The Curvilinear Relation Between Experienced Creative Time Pressure and
Creativity: Moderating Effects of Openness to Experience
and Support for Creativity
Markus Baer and Greg R. Oldham
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
This study examined the possibility of a curvilinear relation between the creative time pressure
employees experience at work and their creativity. The authors also examined whether this curvilinear
relation was moderated by employees’ scores on the openness to experience personality dimension and
by the support for creativity employees received from supervisors and coworkers. Data were obtained
from 170 employees and 10 supervisors of a manufacturing organization. Results showed an inverted
U-shaped creative time pressure-creativity relation for employees who scored high on openness to
experience while simultaneously receiving support for creativity. The authors discussed the implications
of these results for future research and practice.
Keywords: creativity, time pressure, openness to experience, support
Substantial evidence now suggests that employee creativity
makes an important contribution to organizational innovation,
competitiveness, and survival (Nonaka, 1991). As a consequence,
there has been increasing interest in identifying the contextual
conditions that influence such creativity (see Shalley, Zhou, &
Oldham, 2004). One condition that is frequently mentioned in this
literature is the time pressure employees experience at work (see
Amabile, 1996). Specifically, commentators suggest that the ex-
perience of high time pressure stifles creativity by reducing the
extent to which employees engage in exploratory thinking and by
causing them to rely on familiar algorithms when approaching
problems (see Andrews & Smith, 1996).
Unfortunately, the few studies that have tested this idea have
produced results that are generally weak and inconclusive (e.g.,
Amabile, Conti, Coon, Lazenby, & Herron, 1996; Madjar & Old-
ham, 2006). For example, Andrews and Smith (1996) showed that
product managers who experienced high time pressure developed
marketing programs low in creativity. However, Andrews and
Farris (1972) found positive relations between scientists’ per-
ceived time pressure to complete their work and the “innovative-
ness” of that work. But Amabile and Gryskiewicz (1989) found a
nonsignificant relation between experienced time pressure and the
creativity of employees from five different groups (e.g., govern-
ment lab, educational institution).
One factor that may have contributed to the pattern of results
obtained in these earlier studies involves the way time pressure
was measured. Most previous research assessed the overall amount
of time pressure employees experienced at work, which may or
may not have captured the extent to which they experienced
pressure with respect to creativity. Specifically, while a measure of
overall time pressure may reflect employees’ perceptions regard-
ing pressure for creative pursuits in cases where creativity is an
essential component of employees’ jobs, this may not be the case
in situations where creativity is less central to employees’ daily
routines. In such circumstances, overall and creative pressures may
capture different aspects of experienced time pressure at work—
employees may not necessarily feel high levels of overall time
pressure in their jobs, but may still feel that they have little time
available to pursue creative activities. This ambiguity with respect
to the specific aspect of pressure being measured may have con-
tributed to the pattern of inconsistent results obtained in previous
studies examining the time pressure-creativity relation.
