Working across cultures is a thing of past, present, and hopefully also future. The question is now what contributes to good knowledge and innovation processes in such context. Sabina Bogilovic, Matej Cerne and Miha Skerlavaj in their article Hiding behind the mask? published in latest European journal of Work and Organizational Psychology argue that it is the cultural intelligence that enables both individuals and their teams to overcome social categorization, decrease knowledge hiding and improve creative outcomes.
Culturally diverse colleagues can be valuable sources for stimulating creativity at work, yet only if they decide to share their knowledge. Drawing on the social exchange theory, we propose that cross-cultural interactions among individuals from different national backgrounds can act as a salient contingency in the relationship between knowledge hiding and creativity (individual and team). We further suggest, based on the social categorization theory (e.g., the categorization process of “us” against “them” based on national differences), that cultural intelligence enhances the likelihood of high-quality social exchanges between culturally diverse individuals and, therefore, remedies the otherwise negative relationship between individual knowledge hiding and individual creativity. Two studies using field and experimental data offer consistent support for this argument. First, a field study of 621 employees nested among 70 teams revealed that individual knowledge hiding is negatively related to individual creativity and that cultural intelligence moderates the relationship between knowledge hiding and creativity at an individual level. A quasi-experimental study of 104 international students nested in 24 teams replicated and extended these findings by implying that individual knowledge hiding is also negatively related to team creativity. We discuss the implications for practice and future research.
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