Contribution of Occupational Psychology Theories in Boosting Workplace Innovation
Psychology is one of the most challenging and miscellaneous as well as one of the most perspective and dramatically developing branches of the contemporary sciences. Furthermore, this science overlaps with other fields of knowledge and significantly contributes to their development. Therefore, the practical implementation of psychological concepts and theories in such spheres of business performance as management, business development, PR and HR technologies, and also advertising agencies, is quite relevant, effective and perspective.
The paper discusses famous psychological theories that are topical and relevant for the process of workplace innovation and increase of overall corporate efficiency. Furthermore, the basic differences between the concepts of creativity and innovation in terms of competitive advantage and global market economy will be discussed.
Analysis of the Psychological Theories and their Contribution to the Workplace Innovation
It is essential to present profound insight into the sphere of occupational psychology and outline the major psychological theories that may be related to the notions of creativity, innovation, and increase of the level of corporate efficiency.
Thus, the field of psychological science presents two essential perspectives in terms of personality study and analysis. They are trait and type perspectives. The trait perspective may be analyzed according to such psychological theories as “Allport’s trait categories, Cattell’s 16 PF test, and the state of trait theory” (McKenna 2012). The type perspective presents a more global vision and more generalized classification. Hence, a personality type may be regarded as a certain pattern of personality features that are shared by a particular number of individuals. It is essential to mention such outstanding typologies as the “Big Five” factor theory, Eysenck’s, and Jung’s typologies.
Furthermore, it is significant to define the essence of the concepts of creativity and innovation. The concept of creativity may be regarded as “the creation of a valuable, useful new product, service, idea, procedure, or process by individuals working together in a complex social system. It is, therefore, the commonly accepted definition of creative behavior, or the products of such behavior” (Woodman, Sawyer & Griffin 1993). This definition underlines the essential role of creativity in the course of corporate cooperation providing proper motivation and relevantly set targets. Though, it is necessary to emphasize that there are different definitions of the notion of creativity as far as the concept is not completely investigated. Therefore, some approaches regard the notion of creativity within a prism of intrinsic value whereas others tend to underline the social value of the outcomes of a creative process. One more significant definition of the concept of creativity is presented by Barron & Harrington (1981) as a “socially recognized achievement in which there are novel products to which one can point as evidence, such as inventions, theories, buildings, published writings, paintings and sculptures, and films; laws; institutions; medical and surgical treatments.” This definition is more specific and detailed. Moreover, it illustrates the universal character of the concept of creativity. Hence, it is clear that creativity may contribute efficiently to boosting workplace innovation in any industrial field.
The next stage of the analysis is the discussion of the concept of innovation. Thus, it differs from the concept of creativity in the scope of idea presentation. The concept of creativity presupposes the process of creative thinking and development of the idea whereas the concept of innovation presupposes the process of practical implementation of the idea within a particular working environment. Therefore, the concept of creativity may be comprehended as the prior stage towards the concept of innovation. These concepts may also refer to the theoretical and practical scope respectively. For example, Scott & Bruce (2011) support such an approach towards the concepts’ definition by underlining the following: “Agreement about the terms’ definitions has emerged recently; creativity has to do with the production of novel and useful ideas, and innovation has to do with the production or adoption of useful ideas and idea implementation” (Mumford & Gustafson 1988).
There are different predetermining and influential factors that should be taken into consideration when interpreting the essence of creativity and innovation. They include such significant factors as external constraints, the role of success (its pressure and race), internal control, etc. (Amabile 1996).
The next step of analysis comprises the actual contribution of the aforementioned psychological theories to the level of overall corporate performance and its efficiency.
It is essential to discuss the “Big Five” factor theory. According to McCrae & Costa (n.d.), “In a narrow sense, the five-factor model (FFM) of personality is an empirical generalization about the covariation of personality traits. In a broader sense, the FFM refers to the entire body of research that it has inspired, amounting to a reinvigoration of trait psychology itself.”