Our study addresses this issue by examining the relation be-
tween employee creativity and a specific form of time pressure that
should be particularly relevant to creativity: experienced creative
time pressure (i.e., the extent to which employees feel they have
insufficient time to develop creative ideas at work). In addition, we
examine the possibility that the relation between creative time
pressure and creativity is curvilinear in nature—not linear as
suggested by previous research. Activation theory (Gardner &
Cummings, 1988) and earlier research on constructs related to time
pressure (e.g., job tension and job demands; Janssen, 2001; Ziv-
nuska, Kiewitz, Hochwater, Perrewe, & Zellars, 2002) suggest that
the shape of an inverted U might best characterize the time
pressure-creativity relation. Finally, based on an interactionist per-
spective (Woodman & Schoenfeldt, 1989, 1990), we also examine
the possibility that dimensions of employee personality and the
social environment (i.e., openness to experience and support for
creativity) moderate the curvilinear creative time pressure-
We propose that individuals who experience intermediate cre-
ative time pressure should be fully engaged in their activities at
work (Freedman & Edwards, 1988), leading to greater exploration
of ideas and experimentation with novel approaches to solving
Markus Baer and Greg R. Oldham, Department of Business Adminis-
tration, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Beginning August 1, 2006, Markus Baer will be Assistant Professor,
Olin School of Business, Washington University in St. Louis, 1 Brookings
Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130-4899.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Markus
Baer, Department of Business Administration, University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign, IL 61820. E-mail: email@example.com
Journal of Applied Psychology
2006, Vol. 91, No. 4, 963–970
Copyright 2006 by the American Psychological Association
0021-9010/06/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.91.4.963
problems, ultimately resulting in high creativity (Zhou & Shalley,
2003). However, the degree to which individuals actually respond
with high creativity to elevated engagement and intermediate
pressure may depend upon two conditions. The first is the extent
to which employees are able to draw upon a variety of perspectives
and approaches. The larger the pool of perspectives available to
individuals, the greater the likelihood that heightened exploration
and experimentation will result in the generation of creative ideas.
Previous research suggests that employees high on the openness to
experience personality dimension have access to a variety of
different approaches and perspectives (McCrae & Costa, 1997)
and, therefore, should be more likely to exhibit high creativity in
response to intermediate pressure. The second condition is the
extent to which creativity is encouraged and valued by the orga-
nization. When employees receive assistance and encouragement
for their creative efforts and perceive creativity to be valued by the
organization, they should be more likely to persist in their idea
generation efforts, resulting in further exploration and refinement
of creative ideas. Earlier research suggests that support for cre-
ativity by supervisors and coworkers not only provides such as-
sistance and encouragement but also signals that the organization
values creativity (Scott & Bruce, 1994; Tierney & Farmer, 2004).
Hence, we expect employees who experience intermediate creative
time pressure to exhibit high creativity when support for creativity
Experienced Creative Time Pressure and Creativity
Creativity refers to the production of ideas about products,
practices, processes, or procedures that are (a) novel and (b)
potentially useful to the organization (Amabile, 1996). Based on
activation theory (Gardner & Cummings, 1988; Scott, 1966), the
present study examines the possibility that both high and low
levels of experienced creative time pressure restrict creativity,
whereas intermediate pressure enhances it resulting in a curvilin-
ear, inverted U-shaped function. Activation theory posits a linear
relation between time pressure and experienced activation—that is,
the greater the creative time pressure employees perceive, the
higher their experienced activation (Gardner, 1990). When cre-
ative time pressure and activation are at intermediate levels, indi-
viduals are assumed to be “optimally stimulated” since such levels
match their “characteristic” levels of activation (Gardner & Cum-
mings, 1988). Further, when employees are optimally stimulated,
they should be fully engaged in their activities at work (Freedman
& Edwards, 1988). By contrast, low or high levels of creative time
pressure and activation are assumed to deviate from employees’
characteristic levels, resulting in suboptimal stimulation and lower
engagement (Singh, 1998; Zivnuska et al., 2002).
Employees’ engagement in their activities at work has important
implications for their creativity. Previous research indicates that
individuals who are engaged in what they do are not only more
curious but also more willing to take risks, such as engaging in
exploratory behaviors and experimentation—all of which should
facilitate creativity (see Zhou & Shalley, 2003). Conversely, em-
ployees who are less engaged in their activities at work as a result
of creative time pressure that is either too high or too low are
expected to exhibit relatively low creativity.
