What kind of leader-employee relationships matter most in terms of creativity? This is the question Stine Therese S. Berg (OSM Aviation Management), Arnhild Grimstad (Google Ireland), Miha Škerlavaj (BI Norwegian Business School), and Matej Černe (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia) asked ourselves in the most recent publication from European Management Journal with the title Social and economic leader-member exchange and employee creative behavior: The role of employee willingness to take risks and emotional carrying capacity .
Here is the abstract:
In the current study we explore the relational aspect of leadership for stimulating employee creative behavior. Drawing on leader-member exchange (LMX) theory, we propose that the association between two distinct types of leader-member exchange relationships (social [SLMX] and economic [ELMX]) and creative behavior is mediated by employee willingness to take risks and moderated by emotional carrying capacity. Based on two-wave data from a sample of 147 employees, we surprisingly find only marginal support for the association between SLMX and creative behavior, and, as expected, we find no support for the association between ELMX and creative behavior. We do find evidence of the full mediation of willingness to take risks in these two associations. Furthermore, we also find a positively significant interaction of SLMX with emotional carrying capacity (ECC), but no support for the interaction of ELMX with ECC in predicting employee creative behavior. We contribute to a deeper view of understanding the leadership of employee creativity as a relational process, contingent upon both employee characteristics as well as the nature of leader-member exchange.