Much of the research devoted to creativity in organizations delves into social networks and their impact on employee creativity. However, research from Jill Perry-Smith, associate professor of organization and management, investigates how types of knowledge factor into creativity in an organization. Perry-Smith conducted her research in a laboratory setting, analyzing the results of two distinct studies of undergraduate participants. The studies reference two types of knowledge content—information (facts or data) and frames (interpretations or impressions). She found that participants receiving nonredundant or unique information were significantly less creative compared to participants receiving nonredundant framing. Her research also suggests that content received from individuals with less of an emotional connection to one another—the so-called “weak tie”—boosts creativity regardless of the type of knowledge received. Strong ties to an individual aids creativity only when different frames are received. Even when team members in an organization seem to reject information from a minority opinion holder, it forces the other team members to delve more deeply into their own opinions, look at alternatives, and consequently, be more creative.
Jill Perry-Smith Senior Associate Dean For Strategic Initiatives; Goizueta Foundation Term Professor of Organization & Management