Although previous research has not directly examined the pos-
sibility of a curvilinear creative time pressure-creativity relation, a
number of studies have confirmed the existence of inverted
U-shaped relations between measures of overall time pressure (or
related constructs) and a range of employee responses (e.g., Bas-
chera & Grandjean, 1979; Janssen, 2001; Pepinsky, Pepinsky, &
Pavlik, 1960). Zivnuska et al., (2002) found an inverted U-shaped
relation between the job tension employees experienced and their
job satisfaction. In a laboratory study involving anagram tasks,
Freedman and Edwards (1988) showed that the highest perfor-
mance occurred at intermediate levels of time pressure and that
similar inverted U-shaped relations emerged for outcomes such as
enjoyment and satisfaction. Thus,
Hypothesis 1. There will be an inverted U-shaped relation
between experienced creative time pressure and creativity.
Openness to Experience Moderating the Curvilinear
Creative Time Pressure-Creativity Relation
Based on early theory and research (e.g., Amabile, 1996; Wood-
man & Schoenfeldt, 1989, 1990), we investigate the possibility
that the proposed curvilinear creative time pressure-creativity re-
lation is moderated by the openness to experience personality
dimension. Openness to experience is associated with the Five
Factor Model (Costa & McCrae, 1992) and captures the extent to
which individuals are broad-minded, curious, imaginative, and
original (McCrae, 1987). According to McCrae and Costa (1997),
open individuals are highly motivated to actively seek out new and
varied experiences. Rather than being passive recipients of new
experiences, open individuals are in a constant quest of unfamiliar
situations characterized by a high degree of novelty, as a result of
which, they have access to a variety of ideas and perspectives.
Although openness has been found to be positively related to
creativity across several domains (Feist, 1998), recent studies of
organizational settings show rather weak relations and suggest that
the effects of openness on creativity might vary by contextual
condition (Andrews & Smith, 1996; Burke & Witt, 2002). For
example, George and Zhou (2001) found a nonsignificant relation
between openness and employee creativity, but demonstrated that
it interacted with feedback valence and the nature of tasks to affect
creativity. Findings from other studies provide additional support
for such a moderating role of openness (see Shalley et al., 2004).
The current study extends this earlier work by examining
whether openness moderates the curvilinear relation between cre-
ative time pressure and creativity. Based on activation theory, we
argued that individuals who experience intermediate time pressure
should be fully engaged in their work activities and, as a conse-
quence, more likely to explore different ideas and experiment with
novel approaches to solving problems. However, if this heightened
exploration and experimentation is to result in elevated creativity,
individuals need to be able to draw upon a wide array of perspec-
tives and approaches. Access to a number of different perspectives
provides individuals with the kind of raw material that is necessary
to convert heightened exploration and experimentation into truly
novel ideas. Due to their active motivation to seek out the unfa-
miliar and new, open individuals have access to a variety of
experiences and perspectives (McCrae & Costa, 1997) and, there-
fore, should respond with elevated creativity to intermediate time
pressure. By contrast, employees low on openness should be less
likely to benefit from the heightened exploration and experimen-
tation associated with intermediate creative time pressure.
BAER AND OLDHAM
No previous study has directly examined these arguments. How-
ever, earlier research does suggest that personal characteristics
moderate curvilinear relations between job conditions related to
overall time pressure and several employee responses (e.g., Cham-
poux, 1980; Xie & Johns, 1995). Champoux (1992) showed that
the curvilinear relation between job scope and job satisfaction was
moderated by employees’ growth need strength. Thus,
Hypothesis 2. Openness to experience will moderate the in-
verted U-shaped relation between experienced creative time
pressure and creativity such that employees who score high
on openness will exhibit higher creativity in response to
intermediate pressure than those who score low on openness.
Support for Creativity Moderating the Curvilinear
Creative Time Pressure-Creativity Relation
Based on earlier theory and research (Champoux, 1992; Wood-
man & Schoenfeldt, 1990), we also examine whether one dimen-
sion of the social environment, support for creativity, moderates
the proposed curvilinear creative time pressure-creativity relation.
Support for creativity refers to the extent to which supervisors and
coworkers encourage employees to develop and refine creative
ideas (Madjar, Oldham, & Pratt, 2002). Previous work suggests
that such support not only provides employees with the encour-
agement and assistance necessary to engage the idea generation
process, but also conveys expectations that creativity is expected
and valued by the organization (Ford, 1996; Scott & Bruce, 1994).
