Based on the research article

Mnisri, K., & Mavoori, H. (2019). Créativité et pratiques managériales au sein des agences conseil en communication. Recherches en Sciences de Gestion, (2), 29-59.

How effective are management and leadership practices in stimulating creativity in communication agencies? This question is central to the study carried out by Mnisri and Mavoori (2019).

Several studies have looked at the factors that influence individual creativity and group creativity, but few have empirically identified which managerial practices have a positive or negative impact on implementing tools and measures to manage creativity in an organizational context.

Creativity in communication agencies: analysis framework

The literature features numerous works that have attempted to define creativity in terms of managerial practice. However, few empirical studies have adopted a systemic approach to show how to capitalize on organizational creative potential and improve creative performance. In this research work, Mnisri and Mavoori study creativity in communication agencies by considering all of the explanatory factors at the individual, collective and organizational levels. The aim is to study creative practices within two communication agencies using the components of the socioeconomic model developed by the Institut de Socio-Economie des Entreprises et des Organisations (ISEOR)[1]. This model can be employed to study creativity in six areas that reflect the type of organizational functioning: work conditions, work organization, time management, communication-coordination-collaboration, integrated training, and strategic implementation.

Managerial practices likely to influence creativity in communication agencies

Although several factors can influence creativity in communication agencies, Mnisri and Mavoori show that some of them play a leading role. While their results are generally in line with those published in the literature, what is interesting here is that their results stem from the study of a sector in which creativity is crucial and that has been the subject of few studies to date. According to Mnisri et al., some results, concerning for example the importance of material resources, are comparable with those of Amabile and Gryskiewicz (1989)[2]. Others are similar to those of Amabile (1988) (the importance of expertise) and Cromwell and Amabile (2017) (constraints as sources of creative stimulation)[3]. Some practices that are considered to inhibit creativity are therefore in reality a means of creative stimulus. Many creative people maintain that time pressure, the pressure to achieve, and compartmentalization have a positive impact on their creative performance. For Mnisri and Mavoori, this conclusion is surprising, in particular when considering the autonomy of creative people, the layout of creative workplaces, and the establishment of a positive work atmosphere. It also emerges that a lack of plans for training and skills-building tends to hold back creativity. Creative people do not need standard training schemes, what they need is a policy that fosters creative inspiration (trips to museums, exhibitions and festivals).

“… a lack of plans for training and skills-building tends to hold back creativity…”

The importance of creative leadership

According to Mnisri and Mavoori, the work environment can make all the difference when it comes to managing creativity. Their results point to a positive correlation between management style and creative performance. The leadership role played by the director/manager/boss emerges frequently in the analysis, and indicates that a style centered on interpersonal relationships is more likely to encourage creativity. Creative people need a facilitator who not only establishes an organizational atmosphere that fosters creativity, but who breaks down barriers between the different departments. The facilitator brings into play a style aimed at boosting employees’ self-confidence and providing them with the resources they need. Creativity also requires a management style that effectively sets targets, supports team work, appreciates creative efforts, and places trust in creative people. Initiative, tolerance and a risk-taking culture are key characteristics of creativity management. The manager’s role involves guiding and supporting creative people, but it also involves delegating to boost autonomy. 

Mnisri and Mavoori therefore propose an approach that considers creative leadership as the optimum combination of the six themes in the socioeconomic model. It should act on the individual and organizational components of creativity and maximize creative performance. This leadership style is capable of improving work conditions by creating an environment where employees do not hesitate to take risks and suggest ideas. Leadership of this kind is capable of supporting all creative initiatives, making available the resources required for creativity, and interconnecting creativity and strategic directions to make creativity a source of competitive advantage.

Our approach fills the gap in empirical studies regarding the role of leadership style in a creativity and innovation approach. Despite consensus on the importance of leadership to stimulate creativity in individuals, research on the type of leadership behavior required to foster creativity and innovation remains relatively less developed.

“….Creative people need a facilitator who not only establishes an organizational atmosphere that fosters creativity, but who breaks down barriers between the different departments…”

Creative leadership to boost the development of organizational creativity

Regarding its managerial contribution, this study highlights the scope of the responsibilities of managers and leaders to facilitate the development of organizational creativity. Concerning competition, a work setup backed by creative leadership makes it possible to achieve creative objectives likely to improve the company’s competitiveness and overcome competitors. The implementation of creative leadership can be part of a proactive approach aimed at prevention, or a reactive approach to resolve problems and provide fast, original responses in unexpected situations.

In conclusion, Mnisri and Mavoori mention that their study does not answer all questions about practicing creativity management in organizations. However, creativity is vital for communication agencies, which is not necessarily the case for companies in other sectors.

“…creative leadership…to improve the company’s competitiveness and overcome competitors…”

[1]SAVALL H., ZARDET, V., Maîtriser les coûts cachés: le contrat d’activité périodiquement négociable, Economica, 1987.

[2] AMABILE T.M., GRYSKIEWICZ S., “The creative environment scale: the work environment inventory”, Creativity Research Journal, Tome 2, 1989, p 231-254

[3] CROMWELL J., AMABILE T.M., “Toward Resolving the Paradox of Creativity and Constraints in Organizations: A Taxonomic Approach”, Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings, n°1, 2017, p 15067


Kamel Mnisri is an associate professor and director of the MSc program in International Management – Miex at ICN Business School. His research centers on creativity, leadership and business ethics. He has published articles in the journals Creativity and Innovation Management, Journal of Business Ethics, International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development, Management & Avenir, Recherches en Sciences de Gestion and Questions de Management.

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