Scholarly article on topic 'Organizational Support and Creativity: The Role of Developmental Experiences as a Moderator'

Organizational Support and Creativity: The Role of Developmental Experiences as a Moderator Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Hazril Izwar Ibrahim, Aerni Isa, Amirul Shah Md. Shahbudin

Abstract The study focuses on employees’ creativity as a source for organizational competitiveness in a highly globalized business environment. The study also proposes that creativity can only be achieved with support from the organization. Support comes in the form of developmental experiences provided by the organization for the employees. Perceived organizational support for creativity is the independent variable to creativity's dependent variable with developmental experiences as the moderator. Respondents for the study are 100 employees from the electrical/electronic manufacturing sector in Penang, Malaysia. The study found that the IV predicts the DV and developmental experiences’ role as a moderator is significant. The result indicates that support provided by the organization is a significant factor in generating creativity among their employees.

Academic research paper on topic "Organizational Support and Creativity: The Role of Developmental Experiences as a Moderator"

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Procedía Economics and Finance 35 (2016) 509 - 514

7th International Economics & Business Management Conference, 5th & 6th October 2015

Organizational Support and Creativity: The Role of Developmental

Experiences as a Moderator

Hazril Izwar Ibrahima*, Aerni Isab, Amirul Shah Md. Shahbudina

a School of Management, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800 Penang, Malaysia bDepartment of Management and Human Resources, UNITEN, 26700 Pahang, Malaysia

Abstract

The study focuses on employees' creativity as a source for organizational competitiveness in a highly globalized business environment. The study also proposes that creativity can only be achieved with support from the organization. Support comes in the form of developmental experiences provided by the organization for the employees. Perceived organizational support for creativity is the independent variable to creativity's dependent variable with developmental experiences as the moderator. Respondents for the study are 100 employees from the electrical/electronic manufacturing sector in Penang, Malaysia. The study found that the IV predicts the DV and developmental experiences' role as a moderator is significant. The result indicates that support provided by the organization is a significant factor in generating creativity among their employees.

©2016 The Authors.PublishedbyElsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license

(http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-reviewed under responsibility of Universiti Tenaga Nasional

Keywords: Organizational support; creativity; developmental experiences.

1. Introduction

In a dynamic business environment, employees' creativity is perceived to be a possible source of competitive advantage to their organizations. Creativity enables employees to enhance their organization's performance, where, creativity is utilized to seek out new technologies, processes, techniques or product ideas. Furthermore, creativity is

* Corresponding author. Tel.: + 60 4 6533888; fax: +604-653 6484. E-mail address: hazrilizwar@usm.my

2212-5671 © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license

(http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-reviewed under responsibility of Universiti Tenaga Nasional

doi:10.1016/S2212-5671(16)00063-0

considered as a good source of creative ideas and often has a fresh approach to problems. When organizations are bogged down by issues regarding technological changes or management structure, employees' views are sought to in order to for the organizations to arrive at the correct solutions. However, employees are hesitant in contributing their ideas, when they worry that their ideas may not be considered seriously or that an ill-conceived idea could be a hindrance for their career progress. Obviously in most organizations, a suitable system is required to allow employees to express their creativity. Thus, organizational support plays a major role in enhancing the creativity of employees where they will be motivated to upgrade the organization's performance and productivity. In reality, there are organizations that give insufficient support to their employees in terms of empowering employees and knowledge sharing.

Apart from organizational support for creativity, developmental experience is another important element in developing employees' capability and skills. Developmental experience consists of an organization's planned efforts to help employees acquire job-related knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviours with the goal of applying the knowledge and experience gained for their job performance. The rapid changes taking place in the modern business environment makes training more important today than it ever has been. Developmental experience can benefit the organization when it is linked to organizational needs and to provide motivation for employees. The problem arises when the employee is not ready from the aspect of physically and mentally and thus, it creates an assumption whether the developmental experience will lead to the increment of the level of creativity amongst employee. Employees may learn more from training programs when they are highly motivated to learn which means if only they are deeply interested in the training content. Employees tend to feel this way if they believe they are able to learn, see potential benefits from the training program, are aware of their need to learn, see a fit between the training and their career goals and have the basic skills needed for participating in the program. In fact, there is little acceptance by learners of the need to take responsibility for their own development. Therefore, it is important to understand the impact of perceived organizational support on employees' creativity and whether development experiences may moderate this relationship.

