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Competing demands may create tensions for the employees. In this study, we propose that the source of the tensions come from the demands to generate both novel and useful ideas. This research explored how employees can cope with tensions through paradox mindset. Drawing on paradox theory, self-determination theory, and the creativity framework, we argue that when employees have paradox mindset, it will increase their intrinsic motivation to be creative, leading to a greater level of creativity. Data from one hundred forty-five leader-member pairs from organizations operating in Netherlands and Indonesia showed that paradox mindset was positively related to employees' intrinsic motivation. However, the relationship between intrinsic motivation and creativity was positive, but not significant. The result of this study emphasizes the importance of having paradox mindset for the employees to engage with tensions in their workplace.

Keywords: competing demands, tension, paradox mindset, intrinsic motivation, creativity


In today's highly competitive environment, firms are expected to have the ability to innovate. Businesses have to innovate to stand out among its competitors and keep up with customer's preferences. Moreover, innovation plays such a fundamental role in business survival in the market (Shalley & Perry-Smith, 2001). In fact, the importance of innovation continues to rise among businesses worldwide. According to Boston Consulting Group's tenth annual global survey of the state of innovation, 79% of the participants stated that they positioned innovation as either the top-prime concern or the-top three concern at their company (Boston Consulting Group, 2015). Innovation requires creativity which is frequently observed as the initial step of innovation (Amabile, 1996; Mumford & Gustafson, 1988; West, 2002a, 2002b). Creativity is broadly defined as the generation of novel and useful ideas (Amabile, 1983). Ideas are viewed as novel if they are original and different from others (Shalley, Zhou, & Oldham, 2004). On the other hand, they are viewed as useful if they give value to the organization (Shalley et al., 2004). The problem is that while novel ideas require people to think out of the box, take risks, and break the boundaries, useful ideas require people to stay within the boundaries and follow the rules (Miron-Spektor & Erez, 2017). Such competing demand may create tensions to those who are expected to be creative for the sake of the organization's success.

Research suggests such tensions can either potentially create innovation or trigger anxiety that eventually can cause stress (Lewis, 2000; Smith & Berg, 1986). Paradox scholars have successfully identified that the impact of tension is determined by the way the individuals see the tension itself (Bartunek, 1988; Schneider, 1999; Smith & Berg, 1986).  In particular, those individuals who see tensions as paradoxes rather than dilemmas can get a much better understanding of the problem and attempt to search for integrative solutions (Miron-Spektor, Ingram, Keller, Smith, & Lewis, 2017). Most of the empirical research studies the nature and responses of tensions only at the organizational level (Andriopoulos & Lewis, 2009; Lüscher & Lewis, 2008) and within senior leadership (Smith, 2014; Zhang, Waldman, Han, & Li, 2015). Few studies have touched upon how individuals experience and react to tensions. However, one exception is the study that proposed tensions can be a double-edged sword, depending on paradox mindset (Miron-Spekter et al., 2017). Paradox mindset is defined as a degree to which individual is welcoming and energized by tensions (Miron-Spektor et al., 2017). Specifically, they discussed employees who experience tensions would increase in role job performance and innovation if they have a high paradox mindset. Although the findings highlighted the importance of paradox mindset in innovation (creativity), the mechanism underlying the link between paradox mindset and creativity is understudied. In the current study, we propose intrinsic motivation as a mediator to explain the relationship between paradox mindset and creativity. Intrinsic motivation refers to the human's natural tendency to search for challenges and excitement that exploit one's capabilities to learn and explore (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Intrinsic motivation has been suggested by several scholars such as Amabile (1996), Tierney, Farmer, & Graen (1999) and Shaley et al., (2004) as an important predictor of creativity. However, the studies on its antecedents have overlooked personal factors that affect intrinsic motivation for creativity.