For example, Tierney and Farmer (2004) showed that employees
who perceived their supervisors as supportive of their creative
efforts came to believe that creativity was an expected and valued
aspect of their performance.
Although most previous studies concerned with support for
creativity have shown that it has positive relations to employee
creativity, a few studies have failed to produce evidence support-
ing such a link (Shalley et al., 2004). For example, Zhou (2003)
found a nonsignificant relation between employee creativity and
supervisor developmental feedback, but demonstrated that feed-
back interacted with the presence of creative coworkers to affect
creativity. This latter study, along with several others (see Shalley
et al., 2004), suggests that support from supervisors and coworkers
may serve to moderate the effects of contextual conditions on
Extending this line of research, the present study examines the
moderating role of support for creativity on the proposed curvi-
linear creative time pressure-creativity relation. We argued earlier
that employees who experience intermediate time pressure should
be engaged in their activities at work and, as a result, explore and
experiment with novel ideas and approaches to solving problems.
The degree to which such exploration translates into elevated
creativity, however, may depend upon the extent to which employ-
ees persist in their idea generation efforts. Exploring and experi-
menting with new and alternative routes to solving problems
generally requires employees to refine and expand on their initial
ideas or solutions to ensure that they adequately address a given
problem and are suitable for later implementation. Support for
creativity not only provides employees with the necessary encour-
agement and tangible assistance (e.g., opportunities to discuss
ideas in order to refine them), but also conveys the expectation that
the organization values creativity—all of which should facilitate
the extent to which employees persist in their creative endeavors
(Zhou & George, 2001). Hence, we expect employees who receive
substantial support for creativity to respond with relatively high
creativity to intermediate creative time pressure. Conversely, with-
out a supportive social environment, the ideas employees produce
in response to moderate pressure may not be developed to their
fullest potential because employees may not persist in their ex-
ploratory efforts, ultimately resulting in lower creativity.
Although no previous study has directly examined these ideas,
earlier research does suggest that environmental characteristics
moderate curvilinear relations between job conditions related to
time pressure and several employee responses (e.g., Champoux,
1981, 1992). Janssen (2001) found that effort-reward fairness
moderated curvilinear relations between perceived job demands
and both standard and innovative performance. Thus,
Hypothesis 3. Support for creativity will moderate the in-
verted U-shaped relation between experienced creative time
pressure and creativity such that employees who receive high
levels of support will exhibit higher creativity in response to
intermediate pressure than those who receive low levels of
Research Setting and Participants
The research was conducted in two departments of an organization that
produced cereals. A manager gave us permission to conduct a study
concerning the effects of personal and contextual conditions on employee
creativity and indicated that all employees in the organization had the
opportunity to exhibit creativity in the workplace. Employees were allowed
to participate as long as participation was voluntary. We contacted the
employees of both departments (N ? 211); 170 agreed to participate (81%
response rate). Participants held 1 of 20 different jobs (e.g., process and
packaging operator and business unit advisor). The average age was 42
years, the modal education level was “high school degree,” and 20% were
Employees completed questionnaires in groups of 5–15 in a room with
the first author present. The questionnaires included items assessing edu-
cation, experienced creative time pressure, openness to experience, and
support for creativity. Before completing questionnaires, employees were
assigned code numbers and were assured that all information provided
would be kept confidential. Information about employees’ age, sex, and job
was collected from archival records. Primary supervisors (N ? 10) in a
position to observe the creativity of their employees completed a question-
naire assessing the creativity of each employee supervised. Additionally,
the organization’s manager indicated that seven of the supervisors were in
a position to observe and judge the creativity of certain participating
employees they did not directly supervise. These supervisors provided a
second creativity rating for 35 participants.
