Why seeking help from teammates is a blessing and a curse:  A theory of help seeking and individual creativity in team contexts

Jennifer Mueller, Management, University of San Diego, and Dishan Kamdar, Organizational Behavior, Indian School of Business

Abstract: Research has not explored the extent to which seeking help from teammates positively relates to a person’s own creativity. This question is important to explore as help seeking is commonly enacted in organizations and may come with reciprocation costs that may also diminish creativity. Results based on 291 employees in a single division of a large multinational organization revealed that seeking help predicted creativity and mediated the relationship between intrinsic motivation and creativity. However, help seekers also incurred reciprocation costs in that they tended to give more help to teammates, and giving help to teammates was negatively related to creativity. In general, giving higher levels of help attenuated the positive relationship between help seeking and creativity. We also tested an integrated model to show that help giving moderated the mediated relationship between intrinsic motivation and creativity via help seeking, such that higher levels of help giving attenuated this mediated effect. We discuss theoretical and practical implications recommending additional research regarding the interpersonal creative process in team contexts.

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