Feedback is a ubiquitous management tool. Employing this tool to meet the new challenge of enhancing team creativity, raises the important question of whether positive or negative feedback is more effective. Unfortunately prior research on feedback valence and creativity is limited to the individual level, neglecting team creativity’s interdependent and knowledge-intensive nature. We address this issue and advance the team information processing perspective on team creativity by integrating two heretofore separate research streams to develop a team-specific model about how negative and positive feedback enhance creativity via two alternative information processing routes, contingent on teams’ informational diversity. Negative feedback fuels teams’ systematic effort and attention to external, novel information. In informationally diverse teams, in which members hold different information and perspectives, these efforts promote team creativity through information elaboration. Conversely, positive feedback propels members to flexibly use their information and contribute the resultant divergent insights to the team. In informationally homogeneous teams, where these insights relate to others’ information and perspectives, these divergent insights trigger teams’ generative processing and in turn creativity. Results from a team experiment support the predicted feedback valence by informational diversity interaction on team creativity through elaboration and generative processing.

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Journal Academy of Management Journal
Hoever, I.J, Zhou, J, & van Knippenberg, D.L. (2017). Different strokes for different teams: The contingent effects of positive and negative feedback on the creativity of informationally homogeneous and diverse teams. Academy of Management Journal. doi: