Enhancing creativity in a general work environment : the role of problem-solving demand

  • Qin Zhou

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Prior research suggests management can employ cognitively demanding job attributes to promote employee creativity. However, it is not clear what specific type of cognitive demand is particularly important for creativity, what processes underpin the relationship between demanding job conditions and creativity and what factors lead to employee perceptions of demanding job attributes. This research sets out to address the aforementioned issues by examining: (i) problem-solving demand (PDS), a specific type of cognitive demand, and the processes that link PSD to creativity, and (ii) antecedents to PSD. Based on social cognitive theory, PSD was hypothesized to be positively related to creativity through the motivational mechanism of creative self-efficacy. However, the relationship between PSD and creative self-efficacy was hypothesized to be contingent on levels of intrinsic motivation. Social information processing perspective and the job crafting model were used to identify antecedents of PSD. Consequently, two social-contextual factors (supervisor developmental feedback and job autonomy) and one individual factor (proactive personality) were hypothesized to be precursors to PSD perceptions. The theorized model was tested with data obtained from a sample of 270 employees and their supervisors from 3 organisations in the People’s Republic of China. Regression results revealed that PSD was positively related to creativity but this relationship was partially mediated by creative self-efficacy. Additionally, intrinsic motivation moderated the relationship between PSD and creative self-efficacy such that the relationship was stronger for individuals high rather than low in intrinsic motivation. The findings represent a productive first step in identifying a specific cognitive demand that is conducive to employee creativity. In addition, the findings contribute to the literature by identifying a psychological mechanism that may link cognitively demanding job attributes and creativity.
Date of Award2008
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorHelen J Shipton (Supervisor) & Samuel N Aryee (Supervisor)


  • Enhancing creativity
  • work environment
  • problem-solving demand

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