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Creative leadership: a multi-context conceptualization

Mainemelis, B.; Kark, R.; Epitropaki, O.

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B. Mainemelis

R. Kark


Various streams of organizational research have examined the relationship between creativity and leadership, albeit using slightly different names such as “creative leadership”, “leading for creativity and innovation”, and “managing creatives”. In this article, we review this dispersed body of knowledge and synthesize it under a global construct of creative leadership, which refers to leading others toward the attainment of a creative outcome. Under this unifying construct, we classify three more narrow conceptualizations that we observe in the literature: facilitating employee creativity; directing the materialization of a leader's creative vision; and integrating heterogeneous creative contributions. After examining the contextual characteristics associated with the three conceptualizations, we suggest that they represent three distinct collaborative contexts of creative leadership. We discuss the theoretical implications of a multi-context framework of creative leadership, especially in terms of resolving three persisting problems in the extant literature: lack of definitional clarity, shortage of nuanced theories, and low contextual sensitivity.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Feb 27, 2015
Publication Date Jan 1, 2015
Deposit Date Apr 6, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jul 1, 2016
Journal Academy of Management Annals
Print ISSN 1941-6520
Electronic ISSN 1941-6067
Publisher Academy of Management
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 1
Pages 393-482
Public URL


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