Not All Brokers Are Alike: Creative Implications of Brokering Networks in Different Work Functions

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    Brokers are expected to be more creative than employees embedded in closed social structures because they occupy a position in the social space that provides them with access to non-redundant knowledge. However, the extant research provides partly inconsistent findings on the creative implications of brokerage, which raises important questions about when and how brokering between otherwise disconnected colleagues leads to individual creativity. We advance the relational perspective on individual creativity by adopting a contingency view, and showing that a curvilinear (inverted U-shape) specification of the relationship between brokerage and creativity applies particularly when brokers work in research and development, as they are more likely to intensively exploit their structural opportunities. In addition, we show that brokers who work in research and development are more sensitive to work environments that protect their cognitive resources, such that they exhibit greater creativity when the work environment is free from environmental stressors, such as noise and disturbances. Thus, environmental stressors are particularly harmful for those employees who are most likely to exploit the opportunity to broker across otherwise disconnected colleagues.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalHuman Relations
    Issue number6
    Pages (from-to)668-693
    Number of pages26
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


    • Creativity
    • Environmental stressor
    • Research and development
    • Social network

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