Using a multi-year qualitative study, I explain how employees at a fast-growing retail organization used creative resourcing—that is, the manipulation and recombination of objects in novel and useful ways to solve problems. I induce two core organizational processes (autonomous resourcing and directed resourcing) that explain how organizations foster ongoing creative activities in response to different perceived resource endowments. In doing so, I add clarity to a mixed literature that argues on the one hand that limited resources foster creativity, and on the other, that abundant resources foster creativity. Instead, I reorient the questions that scholars ask by shifting the conversation away from variance-explanation models and towards understanding organizational processes, specifically around how employees use resources in dynamic ways and how managers enable them to do so. My study unpacks how the link between resources and creativity is rooted deeply in the actions of managers and employees embedded in organizations over time. In elaborating theory around these actions, I contribute to scholarly and practitioner understanding around how organizations foster creativity in a variety of resource environments.
Sonenshein, S. (2014). How organizations foster the creative use of resources. Academy of Management Journal, 57(3), 814-848.