Experienced Creative Time Pressure.
items derived from the Innovation Climate Questionnaire (Innovation
Centre Europe, 2000) and from those suggested by Basadur, Taggar, and
Pringle (1999). Sample items include: Thinking of new ideas takes time I
don’t have; I don’t have much time for thinking up wild ideas—I am too
busy just getting my job done. Items were rated on a scale that ranged from
This was measured using five
TIME PRESSURE AND CREATIVITY
“strongly disagree” (1) to “strongly agree” (7) and were averaged to form
Openness to Experience.
This was measured with eight items derived
from the “openness to experience” scale from the International Personality
Item Pool, a broad-bandwidth, public domain, personality inventory mea-
suring the lower-level facets of several five-factor models (Goldberg,
1999). Items were rated on a scale that ranged from “very inaccurate” (1)
to “very accurate” (7) and were averaged to form an index. Sample items
include: I get excited by new ideas; I am not interested in abstract ideas
Support for Creativity.
Ten items derived from those developed by
Madjar et al. (2002) were averaged to create a measure of supervisor or
coworker support for creativity. Items were rated on a scale that ranged
from “strongly disagree” (1) to “strongly agree” (7). Sample items include:
My [supervisors] support experimentation with new methods and ways of
doing things; My coworkers discuss my work-related ideas with me in
order to improve them.
Supervisors assessed each employee’s creativity using four
items derived from those developed by Zhou and George (2001): Suggests
many creative ideas that might improve working conditions at [organiza-
tion]; Often comes up with creative solutions to problems at work; Sug-
gests new ways of performing work tasks; Is a good source of creative
ideas. Items were rated on a scale that ranged from “strongly disagree” (1)
to “strongly agree” (7) and were averaged to form an index for each
Using the same four items, each of the seven secondary supervisors
evaluated the creativity of one or more participants from a set of 35. We
used these ratings to establish interrater reliability, which has seldom been
examined in studies of creativity in organizations (see Shalley et al., 2004).
We first averaged the secondary supervisor’s responses to the items (? ?
.98) and then calculated the intraclass correlation coefficient, which is
equivalent to Cronbach’s alpha (Shrout & Fleiss, 1979). The coefficient
was .71, indicating that supervisors were generally consistent in their
ratings. For the 35 employees for whom we had multiple ratings, we
averaged the two ratings and used this index in all analyses. For the
remaining 135 employees, we used the primary supervisor creativity rating.
To reduce the likelihood that other variables likely
to affect creativity would confound the relations examined in this research,
our analyses controlled for employee education and job complexity. Pre-
vious research suggests that education has positive effects on creativity
(Farmer, Tierney, & Kung-McIntyre, 2003; Mumford & Gustafson, 1988;
Zhou, 2003). Therefore, we measured education on a scale that ranged
from “grade school” (0) to “master’s or higher degree” (8). Also, since
complex jobs might provide more opportunities to exhibit creativity than
simple jobs (Tierney & Farmer, 2002), two managers rated each of the 20
jobs on two items suggested by Oldham, Cummings, Mischel, Schmidtke,
and Zhou (1995): Overall, how complex is this job?; Overall, how much
training is required for a person to successfully complete this job? Scale
anchors were “not at all complex” (1) and “very complex” (7) for the first
item and “very little training required” (1) and “a great deal of training
required” (7) for the second. Cronbach’s alphas for the managers were .98
and .97. The intraclass correlation coefficient was .95, and the ratings were
averaged to form a job complexity index.
As shown in Table 1, experienced creative time pressure was
negatively related to openness to experience (r ? –.27, p ? .01)
and support for creativity (r ? –.24, p ? .01). Openness correlated
positively with support (r ? .31, p ? .01). Finally, creativity was
related positively to job complexity (r ? .17, p ? .05) and
negatively to time pressure (r ? –.24, p ? .01).
