Does participation generate creativity? A dual-mechanism of creative self-efficacy and supervisor-subordinate guanxi

Wenjing Cai, Li Lin-Schilstra, Chun Yang, Xueling Fan*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Although past research has acknowledged that participative leadership enhances creativity, how and when this link develops remain an underexplored topic. Based on social cognitive theory and social exchange theory, our study explores two mechanisms, i.e., creative self-efficacy as a motivational mechanism and supervisor-subordinate guanxi as an exchange-based mechanism, which simultaneously mediates the relationship between participative leadership and employee creativity. Using multisource and time-lagged data from 409 employees and 97 supervisors in China, we find that participative leadership affects creativity by simultaneously influencing creative self-efficacy and supervisor-subordinate guanxi. We also propose a moderated mediation model of employee identification with leader on both mechanisms; however, the moderation effect is found only for the exchange-based mechanism (i.e., supervisor-subordinate guanxi as the mediator). Our study sheds light on how (through both motivational and exchange-based mechanisms) and when (conditioned on employee identification with leader) participative leadership is positively related to creativity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-554
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date31 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China [72002098, 72002211]; the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities [WK2160000013]. We would like to thank Prof. Xu Huang for comments on the previous draft.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis.


  • creative self-efficacy
  • creativity
  • identification with leader
  • Participative leadership
  • supervisor-subordinate guanxi


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