Friday, December 19, 2008

The Components of Creativity Part 3; Motivation

Whilst expertise and creative skills are representative of what a person can do, motivation represents what the individual chooses to do. As such, motivation is less susceptible to external influence than expertise and creative skills, but is itself capable of influencing any decision to develop said skills. Whilst attitudes towards work will vary from one employee to the next, many authors are in agreement that Intrinsic Motivation is more conducive to creativity than Extrinsic Motivation.

Intrinsic motivation represents internal gratification as the driver of goal pursuit; in other words intrinsic motivation reflects self-fulfilment through one’s work. Those that have an active interest in creativity are significantly more likely to show willingness to pursue creativity. It is important that these individuals are encouraged to recognise self-fulfilment through creative output. Although the componential model of creativity recognises the importance of expertise and creative thinking, it has been noted that deficits in either may be overcome by a highly intrinsically motivated employee. This is recognised by Amabile thus:

“People will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself – and not by external pressures” (1998, p. 79)

Although every organisation should strive to create intrinsic motivation within the workforce, extrinsic motivation should not be discounted in its entirety. Indeed, whilst recognising the creative importance of intrinsic motivation, Amabile similarly acknowledges the effects of specific extrinsic motivation:

“Intrinsic motivation is conducive to creativity. Controlling extrinsic motivation is detrimental to creativity, but informational or enabling motivation can be conducive, particularly if initial levels of intrinsic motivation are high” (1997, p. 46)

Extrinsic Motivators represent external rewards, recognition, and feedback that either confirm competencies, or provide information pertaining to performance improvement. Similarly, Enabling Extrinsic Motivators represent external rewards, recognition, and feedback that increase the employee’s involvement with the work. An example of such recognition may be an increased allocation of resources in acknowledgement of outstanding performance. These extrinsic motivators, collectively known as Synergistic Extrinsic Motivators, will encourage creativity, both through enhancing levels of intrinsic motivation, and by creating competition amongst the workforce; a fact which Cummings and Oldham suggest does not detract from creative offerings. Conversely, Controlling Extrinsic Motivators aim to control motivation. Examples include the imposing of rigid procedures designed to control project direction.

Such attempts to control motivation levels are likely to backfire, reducing the intrinsic motivation present in the workforce prior to the event. Clearly, it is important to foster creativity within the organisation. In order to effectively encourage employee motivation to innovate, the organisation must focus on developing an Environment of Creativity.

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