I recently blogged about the construct of cultural tightness, and about the paper that we wrote about cultural tightness and creativity on a global scale, which got accepted in ASQ.
The article, now called “The Impact of Culture on Creativity, How Cultural Tightness and Cultural Distance Affect Global Innovation Crowdsourcing Work,” is now online, published before print publication probably mid-2015. Here are 10 quotes from the article.
First, here is our abstract taken directly from the ASQ article page (drop me an email if you would like me to send you the article if you don’t have access to it with your university or library access). The abstract – like the article – was substantially shortened:
This paper advances a new theoretical model to understand the effect of culture on creativity in a global context. We theorize that creativity engagement and success depend on the cultural tightness—the extent to which a country is characterized by strong social norms and low tolerance for deviant behaviors—of both an innovator’s country and the audience’s country, as well as the cultural distance between these two countries. Using field data from a global online crowdsourcing platform that organizes creative contests for consumer-product brands, supplemented by interviews with marketing experts, we found that individuals from tight cultures are less likely than counterparts from loose cultures to engage in and succeed at foreign creative tasks; this effect is intensified as the cultural distance between the innovator’s and the audience’s country increases. Additionally, tight cultures are less receptive to foreign creative ideas. But we also found that in certain circumstances—when members of a tight culture do creative work in their own or culturally close countries—cultural tightness can actually promote creativity success. This finding implies that some degree of convergent thinking as engendered by tight cultures could be beneficial for creativity, challenging the dominant view in creativity research that divergent thinking is a prerequisite for creative performance.
10 quotes from our article:
1 – In the introduction, when we introduce the topic and why it’s interesting to look at creativity on a global scale:
With the globalization of business, creative tasks themselves have begun to transcend national boundaries.
2 – The theoretical gap that we identified in the literature is that very little has been written about cross-border creative activity:
We still lack a theoretical exposition and empirical demonstration of how a country’s culture influences its people’s motivation and ability to innovate both within and outside their own country.
3 – Generally, the idea that creativity is socially constructed has already been proposed in the literature:
The success of creativity depends in part on the extent to which an audience is receptive to the proposed new ideas [because] whether an idea is considered creative is socially constructed.
4 – Jumping to the results, here’s a quote about one of our key findings about cultural tightness and cross-cultural creativity:
We found that an individual from a tight culture is less likely than a counterpart from a loose culture to engage in and succeed at foreign creative tasks that are culturally distant.
5 – Why so? We posit that people from tight cultures may be less motivated to engage in culturally unfamiliar creative tasks:
From a motivational perspective, it could be that individuals from tight cultures find it challenging to work with unfamiliar foreign ideas.
6 – We also look at the culture of the creative task’s audience country, which is novel in the literature, and find that:
The tighter the culture of the audience country, the lower the likelihood of creativity success in that country for foreign entrants.
7 – While cultural tightness hinders inter-cultural creative activity & success, the effect on intra-cultural creative tasks is reversed, which is one of our counter-intuitive findings:
For local creative tasks, contrary to what current theorizing would predict, cultural tightness increases the likelihood of engagement and success.
8 – In sum, our paper (which advances a “Cultural Alignment Model of Global Creativity”) explains that there needs to be a cultural fit between cultures in cross-border creative tasks:
Creativity [depends] on whether there is some degree of cultural alignment between the innovator’s country and the audience country.
9 – When it comes to open innovation and crowdsourcing research, looking at the crowd as a culturally heterogeneous (and proving that it impacts participation and success) is novel too:
To our knowledge, our work is the first to investigate how the cultural heterogeneity of crowds (participants) and companies (clients) affects participation and performance in global creative problem solving
10 – As I concluded in my talk about culturally diverse crowds recently, this research might be a starting point for much more research about cultural tightness, cross-cultural creativity and culturally diverse crowds:
We believe that this research provides a good starting point for scholars to further study the impact of culture on creativity
A final, related note:
Have a look at another ASQ paper that got published online on the same day, called “Creativity from Constraint? How the Political Correctness Norm Influences Creativity in Mixed-sex Work Groups.” Using evidence from two group experiments, it tests theory on the effects of imposing a political correctness norm (clear expectations for how men and women should interact) on reducing interaction uncertainty and boosting creativity in groups. The paper show that the political correctness norm promotes (rather than suppresses) the free expression of ideas by reducing the uncertainty and signaling that the group is predictable enough to share more — and more-novel — ideas. It’s another cool paper that looks at the impact of norms on creativity, with a rather counter-intuitive finding, which is why I encourage you to read it.