In response, in this paper, we will try to explain how employees can manage tensions by using paradox mindset and the role of intrinsic motivation in mediating the relationship between employees' paradox mindset and creativity. Specifically, we address the research question: "Whether and why paradox mindset can have a positive effect on creativity?" We suggest that if employees have paradox mindset, it will increase their intrinsic motivation to do a creative task leading to a higher degree of creativity. The higher the level of paradox mindset employees possesses, the more likely they are to enjoy performing a tension-rich activity (e.g. creativity) (Rothenberg, 1979; Smith & Berg, 1986). Drawing from the paradox and self-determination theory, we argued that when employees perceive doing a creative task as enjoyable, fun, or challenging, they will be intrinsically motivated to be creative. Furthermore, individuals have the tendency to be creative when they have intrinsic motivation to do so. This argument is based on the fact that intrinsic motivation is one of the three major elements that leads to creative performance (Amabile, 1983). Furthermore, the importance of intrinsic motivation in creativity is also provided in the two-tiered componential theory of creativity (Runco & Chand, 1995).

Our approach to identifying the relationship between paradox mindset and creativity has the potential to make several contributions. Unlike past research which mostly focused on organization level to explain the nature and responses of tensions, we will explore those within the individual level. Also, we will explain how paradox mindset can be one of the creativity-relevant personalities. Furthermore, the direct effect of creativity on paradox mindset will be tested. In the next section, we present the rationales for the direct effects of paradox mindset and creativity, the direct effect of paradox mindset and intrinsic motivation, followed by the direct effect of intrinsic motivation to creativity. Lastly, the indirect effect of paradox mindset and creativity will also be discussed.


Paradox Mindset and Creativity

 Individuals who adopt paradoxical frames can form their cognitive and emotional processes leading to the enhancement of creativity (Miron-Spektor & Erez, 2017). This is because these frames enable individuals to expand their attention scopes and raise their cognitive flexibility. (Miron-Spektor & Erez, 2017). Individuals who have paradox mindset tend to embrace an alternative point of view by creating new linkages among them (Miron-Spektor, Gino, & Argote, 2011; Tetlock, Peterson, & Berry, 1993). In addition, paradox mindset allows an individual to have the ability to think in new ways by separating and coordinating opposing elements (Tetlock et al., 1993). There is one concept in the cognitive psychology of science that is similar to paradox mindset which is integrative complexity. Integrative complexity is the extent to which a person processes the information through differentiation and integration (Goldstein & Blackman, 1978; Harvey, Hunt, & Schroder, 1961; Schroder, Driver, & Streufert, 1967; Suefed & Rank, 1967; Tetlock & Suedfeld, 1988). Differentiation refers to the ability of a person to have multiple yet opposed perception of a dimension when assessing an event, whereas integration is the degree to which a person can integrate and connects the dimensions (Suedfeld & Bluck, 1993; Tetlock, 1986). Integrative complexity has been shown to have a positive correlation with two fundamental scientific skills which are curiosity and creativity (Barron, 1969; Guildford, 1950; MacKinnon, 1978; Simonton, 1988). Therefore, it can be argued that paradox mindset would work in a similar way as integrative complexity does to affect creativity, as both of concepts process the information through combining integration and differentiation at the same time.

In addition, paradox mindset enables individuals to construct task in a complex and challenging way, which promotes creativity. Complex thinking presents whenever a person has the ability to build up an integrative solution of many differentiations (Feist, 1994). Specifically, complexity can exist when there is a conflicting relationship between desired outcomes (Campbell, 1988). Paradox mindset makes people construct problem in a more complex and challenging way. A complex and challenging task has been shown to motivate people to be creative (Tierney & Farmer, 2002). Taken all things together, we argue that there are multiple reasons to believe that paradox mindset is a positive predictor of creativity. Specifically, the higher the paradox mindset employees have, the higher the creativity they will perform.

