Why do employees undertake creative action?


Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Kerrie L. Unsworth, Business School, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia 6009, Australia (e-mail: kerrieu@biz.uwa.edu.au).


There is much research identifying factors that lead to a creative outcome, but little on what leads employees to begin the creative process in the first place. This research used semi-structured interviews with 65 engineers to explore the factors and processes involved in this phenomenon. We found that general work motivation, creativity requirements, cultural support for creativity, time resources, and autonomy were all used as cues in deciding whether undertaking creative action would be worthwhile via judgmental processes of expectancy and instrumentality. We also discovered overlaps with the cognate literatures of organizational citizenship and proactivity and explore these in discussing new areas for research.