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Strong Norms and Creativity. April 6, 2006. Ongoing Debate. Does conformity pressure stifle creativity or can it be used to increase creativity in groups? Q1: Are there norms that enhance group creativity?

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Strong Norms and Creativity


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    1. Strong Norms and Creativity April 6, 2006

    2. Ongoing Debate • Does conformity pressure stifle creativity or can it be used to increase creativity in groups? • Q1: Are there norms that enhance group creativity? • Q2: Can creating pressure to conform to these norms increase creativity in groups?

    3. Norms for Creativity? • Collectivism: Groups bind and mutually obligate individuals. • Individualism: People are independent and self- determining (Oyserman, et.al., 2002) • Collectivistic values are beneficial: • Collectivism promotes cooperation and reduces social loafing(Wagner, 1995) • Collectivism promotes identification with the organization (Chatman, Polzer, Barsade & Neale, 1998)

    4. Hypothesis 1: Individualistic groups will have higher performance than collectivistic groups on creativity tasks. • People in collectivistic cultures are more conforming.(Bond & Smith, 1996) • Given that creative ideas are initially deviant increasing conformity pressure will limit creativity (Moscovici, 1985; Nemeth & Staw, 1989). • Willingness to “stand out” from the group and to confront differences will promote creativity in individualistic groups. (Stasser, 1987; Nemeth, et al, 2001)

    5. Summary of Results (Goncalo & Staw, 2006) • Instructions to “be creative” stimulate greater creativity in individualistic groups than collectivistic groups. • More ideas, more diverse ideas, more creative ideas. • Individualistic groups are more creative even at the selection stage which is a “convergent task.” • Selected ideas more creative and multi-faceted. • Notion that collectivistic groups can be more creative than individualistic groups when instructed to be was not supported.

    6. Study 2: Role of Conformity Pressure (Goncalo & Duguid, 2006) Research Question: • If individualistic norms increase creativity relative to collectivistic norms, then will pressure to conform to norms that are individualistic also stimulate creativity?

    7. Conformity in Individualistic Cultures • Conformity: • In US standing out and being different is positive and “expected” but in China it is rude and childish. • Accountability makes individualists more competitive and collectivists more cooperative. • People in individualistic groups value individualistic behavior even though such behaviors do not benefit them.

    8. Hypothesis • Since individualistic norms are beneficial for creativity, groups are more likely to realize the benefits of individualism when such norms are strong as opposed to weak.

    9. Method • Subjects: 180 Cornell Undergraduates • N = 60 groups of 3. • Design: 2 Strength (Strong vs. Weak) x 2 Content (Individualistic vs. Collectivistic) • Phase 1: Norm content and strength manipulated. • Phase 2: Group creativity measured with a brainstorming task.

    10. Experimental Manipulation Individualism-Collectivism Manipulation: • Team building task: Success attributed to each individual or to the group as a whole. Strong-Weak Norms Manipulation: • Biased Questionnaire: • (1) Give 3 reasons why a group should (encourage/allow) it members to (agree/disagree) with one another • (2) Give 3 reasons why a group should (accept/reject) people who do not fit with the group

    11. Measures of Creativity • (1) Sheer number of ideas generated. • (2) Diversity of ideas generated • (3) Independent rating of each idea on a scale of 1 (Not at all creative) to 5 (Highly Creative). • (4) Number of creative ideas (above “3”) • (5) Creativity of idea selected by the group

    12. Results: Idea Generation

    13. Results: Idea Diversity

    14. Results: Independent Ratings of Creativity

    15. Results: Number of “creative” ideas

    16. Results: Creativity of selected idea

    17. Study Conclusions • Norms can be used to influence creativity, especially if they encourage individualism. • Conformity pressure does not necessarily stifle creativity. • Caveat: Only if people feel pressure to conform to norms that are individualistic. • Collectivistic groups, not individualistic groups benefit from reducing conformity pressure.

    18. Next week.. • Introduce two types of persuasion • Innovation papers due April 13th.