Sub-theme 39: The Power of Creativity

Jill Perry-Smith
Goizueta Business School, Emory University, Atlanta, USA
Barbara Imperatori
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy
Rita Bissola
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy

Call for Papers

Creative ideas have the power to transform business ventures. Research and anecdotes of effective business projects increasingly have provided evidence that creativity can play a crucial role in contributing to a company's success (e.g. Pixar, Alessi, Ferrari, Armani). In addition, creative competencies influence the power of individuals within and outside the organizations (e.g. Alexander McQueen with his rise within Givenchy and in the fashion industry). In this way, creativity acts as a desirable force, as a differentiator, such that it is valuable, important and not easily attained by all.

Alternatively, creativity is influenced by formal and informal power. Empirical studies suggest that hierarchical control inhibits organizational creativity, whereas other studies suggest that efforts to give employees more control over resources, and to provide additional enrichment and autonomy facilitate creative initiatives (e.g. Continuum, IDEO, Google, 3M). Thus, creativity is not only a force for power but is affected by formal and informal power as well.

Relationships, as potential sources of informal power, also matter. Research evidence highlights that creativity essentially involves collective processes where collaboration and coordination dynamics as well as team routines matter (Hargadon & Bechky, 2006). Within teams, informal hierarchies and status differences can affect various types of conflict and team functioning.

In addition, social network within and outside of the firm profoundly affect the creative performance of individuals as well as the organization as a whole (e.g., Perry-Smith & Shalley, 2003). Employees can leverage the power of informal relationships by building both strong ties and weak links that are important for creative processes. In the same way, relationships between workers and powerful others, such as supervisors and leaders, also matters. Transformative leadership and a supportive managerial style or behaviors enhances followers' creativity. Formal and informal power, however, may not only act as a positive force for creativity. Power can also create internal conflicts, dissonance, and stress thus having controversial effects on creativity. The power dynamic can increase creativity in so far as it supports lateral thinking and diverging. Whereas it can constrain idea generation and implementation, when it creates a distraction from the work at hand and potentially de-motivates (Shalley, 2004).

Contributors of the sub-theme are encouraged to discuss alternative perspectives about how power dimensions can challenge the creativity domain:

  • What is the role of power in fostering and inhibiting creativity?
  • How does creativity function as a force for power?
  • How does creativity hinder or enhance the creativity of individuals, teams, or organizations?

Rigorous conceptual and empirical research with relevance to organizational settings is called for. Papers submitted may include, but are not restricted to, the following themes:

Power in creativity

  • Power relationship in creativity
  • Hierarchy, formal or informal power
  • Creative process, influence and leadership
  • Creativity and roles in social networks
  • The power of creatives
  • Organizational design in the shadow of creativity

Power of creativity

  • Creativity and organizational performance
  • Creative teams and innovation
  • Co-creation, unexpected creativity and open innovation
  • Creative momentum and creative process
  • The dark power of creativity




  • Hargadon, A.B., & Bechky, B.A. (2006): "When Collections of Creatives Become Creative Collectives: A Field Study of Problem Solving at Work." Organization Science, 17 (4), 484–500.
  • Perry-Smith, J.E., & Shalley, C.E. (2003): "The Social Side of Creativity: A Static and Dynamic Social Network Perspective." Academy of Management Review, 28 (1), 89–107.
  • Shalley, C.E., Zhou, J., & Oldham, G.R. (2004): "The Effects of Personal and Contextual Characteristics on Creativity: Where Should We Go from Here?" Journal of Management, 30 (6), 933–958.


Jill Perry-Smith is Associate Professor of Organization and Management in the Goizueta Business School at Emory University, USA. Her research emphasizes creativity as a social process, and in particular investigates the effect of social networks on individual and team creativity. Her research appears in leading organizational journals and edited books.
Barbara Imperatori is Associate Professor of Organization Design and Organizational Behaviour, Dept. of Economic Sciences & Business Management, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy. Her research interests are collective creativity; SHRM; employment relationships and new employment arrangements; organizational wellbeing and social enterprises. Her contributions have been published in international and national journals and books.
Rita Bissola is Associate Professor of Organization Design and Organizational Behaviour at the Department of Economic Sciences & Business Management, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy. Her research interests include creativity in teams and the collective creative process, innovation and HRM challenges, employee engagement. She has published articles and contributions on these topics both in international as well as national journals and books.