Multiple foci of commitment and creative work behaviour in inter-organisational innovation projects

  • Yvonne Van Rossenberg

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Creative ideas are valued increasingly in all kinds of organisations. Searching to facilitate creative processes, organisations recognise that the source of new ideas and information lies in the interaction between different functional departments, as well as in the cooperation with external actors. For this reason organisations engage in collaborative innovation projects. These inter-organisational or networked employment structures provide a setting in which employees interact with a multitude of entities. In this context, employees can be expected to develop commitment to multiple foci, such as the organisation, the profession and the client. Employee attitudes, especially their level of commitment, are likely to be central to their willingness to engage in activities which are vital to the creative process.Employing a field theoretic lens, this thesis seeks to examine employees’ affective commitment to seven foci: the project, the organisation, the profession, the client, the lead project manager, the career and the job. The emphasis lies on the examination of the interactions between these foci of commitment in their influence on employees’ creative work behaviour. The thesis offers the integration of previous research into a new concept central to the management of creativity in the workplace. Creative Work Behaviour (CWB) is conceptualised on the basis of four phases of the creative process (1) problem identification, (2) information search, (3) idea generation, and (4) idea evaluation. In addition, in this thesis two types of creative work behaviour are recognised: incremental and radical, which are contrasted with routine in-role behaviour. Thereby, the concept of creative work behaviour is advanced, both theoretically as well as empirically, by the test of the survey measure of the concept showing reliability and validity across a wide variety of participants in innovation projects. This thesis relies on individual data from 450 Inter-organisational Innovation Projects (IIPs) funded by the UK government. The data is analysed using both variable centred and person-centred types of analysis. Fitting the data into a series of latent regression, structural equation, and latent mixture models, the analyses provide comprehensive insight into the interactions between the multiple foci of commitment in their effect on creative work behaviour. Analysis of the data showed employees to distinguish between the seven foci of commitment in the IIP context. The results showed the effects of commitment to differ in strength between the types as well as the phases of CWB. Direct effects were strongest for commitment to the project on routine behaviour, commitment to the job on the generation of incremental creative ideas, and commitment to the profession on the evaluation of radical creative ideas. Commitment to the leader had a weak effect on employee behaviour, specifically for radical CWB. Commitment to the profession had an overall strong effect, except for information searching and encoding. Commitment to the project was found to be the key mediator in the effect between multiple foci of commitment on both routine and incremental CWB. For incremental CWB the mediation model was a poorer representation of the variance in the data; moreover the models must allow direct effects of commitment to the job on the generation of incremental creative ideas. For radical creative behaviour commitment to the job was found to be the best fitting mediator between commitment, representing the variance in the data equally as well as the full direct effects model. Latent Profile / Mixture Analysis enables additional insight into the combinations of foci of commitment (commitment profiles) and their relations to creative work behaviour, as well as underlying motivation and experienced creative support.This thesis is the first to propose and empirically examine the relations between commitment and creativity using a multiple foci approach. The concepts of commitment and creativity are embedded in two different fields of research and, therefore, have rarely been studied together. The results demonstrate multiple foci of commitment to be fundamental to employees in the context of inter-organisational innovation projects, interacting strongly in affecting employee behaviour. The specific context of inter-organisational innovation projects increasingly represents the emergent workplace setting in the current knowledge era. Understanding of the interplay between commitment to multiple targets in inter-organisation innovation projects provides a basis of the management of employee commitments, and, thereby managing employees’ creative behaviour. Creative work behaviours are a vital behavioural outcome in innovation projects, increasingly valued in all kinds of organisations.
Date of Award2 Jul 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorJuani Swart (Supervisor) & Nicholas Kinnie (Supervisor)

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