Based on the norms of reciprocity (Gouldner, 1960) and Coyle-Shapiro and Conway (2005) argued that organizational treatment creates a sense of felt obligation which motivates employees to put effort toward helping the organization achieve its goal. Pertaining to this, perceived organizational support (POS) is considered as construction of motivation (Liao et al., 2009). Employees who are motivated become physically involved in tasks, and emphatically connect to people as required by their job in ways that display what they feel (Kahn, 1990). According to social exchange theory, employees tend to respond back to the treatment which is beneficial that they receive with positive work-related behaviours. For example, research findings suggest that positive, beneficial actions directed at employees by the organization contribute to the establishment of high-quality exchange relationships (Konovsky & Pugh, 1994), which create obligations for employees to reciprocate in a positive and beneficial way to the organization (Eisenberger et al., 1986). Researchers have argued that when employees perceive a high level of organizational support, they may use behaviours valued by the organizations to reciprocate the benevolent treatment from the organization (Lambert, 2000). In customer facing occupations, prone to high levels of emotional labour, these organizationally valued behaviours may be manifested through the internalization of expected emotions as employees have a good faith intention to help the organization.

According to Majdar, Oldham and Pratt (2002) and Shalley et al. (2004) creativity is the prerequisite for an organization's innovation, effectiveness, and long-term survival and facilitates an organization's adjustment to shifting environmental conditions and to take advantage of emerging opportunities. Moreover, Warr (1994) identifies creativity as a form of active mental health which encompasses five types of active mental health: positive self-regard (e.g. high self-esteem), competence (e.g. effective coping), aspiration (e.g. goal directedness), autonomy/independence (e.g. proactivity), and integrated functioning (i.e. states involving balance and harmony). Since creativity and proactivity are closely related behaviours (Unsworth & Parker, 2003) and because individuals can gain positive self-regard, a feeling of competence, and a sense of independence by solving work problems in a creative way, creativity can be regarded as one form of active mental health (Warr, 1994).

Creativity at the individual employee level is considered to be the first step toward innovation at the organizational level (Amabile, 1988; West & Farr, 1990; Woodman et al., 1993). As creativity has been recognized as a key contributor to organizations' innovation, growth, and competitiveness, researchers in the field of organizational behaviour have devoted considerable effort to identifying personal and contextual factors, as well as factors related to employees' work environment, that promote creativity.

Firms gain competitive advantage by offering developmental experiences to employees, the most obvious being the utilization of skills and experiences that employees acquire during these experiences, which would likely increase the value of the employee to the organizations (Roberts et al., 2008). In other words, by providing such experiences to the employees, the organizations are proving that they value the contributions and are concerned with the skill enhancement of their employees despite the economic situation. Training and development help an organization in optimizing the utilization of human resources, which further helps employees to achieve organizational goals, as well as their individual goals. Guzzo et al. (1985) expressed the view that training program is the most powerful activity among many organizational interventions. The goal of training is to enable employees to master the knowledge, skills and behaviours emphasized in training programs and to apply them to their day-to-day activities. Training serves to improve the performance of employees, which, in turn, provides a competitive edge to the organization (Schraeder, 2009).

Employees are more engaged in creativity if the organization affirms creativity as valuable to the organization, communicates these values, and then institutes a culture that reinforces these values and creativity management is managed (Choi, et al., 2010). Perceiving organizational support is provided satisfies employees' social emotional needs. This belief of organizational support also improves employees' voluntary citizenship behaviours because the basis of social exchange is founded on the trust and goodwill built up in between the two parties of exchange (Eisenberger et al., 1986; Rhoades & Eisenberger, 2002; Yoon & Suh, 2004). In addition to citing access to resources, organizational support and creativity is the degree to which an employee perceives that, when compared with the developmental experience, the organization encourages, respects, rewards, and recognizes those who produce creative ideas at work. If the organization provides high levels of support for creativity, then it will direct employees' attention toward being proactive in dealing with uncertainties and change and toward generating new ideas and new ways of doing things to adapt and improve. This will help restore their senses of control over their environment and destiny, and it will help to repair their diminished intrinsic motivation which should result in higher levels of creativity (McLean, 2005).

Work experiences and continuous learning play an important role in staff development. McCall et al (1988) concluded that work experiences contributing to development and career advancement involve supervisors, mentors and peers acting together, and they usually occur spontaneously and informally on the job. Developmental experiences should be regarded as an institutionalized investment in employees. Development opportunities generate intensive learning through job changes where the new role involves unfamiliar responsibilities, through learning new task-related skills, and through handling pressures and obstacles (McCauley et al., 1994). According to Chow et al (2006) there are always many opportunities for development on the job. Examples include supervisors' formal and informal assignments of duties and trying new activities so as to strengthen new skills. On-the-job development and learning opportunities occur informally in daily operations such as coaching or receiving advice from supervisors, peers, and technical experts as well as experiences of sharing within the firm. Results from previous studies confirm that developmental experience has a positive impact on service quality and performance (Donnellan, 1996; Harris & Bonn, 2000).

