Journal of Applied Social Psychology

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When and why are proactive employees more creative? Investigations of relational and motivational mechanisms and contextual contingencies in the east and west

Abstract

Despite theory and empirical work linking employee proactive personality to individual‐level creativity, less is known about why and under what circumstances this relationship occurs. Drawing inspiration from the dynamic componential model of creativity and innovation in organizations, we report the results of two complementary, multisource field studies conceptualizing and testing interactional justice and intrinsic motivation as mediators of this relationship in two cultural contexts (i.e., China and Canada). We also investigated two potential moderators of these mediated effects: employees’ personal power distance values (in Study 1) and supervisor proactive personality (in Study 2). Although the mediating effect of intrinsic motivation was robust across the two studies, highlighting the cross‐cultural generalizability of this pathway, supplemental analyses in Study 1 indicate that this mechanism was driven by the self‐determination (vs. meaning, competence, or impact) facet of intrinsic task motivation in particular. In contrast, the mediating effect of interactional justice was contingent on both supervisor proactive personality and employee power distance, though at different stages of the process (i.e., Stage 1 vs. Stage 2 moderation, respectively). Taken together, these findings highlight the importance of relational, in addition to motivational pathways, in explaining the influence of proactive personality on creativity, but also suggest that the relational mechanism may be more sensitive to contextual influences.

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