Individualism-Collectivism and Group Creativity

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Current research in organizational behavior suggests that organizations should adopt collectivistic values because they promote cooperation and productivity, while individualistic values should be avoided because they incite destructive conflict and opportunism. In this paper, we highlight one possible benefit of individualistic values that has not previously been considered. Because individualistic values can encourage uniqueness, such values might be useful when creativity is a desired outcome. Although we hypothesize that individualistic groups should be more creative than collectivistic groups, we also consider an important competing hypothesis: Given that collectivistic groups are more responsive to norms, they might be more creative than individualistic groups when given explicit instructions to be creative. The results did not support this competing hypothesis and instead show that individualistic groups instructed to be creative are more creative than collectivistic groups given the same instructions. These results suggest that individualistic values may be beneficial, especially when creativity is a salient goal.

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2005-11-01
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individualism; collectivism; group-creativity; brainstorming; divergent thinking; organizational behavior
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Required Publisher Statement: Copyright by Elsevier. Final paper published as Goncalo, J.A. & Staw, B.M. (2006). Individualism-collectivism and group creativity. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 100, 96-109.
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