research investigates how life inside organizations can influence people and their performance

Teresa Amabile is the Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School. She is also a Director of Research at the School. Originally educated and employed as a chemist, Dr. Amabile received her Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University in 1977. Her research investigates how life inside organizations can influence people and their performance. Originally focusing on individual creativity, Dr. Amabile’s research expanded to encompass individual productivity, team creativity, and organizational innovation. This 35-year program of research on how the work environment can influence creativity and motivation yielded a theory of creativity and innovation; methods for assessing creativity, motivation, and the work environment; and a set of prescriptions for maintaining and stimulating innovation. Dr. Amabile’s current research program focuses on the psychology of everyday work life: how events in the work environment influence subjective experience (“inner work life”) and performance (creativity, productivity, and commitment to the work).

Below is a list of some of Dr. Amabile’s work. In order to view the entire list or read the papers you can download some of the corresponding PDFs or purchase them online here

Entrepreneurial Creativity Through Motivational Synergy

Abstract: This paper defines and describes entrepreneurial creativity, which is the generation and implementation of novel, appropriate ideas to establish a new venture. Entrepreneurial creativity can be exhibited in established organizations as well as in start-up firms. The central thesis of this paper is that entrepreneurial creativity requires a combination of intrinsic motivation and certain kinds of extrinsic motivation — a motivational synergy that results when strong levels of personal interest and involvement are combined with the promise of rewards that confirm competence, support skill development, and enable future achievement.

From Guilford to Creative Synergy: Opening the Black Box of Team-Level Creativity

Abstract: Previous research, from Guilford’s founding tradition to more modern research on individual creativity and general group processes, falls short of adequately describing team-level creativity. Although researchers have addressed brainstorming in groups with mixed findings, little is known about how creative minds interact in group processes. In this article, we examine the specific group processes and dynamics that may affect team-level creative production and present a description of the ways in which diversity and different types of conflict in groups may affect the creative process. Finally, we offer suggestions for future research on creativity as a dynamic, team-level process.

How leaders kill meaning at work

Senior executives routinely undermine creativity, productivity, and commitment by damaging the inner work lives of their employees in four avoidable ways.
As a senior executive, you may think you know what Job Number 1 is: developing a killer strategy. In fact, this is only Job 1a. You have a second, equally important task. Call it Job 1b: enabling the ongoing engagement and everyday progress of the people in the trenches of your organization who strive to execute that strategy. A multiyear research project whose results we described in our recent book, The Progress Principle,1 found that of all the events that can deeply engage people in their jobs, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work.