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Durham University

Research & business

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Publication details for Professor Olga Epitropaki

Mainemelis, B., Kark, R. & Epitropaki, O. (2015). Creative leadership: a multi-context conceptualization. The Academy of Management Annals 9(1): 393-482.

Author(s) from Durham


Various streams of organizational research have examined the relationship between creativity and leadership, albeit using slightly different names such as “creative leadership”, “leading for creativity and innovation”, and “managing creatives”. In this article, we review this dispersed body of knowledge and synthesize it under a global construct of creative leadership, which refers to leading others toward the attainment of a creative outcome. Under this unifying construct, we classify three more narrow conceptualizations that we observe in the literature: facilitating employee creativity; directing the materialization of a leader's creative vision; and integrating heterogeneous creative contributions. After examining the contextual characteristics associated with the three conceptualizations, we suggest that they represent three distinct collaborative contexts of creative leadership. We discuss the theoretical implications of a multi-context framework of creative leadership, especially in terms of resolving three persisting problems in the extant literature: lack of definitional clarity, shortage of nuanced theories, and low contextual sensitivity.