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The composition of the workforce with regard to organizational tenure is rapidly changing. In this paper, we examine the cross-level effects of tenure diversity on individual-level creativity. In keeping with the categorization-elaboration model, we propose individual-level explicit knowledge as a mediating mechanism between tenure diversity and individual creativity, and knowledge sharing as moderating the relationship between tenure diversity and individual explicit knowledge. Using a sample of 341 Korean insurance agents from 76 groups, we find that knowledge sharing moderates the relationship between tenure diversity and individual explicit knowledge. Results further support the direction of the hypothesized relationships, with tenure diversity positively influencing individual explicit knowledge at high levels of knowledge sharing and exhibiting a negative influence at low levels. Individual explicit knowledge carries these indirect effects to individual creativity, although directional significance was only found at extremely high and low values.

Practitioner Points

  • Tenure diversity is now a fact of organizational life that managers need to embrace. While our results suggest that tenure diversity is positively related to individual creativity, individual explicit knowledge and knowledge sharing play important roles in the association.
  • Knowledge sharing appears to be a key boundary condition, which modifies the influence of tenure diversity on individual explicit knowledge. Working in a diverse group is not enough; the knowledge has to be shared.
  • Individual explicit knowledge mediates the relationship between tenure diversity and individual creativity; it carries a positive indirect effect when knowledge sharing is high and a negative indirect effect when knowledge sharing is low. For complex jobs, where creativity is desired, but much of the work is independent, managers need to encourage employees with diverse levels of tenure to share experiences and ways of performing their tasks.