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Leadership Quarterly





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Employees in many jobs encounter novel, ill-defined problems, and finding creative solutions to these problems may be the critical factor that allows their organization to maintain a competitive advantage. Solving problems creatively requires extensive and effortful cognitive processing. This requirement is magnified further by the complex, ambiguous situations in which most organizational problems occur. Employees must define and construct a problem, search and retrieve problem-relevant information, and generate and evaluate a diverse set of alternative solutions. Creativity necessitates that all these activities are completed effectively. It is unlikely, therefore, that creative outcomes will be realized without a large degree of support from organizations and organizational leaders. In order to provide this support, leaders must understand the cognitive requirements of creative problem solving. To this end, this paper reviews the cognitive processes underlying creative problem solving and suggests avenues through which organizational leaders can facilitate these processes in an effort to enhance the creative problem solving of their employees.


NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Leadership Quarterly. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Leadership Quarterly, Vol. 15, Issue 1 (February 2004) DOI# 10.1016/j.leaqua.2003.12.005.