A motivational–cognitive model of creativity and the role of autonomy

Hua LI*, Fuli LI, Tingting CHEN

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Recent research has questioned the assumed positive relationship between intrinsic motivation and creativity. Going beyond previous studies that explored the question of “when” intrinsic motivation affects creativity, this research addresses the question of “how.” Drawing on motivated information processing theory, we propose a motivational-cognitive model of creativity, such that intrinsic motivation exerts a positive indirect effect on creativity through cognitive flexibility. Results from two field studies provide convincing empirical evidence for our central hypothesis. To further explore how the motivational–cognitive processes to creativity are stimulated, we identify job autonomy as a contextual antecedent and find that job autonomy is positively and serially related to creativity through intrinsic motivation and cognitive flexibility. Moreover, such a serial mediating effect is stronger when supervisory autonomy support is high. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-188
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Business Research
Early online date25 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • Cognitive flexibility
  • Creativity
  • Intrinsic motivation
  • Job autonomy
  • Supervisory autonomy support


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