Regulatory fit: How individuals progress through the stages of the creative process

Basadur, T.M., Beuk, F. and Monllor, J. (2010). Regulatory fit: How individuals progress through the stages of the creative process. Published in the proceedings of the Academy of Management (AOM) annual conference, August 11, 2010, Montreal.


The motivation and drive underlying creative behaviors has been identified as an important research topic in an attempt to understand what leads individuals along what are often very different paths towards action. This paper approaches creativity and creative problem solving from a self-regulatory theory perspective. Self-regulation is a motivated cognitive action process that determines how and when individuals determine what they want or need, how they choose to do it, and then actually do it. As the creative process is also an action process, the questions of what motivates individuals to (dis)engage in the various activities in the different stages of the creative process may be answered by examining the mental activities in creative problem solving in terms of how individuals regulate and balance the dual self-regulatory dimensions of assessment, the desire to ensure appropriate actions are taken, and locomotion, the desire to move, and act. We apply regulatory fit theory to explain how the degree of fit between one’s regulatory mode orientation and the task requirements of each stage determines how one progresses through the multi-stage creative process. We propose that, from a multi-stage process perspective and based on self-determination theory the relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and creativity is not “either-or”, but rather a blend of both if individuals are to optimally perform all of the process stages.

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