Hypothesis 1: Paradox mindset has a direct positive effect on creativity

The Relationship Between Paradox Mindset and Intrinsic Motivation

As we mentioned in the previous section, when employees have to generate novel and useful ideas, such competing demands might create tension. Tension can have negative or even positive impact and it depends on the individual's perspective. Employees who accept tensions, see it as a challenging opportunity that enhances learning and agility (Miron-Spektor et al., 2017).  In contrast, employees who see tension as a dilemma might feel stressed (Miron-Spektor et al., 2017). The coping mechanism that most employees may use to deal with the tension is to pursue either novel or useful ideas. This conclusion is derived from the paradox theory. Paradox theory describes tensions as built-in within organizational systems (Miron-Spektor et al., 2017). Instead of trying to avoid, resolve or negotiate these tensions, paradox theory offers a different perspective about how individuals try to find ways to embrace their persistent nature (Smith & Tracey, 2016). Paradox mindset is the degree to which individual accept and feel energized by tensions (Miron-Spektor et al., 2017). Following paradox theory, we suggest that employees with a low level of paradox mindset feel negative and uncomfortable with tensions, which makes them less interested and excited about tension-rich activities, (e.g., creativity). On the other hand, employees with a high level of paradox mindset embrace the tensions and comfortable with tensions (Rothenberg, 1979; Smith & Berg, 1986), which makes them feel enjoyable when conducting creative tasks. Such feelings are more likely to increase employee's intrinsic motivation related to creativity.

The concept of intrinsic motivation is originated from Self Determination Theory. This theory mainly discusses about human motivation. According to Self Determination Theory, there are two types of motivation, which are intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation (Deci & Ryan, 1985). This distinction is based on the reasons behind a person's act (Deci & Ryan, 1985). If the person does the action because it is constitutionally interesting, enjoyable, or challenging, then it refers to intrinsic motivation (Deci & Ryan, 1985). In contrast, extrinsic motivation refers to doing an action because the person expects to get a specific outcome or external rewards (Deci & Ryan, 1985). Building from this insight, it can be argued that employees with a high paradox mindset will be intrinsically motivated to do creativity. Employees who have a high paradox mindset are more likely to perceive a creative task as a challenging and enjoyable task since they are comfortable with the tension. When employees moved to act for the challenge or satisfaction need rather than due to external rewards or pressure, employees are expected to be intrinsically motivated to do a creative task (Deci & Ryan, 1985).

Hypothesis 2: Paradox mindset has a positive effect on intrinsic motivation

The Relationship between Intrinsic Motivation and Creativity

According to the comprehensive framework for conceptualizing creativity, there are three major elements leading to creative performance (Amabile, 1983). The first is domain-relevant skills, which contain the knowledge and technical skills (Amabile, 1983). This element can be viewed as the arrangement of the psychological pathway for managing a problem (Amabile, 1983). The second is creativity-relevant skills that include suitable cognitive style and appropriate work style (Amabile, 1983). Lastly, task motivation is about the individual's perception about the task (Amabile, 1983).  Unlike the other two, task motivation only appears at a specific stage, meaning that the level of motivation can be different depends on the particular tasks (Amabile, 1983). In addition, the other two components talk about what a person can do, whereas task motivation is about what the person wants to do. In this paper, we will be specifically focusing on the task motivation for creative performance.  As discussed before, an individual is said to be intrinsically motivated to do something if he or she perceives the activity as enjoyable, fun, exciting, or challenging. The role of task motivation in the initial stage of creative performance is very crucial. If an individual has a high level of interest because he or she finds creative related task enjoyable, this interest will be adequate to undertake the creativity process (Amabile, 1983). Thus, it can be argued that a primarily intrinsic motivation to do the creative related task will enhance an individual's creativity.

One of the tiers in the two-tiered componential theory of creativity also provide insights into the importance of intrinsic motivation in relation to creativity. The first tier of the model is about the influences of motivation and knowledge on the creativity. (Runco & Chand, 1995). The second tier includes problem-finding skills, ideation, and evaluation (Runco & Chand, 1995).  The first tier that contains motivation is the foundation of the creative process. They discussed intrinsic motivation as one of the types of motivation besides extrinsic motivation (Runco & Chand, 1995). Furthermore, the process to generate ideas requires people to be eager learners, cognitively flexible, and to jump out of the box. Such behaviors are more likely to exist within individuals who have a high level of intrinsic motivation (Utman, 1997; Zhou & Shalley, 2003). Taken together, we propose that employees who experience intrinsic motivation will have the tendency to be creative. Specifically, the higher the level of intrinsic motivation employees possesses, the higher the level of creativity they will perform.

Hypothesis 3: Intrinsic motivation has a positive effect on creativity.

