The moderating role of non-controlling supervision and organizational learning culture on employee creativity: The influences of domain expertise and creative personality

Shinhee Jeong, Gary N. McLean, Laird D. McLean, Sangok Yoo, Kenneth R Bartlett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Purpose: By adopting a multilevel approach, this paper aims to examine the relationships among employee creativity and creative personality, domain expertise (i.e. individual-level factors), non-controlling supervision style and organizational learning culture (i.e. team-level factors). It also investigates the cross-level interactions between individual differences and organizational context influencing employee creativity. Design/methodology/approach: Hierarchical linear modeling was performed to test the hypotheses using multisource data with 416 employees and their supervisors in 86 research and development teams. Findings: This paper found that domain expertise and non-controlling supervision style are positively associated with employee creativity. Also, a positive moderating role of non-controlling supervision style was found in explaining the relationship between domain expertise and employee creativity. However, no significant relationship was found between creative personality and employee creativity, and there was no moderating effect of organizational learning culture. The paper discusses the theoretical implications of these findings and provides practical suggestions based on the findings. Originality/value: This paper has begun to address the significant gap in the extant employee creativity literature and has departed from the common research practice of investigating creativity at a single level. It has expanded understanding of the antecedents of creativity with empirical evidence, as it revealed domain expertise and non-controlling supervision as influential factors. Further, domain expertise has generally positive effects on creative performance, whether non-controlling leadership is high or low. Additionally, this study brings an interesting insight in interpreting the contribution of organizational learning culture as measured by the Dimensions of Learning Organization Questionnaire to creativity and also affirms the importance of autonomy that increases intrinsic motivation and creativity. Another theoretical contribution of this study can be found from an intriguing contradiction in the literature that understands the role of expertise in creative performance. Moreover, the finding on non-controlling supervision supports the effectiveness of a freedom approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)647-666
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Journal of Training and Development
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Creative personality
  • Domain expertise
  • Employee creativity
  • Multilevel analysis
  • Non-controlling supervision style
  • Organizational learning culture


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