Th-SYM-846-3 - Standardized Work And Organizational Creativity: A Field Study In An Innovative Organization

Team work, creativity and innovation
1 hour
Teams and workgroups
Team work, creativity and innovation
Standardized Work and Organizational Creativity:
A Field Study in an Innovative Organization
E. Rietzschel 1,*, S. van Egmond 2
1Organizational Psychology, University of Groningen, Groningen, 2Royal Philips, The Netherlands, Netherlands
Main Abstract Content: Purpose: Organizations have a strong interest in stimulating employee creativity, yet are often also interested in standardizing work processes to increase efficiency and effectiveness. The question is whether and how these two goals can be reconciled. Although creativity and standardization are often intuitively seen as incompatible, little is known about the way people in organizations perceive this combination. In light of earlier findings, it is plausible that especially employees with a high need for structure and a low need for autonomy have a positive attitude towards work standardization. We conducted a field study in an innovative multinational organization manufacturing electronics and household appliances.
Methodology: In a field survey among 147 employees, we measured individual needs (need for structure, need for autonomy), work characteristics (e.g., perceived autonomy, information processing demands), and expectations of standardized work.
Results: Preliminary analyses show that, as expected, employees’ expectations regarding standardized work were more positive to the extent that their need for structure was higher, especially when they perceived high levels of method autonomy. Further, although expectations were positive on the whole, a substantial number of respondents indicated that standardized work would probably interfere with their creativity at work.
Limitations: The study uses a single-source, self-report design; as such, we cannot draw conclusions regarding causality.
Implications/Originality: This study shows that people in organizations indeed perceive a tension between work standardization and creativity. Moreover, this study demonstrates that individual differences play an important role in these perceptions. Implementation of work standardization needs to take these individual differences into account.

University of Groningen
Assistant professor

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