The Indirect Relationship between Paradox Mindset and Creativity

  Earlier we argued that the paradox mindset will positively affect intrinsic motivation. Moreover, the positive effect of intrinsic motivation and creativity has also been discussed. Hence, it is possible to assume that there is also a positive indirect relationship between paradox mindset and creativity. As employees are expected to perform competing demands such as generating creative ideas that are both novel and useful, there tends to be a rise in tension. An individual who has a high level of paradox mindset is characterized by tolerating tensions and even feeling energized by it. The employee who has a high level of paradox mindset may be intrinsically motivated to do related creative task since they perceive the activity as enjoyable or challenging rather than stressful. When employees are motivated to generate creative ideas, their interest will be sufficient to undertake creative process and they may put extra effort to complete the task given by their managers that is to be creative. As a result, we suggest paradox mindset can have a positive impact on creativity. Specifically, the higher the level of paradox mindset employees have, the greater the level of creativity they will perform.

Hypothesis 4: Paradox mindset has an indirect positive effect on creativity through                 intrinsic motivation

To sum up, what has been discussed so far, I presented the conceptual model in Figure 1.


 Sample Selection and Data Description

This research is part of a thesis project conducted by 10 International Business bachelor students at the University of Groningen. The data for this bachelor thesis project were collected through a single wave of the survey organized in 2017.  The research population consisted of organizations operating in the Netherlands and Indonesia, working in the various industries. We provided the questionnaire with three versions (English, Dutch, and Bahasa Indonesia). We used translation and back-translation procedure to test the accuracy of the translation. This is done by evaluating the meaning similarities between the source and target languages (Brislin, 1970). The respondents to the survey were teams consisted of minimal four people that involve a certain level of creativity and are relatively stable. Team leaders were asked to indicate how creative their team as a whole, rate the creativity, and overall performances for each team member. Meanwhile, the team members were instructed to answer questions about their team leader's leadership styles, work environment, work motivation and their traits.

We used convenience sampling to collect the primary data for the research. The advantages of using conveniences sampling are it is easy, less time consuming, and inexpensive since the target population are simply accessible to the researchers (Etikan, Musa, & Alkassim, 2015). The data was gathered through several procedures. The first procedural step was to contact the organization or team leaders in Indonesia and ask them to participate in the study through a personal network. Since it is impossible to visit in person, the students contacted the team leaders by sending an email to explain about the research and the benefits of participating. The second procedural step consisted of filling the Excel sheet with the email addresses of both team leader and team members that agree to participate in the research and sending the excel sheet to the thesis supervisor. Next procedure was to translate the questionnaire from English to Dutch or Bahasa Indonesia using the back-translation method. After sending the questionnaire electronically, the last procedure was to remind and motivate both team leader and team members to fill the questionnaire before the deadline.

 We managed to send the questionnaire to 84 team leaders' email addresses and 587 team members' email addresses. The total response from the electronic questionnaire were 58 for the leaders and 217 for the members. The response rate for leaders and members were 69.05% and 36.97% accordingly. However, we can only use the data in which the response of the team leaders and members are matched. The final sample sizes were 45 team leaders and 145 team members. Team leaders consisted of 62.2% male (N = 28) and 35.6% female (N = 16) – 2.2% missing data – with the average age of 34 years (N = 44, SD = 13.73). The education level of the leaders varied from less to high school to doctorate level with the mean of 3.16, which corresponds to the bachelor degree (N = 43, SD = 1.33). On average, the leaders had 12 years and 4 months of work experience (SD = 12.07). Meanwhile, the members consisted of 47,6% male (N = 69) and 52.4% of female (N = 76) with the average age of 29 (SD = 10.71, N = 144). The team members also had the mean of 3.23 in terms of education level, meaning that on average they obtained a bachelor degree (SD = 1.09). The members' work experience was 8 years and 8 months (SD = 9.49)



Creativity was measured on a 7-point scale (1 = "strongly disagree" to 7 = "strongly agree") with three items adopted from the scale developed by Janssen (2000). The scale was widely cited in the field and has shown a good reliability. The items include (1) creating new ideas for difficult issues (2) searching out new working methods, and (3) generating original solutions for problems. The internal consistency of the scale was high with Cronbach's Alpha of .87. This implies that the items used to measure creativity was reliable since the widely-accepted threshold for academic research is greater than .70.

