Business, College of


Date of this Version

Fall 12-2-2010


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Interdepartmental Area of Business (Management), Under the Supervision of Professor Mary Uhl-Bien. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2010
Copyright 2010 David Sweetman


Leadership, creativity, and innovation are becoming increasingly important to the sustainability of organizations. Facing ever more complex environments, traditional views embodied in the individual are being augmented by theorizing which views leadership and creativity as a property of the collective. With theoretical grounding in complexity leadership theory, this dissertation leverages the emerging constructs of shared leadership and collective creativity from a network perspective to provide empirical understanding of the adaptive function of complexity leadership. Social network hypotheses were advanced positing that shared leadership and collective creativity comprise the adaptive function, and that the adaptive function is related to innovation. Results of research conducted in a small regional non-profit organization found collective creativity and shared leadership relate positively with innovation. Occurrence of the adaptive function was found to relate to 93.5% of all innovation. Further, in examining the components of collective creativity individually, while advice exchange occurred most frequently, reflective reframing was found to relate most directly to innovative outcomes. Reinforcing did not relate to innovation on its own, but appeared to act in combination with advice and reframing to predict innovation. In addition, heterogeneity between individual experiences and abilities moderated the relationship between the adaptive function and innovation, with more heterogeneity and the adaptive function positively associated with innovation. The moderating role of collective psychological capital was also explored, but no significant relationship was found. Findings demonstrated the decentralized nature of creativity, leadership, and innovation within an organization’s social network. Innovative outcomes were more decentralized than either creativity or leadership.