Thus, the hypotheses formulated for the study are:

• Hypothesis 1: Perceived Organizational Support for Creativity is significantly related to employee creativity.

• Hypothesis 2: Developmental experience moderates the relationship between Perceived Organizational Support Creativity and Employee Creativity.

2. Method

2.1 Participants

The sample populations for the study are the employees working in electrical/electronic manufacturing firms in Penang, Malaysia. The unit of analysis is individual. The sample size for our research is 100 respondents. Due to the limited time and to obtain sufficient respondents, convenient sampling of non-probability sampling method has been used.

2.2 Instruments

Perceived Organisational Support for Creativity: this variable was measured using the four-item scale adopted from Scott and Bruce (1994). All responses were provided in the form of a five-point Likert scale (1= not at all; 5= to a very large extent). Developmental Experiences: this variable was measured using the four-item scale developed by Wayne, Shore, Bommer and Tetrick (1997). This scale assesses employees' beliefs regarding whether or not the ir organization provides challenging assignments, projects that develop new skills, management help with development and formal training and development opportunities. Consistent with Wayne et al. (1997), all responses were provided in the form of a five-point Likert scale (1= not at all; 5= to a very large extent). Creativity: this variable was measured with 13 items adopted from Zhou and George (2001). It ranges from 1= not at all characteristic to 5= very characteristic.

2.3 Procedure

The questionnaires were distributed to the respondents during Soft Skills workshops conducted at Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) Training Centre in Bayan Baru, Penang. There were six seminars, with each seminar attended by 25 participants working in the Bayan Lepas Industrial Free Trade Zone in the manufacturing sector. The pre-condition for the participants to enable them to attend the workshops is that they must have a degree. The surveys were distributed at the beginning of the seminar and collected at the end of the seminar. Out of the 150 surveys distributed during the workshops, 100 were returned completed.

2.4 Statistical Analysis

To test the hypotheses, hierarchical regression analysis property of the SPSS version 20 was used to test both direct effects and moderating effects in the relationship between the variables.

3. Results

Table 1. ANOVA

Model Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sig.

1 Regression 9.551 2 4.775 31.662 .000

Residual 14.630 97 .151

Total 24.180 99

2 Regression 10.140 3 3.380 23.110 .000

Residual 14.041 96 .146

Total 24.180 99

Table 2. Model Summary

Model R R Square R2Change Sig F Change

1 0.628 0.395 0.395 0.000

2 0.648 0.419 0.024 0.048

To test the hypothesis that POS is a function of Creativity and more specifically whether Developmental Experiences moderates the relationship between POS and Creativity, a hierarchical multiple regression analysis was conducted. In the first step two variables were included: POS and Developmental Experiences. These variables accounted for a significant amount of variance in Creativity, R2=0.395, F (2, 97) = 31.66, /><.001. Next, the interaction term between POS and Developmental Experience was added to the regression model, which accounted for a significant proportion of the variance in Creativity, AR2=0.024, AF (3, 96) =4.028, /=.001.

Thus, the results obtained from the hierarchical multiple regression indicate that there is support for Hypothesis 1, meaning POS is significantly related to Creativity. Hypothesis 2 is also supported as the result shows that Developmental Experience significantly moderates the relationship between POS and Creativity.

4. Discussion and conclusion

The study attempted to investigate how organizational support for creativity contributes towards employee's creativity and how such relationship is influenced by the developmental experiences of the employees. Previous theory and research on creativity suggest that organizational support for creativity directs employees' attention toward creative activities and encourages them to be creative. Furthermore, experiences from challenging assignments, on-the-job training and coaching lead to personal growth and development, promotion opportunities, learning opportunities, and opportunities to exercise independent judgment in the work setting; has been identified to motivate and enhance employee's skills, knowledge and capability. Indirectly, when an organization provides their employees with the opportunity to develop and upgrade their skills and knowledge, this implies that the organization provides support for their employees to become knowledge workers. When employees perceive that supports them through the training and coaching activities provided, this motivates them to be more creative at the workplace.

The significant results from both hypotheses indicate that when the employees perceived there is support for creativity from the organization and that positive perception is increased with developmental experiences and exposure provided by the organization. Indirectly, this implies that organizations which allow their employees to be creative in their work roles and willing to provide the necessary facilities, infrastructure and training to them will result in creative thinking and action among the employees. Organizations will benefit from the flow of creativity which stems from their employees, as these will result in increased productivity and performance.

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