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Organisational Motivation to Innovate Mediates Key Determinants of Employee Creativity, Finds New Study

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A recent study has shed light on the critical factors influencing employee creativity within agricultural research institutes, highlighting the interplay between work environment, family-work resource spillover, and organisational motivation to innovate. Conducted by Yohannes Mekonnen Yesuf and colleagues, the research aims to understand the direct and indirect effects of these factors on creativity, with findings that could have significant implications for organisational management and innovation strategies.

The study, published in the Journal of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, focused on 302 researchers from agricultural research institutes in Ethiopia. It employed the partial least squares structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM) technique to test the hypothesised relationships between the work environment, family–work resource spillover, organisational motivation to innovate, and employee creativity.

The research identified several determinants within the work environment that directly and indirectly affect employee creativity. These include sufficient resources, realistic workload pressure, freedom, challenging work, work group support, and managerial encouragement.

  • Sufficient resources. The study found no significant direct relationship between sufficient resources and employee creativity. However, organisational motivation to innovate mediated this relationship, suggesting that resources alone are not enough; the organisational climate and culture play a crucial role in translating resources into creative output.
  • Realistic workload pressure. Contrary to some prior research, the study revealed no significant direct or indirect effects of realistic workload pressure on creativity, indicating that merely managing workload is insufficient to spur creativity without the right motivational framework.
  • Freedom and challenging work. Freedom and challenging work were also shown to have no significant direct effects on creativity. Nevertheless, organisational motivation to innovate significantly mediated these relationships, underscoring the importance of a supportive organisational environment that fosters creativity through intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors.
  • Work group support and managerial encouragement. Work group support demonstrated a positive direct effect on creativity, and this relationship was partially mediated by organisational motivation to innovate. In contrast, managerial encouragement did not show a significant direct impact, although other studies have suggested its potential importance, highlighting the complexity and context-dependency of these factors.

The study also examined the influence of family-work resource spillover on creativity. This concept refers to the transfer of resources, such as energy, skills, and mood, from family life to the work environment. The findings revealed significant positive effects, with organisational motivation to innovate partially mediating this relationship. This indicates that support from family life can enhance creative performance at work, particularly when the organisation fosters a motivating environment.

Organisational motivation to innovate emerged as a critical mediator across multiple relationships examined in the study. This motivational framework within the organisation includes elements like clear goals, value placed on innovation, support for risk-taking, and recognition of creative efforts. The research emphasises that such an environment not only directly influences creativity but also enhances the impact of other factors like work group support and family-work resource spillover.

For organisational leaders and managers, these findings highlight the importance of cultivating an environment that goes beyond merely providing resources or managing workload. Encouraging a culture of innovation, where employees feel supported and motivated, is essential for harnessing creativity. This involves recognising and rewarding creative efforts, providing autonomy and challenging work, and fostering supportive work groups.

Acknowledging the role of family life in contributing to workplace creativity suggests that organisations should consider policies and practices that support work-life balance and integrate family-friendly initiatives.

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