Table 2 presents the results of the moderated hierarchical re-
gression analysis used to test our hypotheses. After centering our
independent variables (Aiken & West, 1991), we introduced into a
regression equation the control variables (step 1), the main effect
variables (step 2), and to control for potential linear trends, the
linear two-way and three-way interactions (step 3). Next, to test
our prediction that experienced creative time pressure would have
a curvilinear relation to creativity (Hypothesis 1), we introduced
the quadratic experienced creative time pressure term in step 4 of
the regression equation. As shown in Table 2, the coefficient
associated with this term was statistically nonsignificant (? ?
–.04, p ? .05), and Hypothesis 1 is rejected.
We hypothesized that openness to experience would moderate
the inverted U-shaped experienced creative time pressure-
creativity relation (Hypothesis 2). To test this hypothesis we in-
troduced the relevant quadratic-by-linear interaction (experienced
creative time pressure2? openness to experience) in step 5 of the
regression equation. The coefficient associated with this interac-
tion term was statistically nonsignificant (? ? –.07, p ? .05), and
Hypothesis 2 is rejected.
Finally, we predicted that support for creativity would moderate
the inverted U-shaped relation between experienced creative time
pressure and creativity (Hypothesis 3). To test this hypothesis we
introduced the relevant interaction term (experienced creative time
pressure2? support for creativity) in step 6 of the equation shown
in Table 2. Consistent with Hypothesis 3, the coefficient associated
with this term was statistically significant (? ? –.28, p ? .05).
An inspection of the interaction plot (see Figure 1) revealed that
the relation between creative time pressure and creativity followed
an inverted U-shaped function for employees receiving high sup-
port for creativity. In addition, under conditions of intermediate
time pressure, employees reporting high support exhibited higher
creativity than those receiving less support.
Means, Standard Deviations, and Correlations Among All Variables
2. Job complexity
3. Experienced creative time pressure
4. Openness to experience
5. Support for creativity
reliability estimates (Cronbach’s alpha).
* p ? .05. ** p ? .01 (two-tailed).
N ranges between 161 and 170 due to missing data. Values in parentheses along the diagonal are
BAER AND OLDHAM
We further analyzed this interaction by evaluating simple
slopes. As suggested by Aiken and West (1991), we estimated
simple slopes at three levels of experienced creative time pressure:
low (one standard deviation below the maximum of the regression
curve), intermediate (maximum of the regression curve), and high
(one standard deviation above the maximum of the curve). Results
indicated that when support for creativity was high, the simple
slope of the regression curve had a positive, nonsignificant value
for low creative time pressure (b ? .90, t ? 1.28, p ? .05), did not
differ significantly from zero at intermediate pressure (b ? –.14,
t ? –.41, p ? .05), and had a significant negative value for high
pressure (b ? ?1.18, t ? ?2.59, p ? .05). When support was low,
the simple slopes of the regression line did not differ significantly
from zero (ps ? .05) at low, intermediate, or high levels of
experienced creative time pressure. In total, these results provide
support for Hypothesis 3.
Post hoc Analyses
Although our results failed to provide support for the moderat-
ing role of openness to experience on the curvilinear creative time
pressure-creativity relation, previous research and theory (e.g.,
Champoux, 1992; Woodman & Schoenfeldt, 1989, 1990) suggest
that dimensions of personality and the social environment might
combine to moderate the effects of contextual factors such as time
pressure. Therefore, we explored the possibility that openness to
experience and support for creativity jointly moderate the curvi-
linear time pressure-creativity relation.
We tested this idea by introducing the relevant three-way qua-
dratic interaction term (experienced creative time pressure2?
openness to experience ? support for creativity) in step 7 of the
regression equation shown in Table 2. The coefficient associated
with this term was statistically significant (? ? –.56, p ? .05).1
Figure 2 shows that the relation between creative time pressure
and creativity followed an inverted U-shaped function for employ-
ees who received substantial support for creativity and who were
open to experience. The Figure also shows that under conditions of
intermediate time pressure, employees scoring high on both sup-
port and openness exhibited higher creativity than those who
received less support, were less open, or both. For these latter
combinations, the time pressure-creativity relation did not follow
the shape of an inverted U but was slightly negative.
