Creativity and Social Networks: The Relational Advantage of Strong Ties
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Social networks research focusing on the link between tie strength and creativity has concluded that weak ties are beneficial. The explanation offered is that weak ties provide access to a greater amount of non-redundant information. However, when ties can potentially provide access to non-redundant information, I argue that strong ties should facilitate combining non-redundant information to enhance creativity. In support, the present study links strong ties to individual and group creativity. At the individual level, since individuals are more likely to trust the competence of strong ties and be more comfortable openly discussing ideas with strong ties, individuals will think more creatively when combining non-redundant information received from strong ties to generate new ideas. Openly discussing ideas, in particular, has a greater impact on creative thinking when an individual interacts with another with the same functional expertise. This is because openly discussing ideas facilitates sharing and combining tacit knowledge to generate new ideas. At the group level, trust and cooperative norms mediate the link between group tie strength and group creative processing. Moreover, conflict moderates the link between group creative processing and group creative outcomes. Taken together, these results suggest the relationship between tie strength and creativity may be more complex than previously asserted. In discussing the implications of this work, I offer possible explanations and directions for new research.
Creativity; Social Networks
dissertation or thesis