Intrinsic Motivation

Five items which are developed and validated by Tierney, Farmer, and Graen (1999) were used to assess employee's intrinsic motivation in their workplace on a scale ranging from 1= "strongly disagree" to 7 = "strongly agree". One of the sample items is "I enjoy finding solutions to complex problems". The internal consistency of the scale was high with Cronbach's Alpha of .84. Same with the previous case, high Cronbach's Alpha indicates that the items in intrinsic motivation measure the same construct consistently.

Paradox Mindset

The paradox mindset of employees was measured using seven items derived from Miron-Spektor, Ingram, Keller, Smith, & Lewis (2017). The Likert scale was used ranging from 1 = "strongly disagree" to 7 = "strongly agree".  An example of the item is "I am comfortable dealing with conflicting demands at the same time." The internal consistency of the scale was high with Cronbach's Alpha of .82.

Control Variables

There are five control variables being used in this research which are gender, age (in years), education level, nationality and job tenure. First, prior research indicates that gender differences can influence creativity. However, the findings have been inconsistent over the past few years. A dummy variable was created for gender (1= "male" and 2 = "female").  Second, studies about creativity show that the level of creativity depends on age. One of the studies revealed that young adults are better in the creative process than older adults (Roskos- Ewoldsen, Black & McCown, 2008).

Third, scholars suggested that education level might influence creativity. They argued that people who have different education level tend to perform different work attitudes that affect creativity (Baer & Oldham, 2006; Tierney & Farmer, 2004). The scale for measuring education is ranging from 1 = "less than high school" to 6= "Doctorate". Fourth, past research investigated whether cultures might promote or hinder creativity. A dichotomous variable was provided to determine respondent's nationality (0 = "Indonesian", 1 = "Netherlands").  Lastly, previous research suggested that work tenure can affect creativity through the development of domain-specific knowledge (Oldham & Cummings, 1996; Tierney & Farmer, 2002). Work tenure was measured by the respondents' work experience in years.


The number of observations, means, standard deviations and correlation among study variables are presented in Table 1. In the previous section, we argued that gender, age, education level, nationality, and job tenure should be used as the control variables in the analysis. However, since there was only one control variable that had a significant correlation with creativity, which was education level (r = .21, p < .01), the other control variables mentioned earlier were not included in the regression analysis (Carlson & Wu, 2012).

As shown in Table 1, The relationship between paradox mindset and intrinsic motivation was positively correlated (r = .35, p <.05). Intrinsic motivation was positively but not significantly related to creativity (r = .13, ns). Paradox mindset also had a positive but not significant relationship with creativity (r = .06, ns).

To reduce the likelihood of multicollinearity problem, the independent variables and continuous control variables were standardized. In addition, Variance Inflation Factor (VIF) was also performed. The VIF value for each independent variable was less than five which indicates there was no indication of multicollinearity problem.

Conceptual model in this study is presented in Figure 1(See Figure 1). The process to test all of the hypothesis are as follows; first, we tested the direct effect of paradox mindset on creativity. Second, we tested the relationship between paradox mindset and intrinsic motivation. Third, we tested the effect of intrinsic motivation on creativity. For these tests, multiple linear regression analysis was conducted. Lastly, to test the indirect effect of paradox mindset and creativity, we used the PROCESS procedure by Hayes (2013) in SPSS. The results of the analysis are presented in Table 2.

In general, all the models had a significant F-statistic which implies all the regression models as a whole had a statistically significant predictive capability. R-squared and adjusted R-squared are also presented in Table 2 to show the goodness of fit of the model. Model 3, the one used to test hypothesis 2, had the highest R-squared with the value of .14. This means 14% of the variation of intrinsic motivation was explained by paradox mindset.

For the hypothesis 1, we expected to have a positive direct relationship between paradox mindset and creativity. Despite the fact that the relationship between those two variables was positive, the analysis shows that the positive relationship was not significant (B = .09, ns). Therefore, hypothesis 1 is not supported.