The “Big Five” factor theory comprises such primary dimensions of the concept of personality as conscientiousness, extraversion, emotional stability, openness, and agreeableness. The dimension of openness may be also referred to as the dimension of intellect whereas the dimension of agreeableness is also known as the dimension of likeability. It is necessary to underline the significance of the dimension of extraversion. As far as the dimension of extraversion comprises of such traits of personality as active position, talkativeness, being sociable, as well as being assertive, the dimension of extraversion is a crucial one for the efficiency of the corporate performance of a particular employee, as well as for the impact the employee has on the colleagues and overall working process. The dimension of extraversion is the crucial building element of a friendly, cohesive, and efficient team. Buchanan (1998) emphasizes the essential role of the team in the course of a successful, profitable, and perspective corporate activity. Described by some as a “corporate renaissance” or “the second industrial revolution”, teams are predicted to become a basic organizational building block of successful companies. Team-based management practices have become a way to restore America’s productivity, and at the same time, create a work environment that is aligned with the nature of workers.
Hence, a cohesive and goal orientated team is a reliable, responsible, and perspective basis for a corporation. Furthermore, the innovation requires a collective approach whereas the dimension of creativity may require, on the contrary, an individual approach. The basic reason is that innovation is a practical process of implementation of the developed idea. Hence, there are numerous aspects and nuances to be taken into consideration, properly analyzed, and subsequently effectively implemented. In order to provide a consistent, relevant, and efficient process of implementation it is necessary to involve the team.
One more significant dimension in the context of workplace innovation is intellect or openness. This dimension is directly connected with the notion of creativity in the context of workplace innovation. The dimension of intellect includes such significant traits as an original and intelligent way of thinking, vivid imagination, and curiosity. Furthermore, individuals with such a pattern of personality tend to be artistically sensitive and highly cultured. All the aforementioned qualities contribute to the implementation of workplace innovation as far as imagination, as well as curiosity and intelligence, provide the essential basis for creativity, whereas being cultured and broad-minded contributes to the proper and perspective implementation of the developed ideas.
According to De Caroli & Sagone (n.d.), “Williams (1969) produced a factorial model which integrated the affective aspects of human creativity, that is, personality factors such as willingness to take risks, imagination, curiosity, and complexity, with cognitive ones.” This study vividly demonstrates the significance of the dimension of intellect to workplace innovation.
One of the most essential and topical theories in the context of the trait perspective of the personality study may be considered Allport’s trait categories.
It is essential to dwelling on the overall conception of the trait presented by Allport. The famous psychologist compares the concept of trait with such notions as attitude, as well as habit. It is necessary to underline that Allport confirms the stance that the trait may be developed and improved in the same way the habit may evolve. Hence, with the course of time, a habit may subsequently become a trait (Barkhuus 1999). This is crucial as far as workplace innovation may be motivated and adjusted by means of training and relevant corporate policy and culture.
Allport provides the following classification of traits: cardinal, central, and secondary traits (McKenna 2012). Furthermore, the psychologist proves that the traits should not be regarded as independent and separate entities that constitute the personality. Thus, the set of traits forms the basis for the display of particular behavioral patterns. They tend to influence each other and result in a certain performance of the person. The theory introduced by Allport presents the concept of the self, or in other words – proprium. The notion of proprium deals with “a concept that embraces distinctive and important personal characteristics, such as self-esteem, self-image, rational thinker, or, alternatively, irrational, impetuous, and so on” (McKenna 2012).
The notions of self-esteem and self-image, as well as a rational thinker, are essential and determining in the course of implementation of the innovation in the workplace. It is necessary to underline that the truly creative individual is supposed to possess a wide variety of intellectual as well as sheer personality characteristic features. Therefore, all the aforementioned personality theories contribute significantly to the profound investigation and analysis of this subject. Furthermore, they provide an essential perspective for further development and improvement of the occupational psychology field. As far as a creative employee that may significantly contribute to the boosting of the workplace innovation is characterized in three dimensions – intellectual capacities, the actual level of knowledge, and personality peculiarities and traits (McKenna 2012) – they are expected to continue the process of study of the personality in the course of direct interrelation with the concepts of innovation and corporate creativity.
Thus, the concepts of creativity and innovation should be viewed from two basic perspectives – trait and type ones. Psychological theories in the scope of these perspectives significantly contribute to the development and improvement of the process of innovation in the workplace. The Big Five-factor theory outlines the dimensions of the typology of the creative personality whereas Allport’s trait categories provide an essential basis for proper comprehension of the traits’ essence, interrelation, and interdependence, which subsequently result in a complete picture of the behavioral pattern.
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