Additional analyses revealed that in the case of high support for
creativity and high openness to experience, the simple slope of the
regression curve had a significant positive value for low experi-
enced creative time pressure (b ? 1.90, t ? 2.24, p ? .05), did not
differ significantly from zero at intermediate pressure (b ? .24, t ?
.69, p ? .05), and showed a significant negative value for high
pressure (b ? ?1.44, t ? ?2.70, p ? .01). In all remaining cases,
the simple slopes of the regression lines generally did not differ
significantly from zero (ps ? .05) at low, intermediate, or high
levels of pressure.2
1We repeated all substantive analyses using the primary supervisor
ratings only (rather than averaging the scores provided by both primary and
secondary supervisors for the 35 employees). Results obtained in these
analyses were virtually identical to those reported in Table 2.
2Additional tests of differences between predicted values on creativity
(Aiken & West, 1991) revealed no significant differences between em-
ployees in the high openness/low support, low openness/high support, and
low openness/low support conditions, indicating that individuals in these
conditions exhibited similar levels of creativity in response to increasing
levels of experienced creative time pressure.
Results of Hierarchical Regression Analyses
Experienced creative time pressure
Openness to experience
Support for creativity
Experienced creative time pressure ? Openness to experience
Experienced creative time pressure ? Support for creativity
Openness to experience ? Support for creativity
Experienced creative time pressure ? Openness to experience ? Support for creativity
Experienced creative time pressure2
Experienced creative time pressure2? Openness to experience
Experienced creative time pressure2? Support for creativity
Experienced creative time pressure2? Openness to experience ? Support for creativity
* p ? .05.
N ? 161 after listwise deletion. Standardized regression coefficients are reported for the step indicated. R2and F for the full model are 0.16 and
** p ? .01 (two-tailed).
TIME PRESSURE AND CREATIVITY
This study examined the possibility of an inverted U-shaped rela-
tion between experienced creative time pressure and creativity, and
whether openness to experience and support for creativity moderated
this relation. Although our results failed to show a simple curvilinear
relation, or an independent moderating effect of openness, we did find
that support for creativity moderated the inverted U-shaped relation
exhibited relatively high creativity when they experienced intermedi-
ate creative time pressure and received considerable support for cre-
ativity from supervisors and coworkers.
In addition to this independent moderating effect of support, we
found that openness to experience combined with support to fur-
ther modify the curvilinear creative time pressure-creativity rela-
tion. That is, our results showed an inverted U-shaped function
between time pressure and creativity for employees receiving
substantial support for creativity and scoring high on openness to
experience. By contrast, for individuals who received little support
for creativity, were less open to experience, or both, increases in
experienced creative time pressure generally had little effect on
creativity. Although we hypothesized that open employees would
be highly creative under conditions of intermediate pressure be-
cause they are able to draw upon a wide array of perspectives when
engaging in exploratory behaviors and experimentation, this the-
orizing appears to be incomplete. Only when the social environ-
ment provides the support necessary for employees to persist in
their creative efforts, did openness moderate the creative time
pressure-creativity relation. Under conditions of low support, low
openness, or both, it is likely that individuals either do not have
access to the variety of perspectives necessary to exhibit creativity
when experimenting with ideas or that they do not receive the
support needed to further explore and refine their ideas.
Our results are consistent with those obtained in previous stud-
ies showing curvilinear relations between contextual variables
Curvilinear interaction of experienced creative time pressure and support for creativity on creativity.
creativity on creativity.