Hypothesis 2 predicts that employees who have high paradox mindset will lead to the greater degree of intrinsic motivation. The result shows that paradox mindset had a positive regression coefficient (B = .28, p < .001). This implies a unit increase in employees' paradox mindset will lead to an increase of .28 in their intrinsic motivation. Hence, hypothesis 2 is supported.

Hypothesis 3 stated that intrinsic motivation has a positive effect on creativity. The result indicates that there was a positive relationship, but it was not significant (B = .14, ns). Therefore, hypothesis 3 is not supported

Since the last hypothesis is about the indirect relationship, we expected to have a significant positive relationship after having a positive relationship from two previous hypotheses. Since it was not the case, the result shows that there was an insignificant positive relationship (B = .04 with the indirect effect interval of -.17 until .26). Therefore, hypotheses 4 is not supported.

Exploratory Analysis

The data collected from Indonesian and Dutch groups are combined to have a sufficient pool of dataset to test the hypotheses. This implies that we did not take into account the cultural differences from both nationalities in our analysis. Although a dummy variable was created to test the correlation between nationality and variables of interest, we did not found a significant correlation between nationality and the dependent variable. In the end, we analyzed the model in a separate sample to have a better understanding of each culture's impact on the result.  The result of using Indonesian sample and Dutch sample are presented in Table 3 and 4 respectively. After testing both samples separately, we found a slight change in the regression coefficient for all of the hypothesis. Regardless of this finding, there was no change in significance level.

One important remark is that we expected a significant result when testing two samples individually for hypothesis 1. This is due to the fact that study on culture proposes that the Western and Asian have different perspective on paradox mindset (Miron-Spektor et al., 2017). In particular, Asians tend to have a higher paradox mindset compared to Western since they are more likely to find harmony in dealing with tensions (Miron-Spektor et al., 2017). This finding is supported after performing a one-way ANOVA test to determine whether there is a significant difference that exist between the Indonesian and Dutch group on paradox mindset. The result was significant which implies Indonesian have a higher paradox mindset compared to Dutch. On the contrary, as shown in Table 3, the direct relationship between paradox mindset and creativity was negative for Indonesian sample. However, this negative relationship was also not significant (B = -.09, ns). The overall insignificant result may come from the small sample size for both nationalities; 85 for Indonesian sample and 60 for Dutch sample. This limitation will be examined further in the later part.


In this study, we discussed how employees could use paradox mindset to cope with tensions in the workplace. Moreover, we examined the relationship between paradox mindset and creativity through intrinsic motivation. The findings indicate that paradox mindset was positively related to intrinsic motivation. However, despite that we found a positive relationship between intrinsic motivation and creativity, the result was not significant.

Theoretical Contribution

Past research identified creativity as paradoxical (Miron-Spektor & Erez, 2017). In addition, prior study explained the mechanism to cope with tensions that intensify from resource scarcity (Miron-Spektor et al., 2017).  This research enriches both studies by specifically discussing one of the ways to cope with the specific type of tensions which resulted from the demand for employees to generating both useful and novelty idea. Furthermore, prior research emphasizes the importance of paradox mindset in innovation (creativity) and job performance (Miron-Spektor et al., 2017). This study takes a step forwards by explaining the mechanism underlying the relationship between paradox mindset and creativity through intrinsic motivation.

Our research contributes to paradox literature by showing that intrinsic motivation is determined not only by task characteristics, but also by individual's capability to construct a situation as a challenging way. In addition, this research also contributes to motivation literature. According to Self Determination Theory, feelings of competence, sense of autonomy, and relatedness can enhance individuals' intrinsic motivation because they satisfied the basic psychological needs (Ryan & Deci, 1985). Based on the result, this study managed to show that intrinsic motivation is also affected by a mindset of an individual.

Managerial Implication

Workplace tensions may reduce employees' productivity, leading to a potential loss for the company as a whole. Not only affecting business profitability, but tensions also may result in a serious effect on the employees' health. Therefore, managing tensions become one of the most important issues to be addressed in the workplace. This study proposes a mechanism to deal with tension in the field of creativity. The importance of having a paradox mindset also increases with the fact that it may result in employees' intrinsic motivation to be creative. Hence, managers can build awareness about the concept of paradox mindset to their employees and encourage them to apply the concept.

