Creative leadership: a multi-context conceptualization

Charalampos Mainemelis*, Ronit Kark, Olga Epitropaki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Various streams of organizational research have examined the relationship between creativity and leadership, albeit using slightly different names such as “creative leadership”, “leading for creativity and innovation”, and “managing creatives”. In this article, we review this dispersed body of knowledge and synthesize it under a global construct of creative leadership, which refers to leading others toward the attainment of a creative outcome. Under this unifying construct, we classify three more narrow conceptualizations that we observe in the literature: facilitating employee creativity; directing the materialization of a leader's creative vision; and integrating heterogeneous creative contributions. After examining the contextual characteristics associated with the three conceptualizations, we suggest that they represent three distinct collaborative contexts of creative leadership. We discuss the theoretical implications of a multi-context framework of creative leadership, especially in terms of resolving three persisting problems in the extant literature: lack of definitional clarity, shortage of nuanced theories, and low contextual sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-482
Number of pages90
JournalAcademy of Management Annals
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2015


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