Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 81, Issue 1, pp 97–115 | Cite as

Fostering Creativity and Innovation without Encouraging Unethical Behavior

  • Melissa S. Baucus
  • William I. NortonJr.
  • David A. Baucus
  • Sherrie E. Human


Many prescriptions offered in the literature for enhancing creativity and innovation in organizations raise ethical concerns, yet creativity researchers rarely discuss ethics. We identify four categories of behavior proffered as a means for fostering creativity that raise serious ethical issues: (1) breaking rules and standard operating procedures; (2) challenging authority and avoiding tradition; (3) creating conflict, competition and stress; and (4) taking risks. We discuss each category, briefly identifying research supporting these prescriptions for fostering creativity and then we delve into ethical issues associated with engaging in the prescribed behavior. These four rubrics illustrate ethical issues that need to be incorporated into the creativity and innovation literature. Recommendations for how organizations can respond to the ethical issues are offered based on practices of exemplary organizations and theories of organizational ethics. A research agenda for empirically investigating the ethical impact these four categories of behavior have on organizations concludes the article.


ethics ethical organizations creativity innovation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melissa S. Baucus
    • 1
  • William I. NortonJr.
    • 1
  • David A. Baucus
    • 2
  • Sherrie E. Human
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of ManagementUniversity of LouisvilleLouisvilleU.S.A.
  2. 2.LouisvilleU.S.A.
  3. 3.Department of ManagementXavier UniversityCincinnatiU.S.A.

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