 Employees can learn and try to develop paradox mindset to strive in their job. One of the training programs that can be used to help employees to achieve conflicting goals is through emphasis change training. Emphasis change training teaches employees how to change priorities of the task during the implementation (Gopher, Weil and Siegel, 1989). By doing this training, employees are expected to enhance their attention control and performance (Gopher, 2007)

Limitations and Future Research

There are several limitations of this study that could be addressed in the future research.

First, in terms of the sample, the sample size of this study was relatively small. There are problems with using a small sample size, such as it may not accurately represent the population which will lower the chance of significance and it also may cause difficulties in determining whether the results come from real effect or just random variation. In addition, as mentioned earlier we used convenience sampling to collect the data. Despite the advantages of using convenience sampling, we are aware that there are some disadvantages that may affect the result which are low external validity (the result cannot be generalized) and the present of outliers (Mackey & Gass, 2005). Future studies should be aware of the cultural differences if the nationality turned out to have a significant correlation with the variable of interest. In addition, a better selection of sampling method that suits the study is also advised. Lastly, we strongly suggest future studies to use a larger sample size.

Second, our respondents consisted of teams. People within one team may have a similar answer to one of another. If respondents are nested within teams, their answers may be biased by the team membership, resulting in flawed regression parameters. To check whether nesting has an influence on the result, we conducted interclass correlation coefficient (ICC) test for creativity. The test result showed the ICC was bigger than 10%, meaning that multilevel regression should be performed to account for nesting when testing the hypotheses. Due to the time constraint, we could not conduct the multilevel regression. Hence, future research on this study should do the multilevel regression.

Third, we used a cross-sectional research design due to the limited time of the course. In this study, we only analyzed the data collected given a specific point of time. In other words, there was no time lag between the observations of dependent and independent variables that may cause reverse causality. We knew little about the direction of causality, for example, was it the paradox mindset that affected intrinsic motivation or the other way around. Therefore, a longitudinal or experiment study is encouraged in the future research to investigate the causal relationship.

Fourth, the creativity of the team members was based on the team leaders' rating. Thus, future studies are encouraged to use objective creative performance data to assess creativity of the employees to reduce bias in the evaluation.

  Fifth, we found an insignificant result from the mediating role of intrinsic motivation to explain the link between paradox mindset and creativity. A new mediator may be needed to explain the relationship better. In the theory section, we mentioned that individuals who have paradox mindset could form cognitive and emotional processes, leading to a greater level of creativity (Spektor & Erez, 2017). This is because paradox mindset expands individual's awareness scope and increase cognitive flexibility (Spektor & Erez, 2017). The dual pathway to creativity model suggested that creativity is an outcome of the cognitive flexibility and cognitive persistence (Nijstad, De Dreu, Rietzchel, & Baas, 2010). Therefore, cognitive flexibility may be used as a new mediator.

   Creative self-efficacy may also be an appropriate mediator to link the relationship. Paradox mindset enables individual to think in a complex and challenging way. Creative self-efficiency seems to give such force in that strong efficacy beliefs improve the determination level and adapting efforts people will exhibit when encountered by challenging conditions (Bandura, 1977). In addition, creative self-efficacy is proven to have an impact on employees' creativity as self-efficacy induces some of the cognitive components leading to creative efforts (Tierney & Farmer, 2002). Hence, we encourage future research to use cognitive flexibility or creative self-efficacy as a mediator for explaining the relationship between paradox mindset and creativity.


As today's business environment has a faster changing rate than before, the importance of creativity and innovation in the business are increasing. The need for the employees to generate both useful and novel ideas may create tensions in the workplace. This research suggests that paradox mindset enables employees to embrace the tensions as a challenge, engaging in creative activities with intrinsic motivation. The result of this study indicates that there was no influence of paradox mindset to creativity. However, we found that paradox mindset affects employees' intrinsic motivation. Given previous research has shown intrinsic motivation consistently predicts creative behaviors, our research motivates additional examination to further explain the relationship between paradox mindset and creativity.

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