Decades of research on creativity in organizations has been motivated by the assumption that creative ideas can be implemented to realize innovations that will inevitably increase profit, strengthen competitive advantage and ensure firm survival. In a significant departure from the existing literature, we conceptualize creativity as an independent variable that can have a sweeping impact on a wide range of other important outcomes. For example, engaging in creative work liberates employees from the burden of keeping secrets.
The growing literatures on creativity and innovation are each premised on the same important assumption that has gone unquestioned: Creativity and innovation are outcomes that are almost inherently positive. The unquestioned assumption that creativity and innovation have positive downstream consequences has constrained existing research by forcing a myopic focus on these outcomes as dependent variables. Thus, we turn the tables to conceptualize creativity and innovation as independent variables that can have a sweeping and frequently negative impact on a wide range of other important outcomes.