative organizations are often associated with spaces characterized by freedom, autonomy, weak rules and few boundaries. For example, this is reflected in Google's workplace design, with the office as a playground in which self-expression is encouraged. However, most organizational actors still have to operate within the constraints and boundaries imposed by the organization. These constraints can easily be experienced as hampering the freedom and creativity of employees. Then again, constraints can also be perceived as challenging. They might entice employees to find a creative new way of circumventing obstacles and dealing with organizational impediments. For example, in an interview with Fast Company, one of Google's top managers states that ‘engineers thrive on constraints. They love to think their way out of that little box: “We know you said it was impossible, but we're going to do this, this, and that to get us there” ’ (Salter, 2008).

This paradoxical role of constraints for creativity (hampering versus enticing) calls for further elaboration and more research. Several promising avenues of study can be identified.

  • Firstly, more research is needed that refines our understanding of what constraints are, and how they affect creative behavior. Behavioural psychologists suggest that creative imagination seems to work best when one is confronted with explicitly understood constraints (Kamoche & Pina e Cunha, 2001; Kelly & Leggo, 2008). Studies in this line mainly refer to mental constraints, i.e. artificial constraints adopted as scaffolding to generate creativity. The workplace might pose constraints of a different nature, i.e. more practically oriented, such as workload pressure, budget limitations, or demands from other stakeholders inside and outside of the organization. Does the specific nature of constraints impact their effect on creativity? Do we need to distinguish between different types of constraints?
  • Secondly, more research is needed that explores the nature of the creative process itself. Existing studies typically regard creativity as an output variable, and do not take into account that creativity encompasses a process from initial idea to creative outcome. Several studies have shown that creativity can be viewed as a multistage process. Little is known about whether and how constraints differentially impact the various stages of the creative process. Furthermore, De Dreu, Baas, and Nijstad (2008) argue that creativity can be attained through flexible thought or through persistence. It is possible that constraints exert different effects on creativity depending on which cognitive strategy or pathway they use to attain creative outcomes.
  • A third avenue of further research is related to the idea that the concept of ‘creativity’ can be approached from different angles. There might be a difference between individuals feeling creative and actually being creative at the workplace. It would be valuable to engage in additional research that explores various aspects and interpretations of the creativity concept, and the role of constraints for each conceptualization.
  • Fourthly, studying overall creative behaviour of employees might be an imprecise and unfocused way of operationalizing a complex phenomenon like creativity. To really get a grasp of what is going on at the workplace scholars might need to look at the specific tasks that are required on the job. Tasks involving incremental improvements might ask for fewer (or other) constraints than tasks of a more radical nature. Alternative relevant categorisations of tasks might be the level of expertise that is needed to carry them out, or the extent to which a constraint limits only the creative capabilities/output of a certain individual or the creative capabilities/output of the entire organization. More studies are needed that explore the working of constraints on the task level.
  • Fifthly, an impressive body of research has indicated the importance of organizational factors that facilitate creativity. Factors influencing creativity are likely to interact in complex ways. We cannot assume that the absence of a supportive organizational factor, e.g., challenging work, indicates the presence of a corresponding constraint, e.g., unchallenging work. The question arises as to whether and how the impact of various facilitating factors differs from the impact of their negative twin, i.e. the constraining factors that indicate the absence of certain facilitating factors.

Possible topics

  1. Top of page
  2. Background
  3. Possible topics
  4. Research methods
  5. Deadline and Submissions
  6. Contacts
  7. References

This call aims to stimulate debate and discussion around the nature and dynamics of organizational creativity under constraints. This special issue invites submissions from a variety of disciplines and perspectives. In particular, we encourage submissions that address issues related (but not limited) to the following areas:

  • The specific nature of constraints and their effects on creativity;
  • The effects of constraints on the various stages of the creative process;
  • The role of constraints in light of various aspects and interpretations of the creativity concept;
  • Exploration of the effects of constraints with regard to the specific nature of the task at hand;
  • Exploration into whether and how the impact of various facilitating factors differs from the impact of their negative twin, i.e. the constraining factors that indicate the absence of certain facilitating factors;
  • Exploration of interaction effects with regard to constraints, e.g. the interaction between individual-level and organizational constraints;
  • Exploration of the interplay of organizational constraints with business innovation and entrepreneurial action;
  • Study of the way constraints are dealt with by employees at different management levels, such as top, middle, and first-line management;
  • In-depth studies of the working of specific constraints in practice, e.g. power structure and politics, bureaucracy, workload pressure, time pressure, resource constraints, etc.;
  • Study of how groups and teams deal with organizational constraints;
  • Study of constraints under different models of organizational behaviour, such as autocratic, custodial, supportive, and collegial;
  • Study of constraints in projects and temporary organizations;
  • Study of constraints in different countries and cultures.

Research methods

  1. Top of page
  2. Background
  3. Possible topics
  4. Research methods
  5. Deadline and Submissions
  6. Contacts
  7. References

We welcome both conceptual/theoretical and empirical contributions with a variety of research strategies, including surveys, multi-level studies, experiments, case studies and reviews.

Deadline and Submissions

  1. Top of page
  2. Background
  3. Possible topics
  4. Research methods
  5. Deadline and Submissions
  6. Contacts
  7. References

Manuscripts should be prepared according to the CIM author guidelines, and need to be submitted through the online submission system of CIM: http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/cim. The deadline for the submission of papers is 15 June 2013. When submitting it is extremely important that you clearly state that your submission is meant for the special issue.

Contacts

  1. Top of page
  2. Background
  3. Possible topics
  4. Research methods
  5. Deadline and Submissions
  6. Contacts
  7. References

The Guest editors are happy to discuss ideas for papers and can be emailed at the below addresses:

References

  1. Top of page
  2. Background
  3. Possible topics
  4. Research methods
  5. Deadline and Submissions
  6. Contacts
  7. References