Curvilinear interaction of experienced creative time pressure, openness to experience, and support for
BAER AND OLDHAM
(e.g., overall time pressure and job demands) and different attitu-
dinal and behavioral outcomes (Champoux, 1992; Freedman &
Edwards, 1988; Janssen, 2001). Like these earlier studies, we too
found that certain circumstances influenced the likelihood with
which inverted U-shaped relations occurred. Intermediate creative
time pressure might not be sufficient to elicit creative responses.
These findings underscore the need for researchers to identify the
personal and social characteristics that moderate curvilinear rela-
tions between job conditions and work outcomes.
Similar to earlier research concerned with creativity in the
workplace and the possible role of openness to experience and
support (e.g., George & Zhou, 2001; Zhou, 2003), our results
indicated that both openness to experience and support for creativ-
ity had only weak, direct relations to employee creativity but
served to jointly interact with a contextual condition—creative
time pressure—to multiplicatively affect such creativity. Our re-
sults, along with those obtained in earlier investigations, empha-
size the importance of considering the interactive effects of con-
textual, social, and personality variables when examining
creativity at work. Although earlier theory had alluded to the
possibility of openness, support, and time pressure interacting to
jointly affect creativity (Woodman & Schoenfeldt, 1989; Wood-
man, Sawyer, & Griffin, 1993), and each characteristic had been
investigated separately in previous investigations (e.g., Amabile &
Gryskiewicz, 1989; George & Zhou, 2001; Madjar et al., 2002),
our study was the first to address how these characteristics fit
together to shape creativity at work.
Our study has a few limitations. First, our sample included
manufacturing employees only and it is not clear that our results
generalize to other populations. Future research might attempt to
test the ideas developed in this study across different samples and
settings. Another limitation of our study is its correlational design,
which precludes a clear determination of the direction of causality.
Although results were consistent with many of our arguments, it is
possible that creative employees simply described their contextual,
social, and personal characteristics differently than employees who
were less creative. Finally, in contrast to previous research that
generally focused on experienced overall time pressure (see Am-
abile, 1996), we focused on the experience of a specific type of
pressure—creative time pressure. Although our measure elimi-
nated some of the vagueness associated with earlier measures, it is
not clear whether our results generalize to overall time pressure or
to other types of pressure (i.e., pressure to complete standard job
responsibilities). Future research may address this issue by exam-
ining relations between creativity and measures of several types of
Future research is also needed that explores whether other
individual differences (e.g., extraversion) and social (e.g., organi-
zational support) characteristics might also moderate the curvilin-
ear relations involving experienced creative time pressure and
creativity. In addition, previous researchers have assumed that the
effects of time pressure on creativity are negative and linear (e.g.,
Andrews & Smith, 1996). Applying principles of activation theory,
we found that when employees who were open to experience
worked in a supportive environment, intermediate creative pres-
sure was necessary for creativity to peak—little pressure seemed to
be as harmful to creativity as too much pressure. Future research-
ers may want to examine whether an activation framework is also
helpful in understanding the effects of other contextual conditions
(e.g., the physical environment; Woodman & Schoenfeldt, 1990)
on individuals’ creativity.
Our results have some interesting practical implications. First,
previous research indicates that objective conditions in the work-
place (e.g., tight deadlines and high workloads) are substantially
related to the experience of overall time pressure (e.g., Durham,
Locke, Poon, & McLeod, 2000; Maule, Hockey, & Bdzola, 2000).
Thus, if management is interested in boosting creativity, supervi-
sors might first identify the objective conditions that produce the
experience of creative time pressure and alter those conditions so
employees experience intermediate pressure with respect to cre-
ative pursuits. Next, management should consider assigning em-
ployees who are open to experience to these conditions, and
encouraging supervisors and coworkers to support the creative
efforts of such empolyees. If it is not possible to assign employees
with the appropriate personality profiles to intermediate pressure
conditions and to offer support in these circumstances, somewhat
lower creativity might be expected.
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Received April 7, 2004
Revision received October 19, 2004
Accepted April 14, 2005 ?
BAER AND OLDHAM