Bright Sparks and Enquiring Minds: Differential Effects of Goal Orientation on the Creativity Trajectory

Ella Miron-Spektor, Dana R. Vashdi, Hadas Gopher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Why are some employees better than others at improving and maintaining their creativity over time? Despite decades of empirical study and theory on employee creativity, the temporal and developmental aspects of creativity are far from being fully understood. Emphasizing the dynamic nature of creativity, we propose that creativity trajectories are nonmonotonic, and that goal orientations explain individual variations in the ability to improve and sustain the productivity (number) and quality (novelty and usefulness) of ideas over time. Our findings from a longitudinal study at a manufacturing company suggest that employees with a learning orientation strive to develop their skills and thus improve the quality of their ideas at a faster rate and maintain it over time. Those with a performance orientation seek to demonstrate their skills, relying on existing frameworks that enable a larger number of ideas initially, yet ultimately undermine their creativity in the long term. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications for fueling creativity over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310-318
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 19 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We wish to thank Liat Levontin, Stefan Thau, and Fr?deric Godart for their insightful comments on earlier versions, Paul D. Feigin for his analytical guidance, and Ortal Ashkanazi for her help with data collection. We also thank Joseph Golan and the company described here for their remarkable cooperation. This research has received funding from the Israel Science Foundation under grant agreement number (#499/17 40,245). An early version of this work appeared in Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Psychological Association


  • Creativity trajectory
  • Goal orientation
  • Innovation
  • Learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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