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How Overlapping Connections Between Groups Interact with Value Differences in Explaining Creativity?

Part of the Translational Systems Sciences book series (TSS,volume 22)

Abstract

We build on recent developments in network theory and the sociology of valuation, and we propose that the overlapping connections that groups have with each other (i.e., structural folds) and differences in within-group values are substitutes for explaining creativity (coming up with new ideas and practices). Thus, only groups that lack overlapping connections with other groups stand to benefit from within-group value differences. In order to test this proposition, we developed a scale to measure differences in values in organizational cliques. We constructed 280 cliques of 104 employees at a professional service firm on the basis of their advice relations and tested whether group overlaps and diverging values were positively associated with a group’s creativity and their joint effect. As expected, group overlaps only have a positive effect on creativity when values do not diverge. Furthermore, divergence of values contributes to creativity only when overlapping connections between groups are lacking. These findings are explained by presenting a compensatory theory of the function of overlapping group memberships and differences in values. The findings contribute both to the research on group processes and creativity in network theory as well as the effects of values in social sciences.

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Fig. 7.1
Fig. 7.2
Fig. 7.3

Notes

  1. 1.

    We also used the CFinder software to analyze our data with the clique percolation method. With k value 3, CFinder identified only two subgroups; with k values of both 4 and 5, there were 10 subgroups. With so few subgroups, no statistically significant differences can be found.

  2. 2.

    When the N of the network is only 147, 280 subgroups may sound like a high figure. However, this figure is not that high considering that nodes are members of 1.9 cliques on average.

  3. 3.

    Stark (2009) has explored the connection between divergence of values and structural folding in the methodological context of ethnographic research. A methodological focus on ethnographic research is logical if one wants to underscore (as Stark does) that valuation always takes place in particular situations. However, ethnographic research is better suited to the formulation of new theories rather than to testing them.

  4. 4.

    Goldberg et al. (2016) studied career advancement with a dual focus on the effects of similarity of vocabulary of senders and receivers of e-mails (cultural fit) and the structural positions of nodes in e-mail networks.

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Correspondence to Antti Gronow .

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Appendices

Appendix 1

Operationalization of the valuation questions (the titles of the “worlds” were not shown in the questionnaire)

Please indicate how important you consider the following factors to be (1 = “not at all important”; 2 = “not very important”; 3 = “somewhat important”; 4 = “fairly important”; 5 = “very important”).

  1. 1.

    Market World

    • My salary or other monetary compensation is good.

    • My company pays a better salary than its competitors.

    • My company succeeds better than its competitors.

  2. 2.

    Industrial World

    • My company operates efficiently.

    • The targets of the company are clear.

    • The division of responsibilities among employees is functional.

  3. 3.

    Civic World

    • Employees can participate in the company’s decision-making.

    • All employees are being treated equally.

    • Employee rights are explicit in the company.

  4. 4.

    World of Fame

    • My job is valued in society.

    • My company is well known.

    • I am able to network widely in my job.

  5. 5.

    World of Inspiration

    • I am able to fulfill myself at work.

    • Company culture promotes my creativity.

    • I am passionate about my work.

  6. 6.

    Domestic World

    • I trust my closest colleagues.

    • In my company, the superiors are held in esteem and respected.

    • In my work, I accumulate competence that is being transferred to future employees.

  7. 7.

    World of Ecology

    • I am able to promote environmental welfare in my work.

    • The company functions in accordance with sustainable development.

    • My work promotes the use of renewable energy.

Appendix 2

Reliability statistics for all valuations

  Cronbach’s Alpha Number of items
Market 0.634 3
Industrial 0.488 3
Civic 0.241 3
Fame 0.688 3
Inspiration 0.682 3
Domestic 0.568 3
Ecology 0.776 3
  1. The valuations used for constructing the composite variable are indicated with bold characters

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Gronow, A., Smedlund, A., Karimo, A. (2020). How Overlapping Connections Between Groups Interact with Value Differences in Explaining Creativity?. In: Lehtimäki, H., Uusikylä, P., Smedlund, A. (eds) Society as an Interaction Space. Translational Systems Sciences, vol 22. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-0069-5_7

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