The Role of Leadership in Cultivating a Responsible Collective Creative Work Environment

The Role of Leadership in Cultivating a Responsible Collective Creative Work Environment

Alphonce Tavona Shiri (University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1823-5.ch005
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This chapter examines the concept of collective creativity in the work environment and in particular the manufacturing sector in Gweru, Zimbabwe. The chapter analyzes the role of a leader in fostering a work climate that cultivates collaborative efforts by followers in creating new ideas and for the sustainability of business operations. Literature relating to leadership role in enhancing sustainable and responsible collective creativity is reviewed. The chapter adopted a quantitative approach in which a survey questionnaire was pilot tested to assess the clarity of the questions on the questionnaire and test the internal consistency of the questions. A pilot test of the situational outlook questionnaire (SOQ) was conducted on 20 respondents in the manufacturing industry to assess the questions for clarity and internal consistency. The final survey questionnaire was distributed to 60 employees in the manufacturing sector in Gweru, Zimbabwe. The items on the questionnaire were rated on a 5 point Likert scale. Data was analysed using SPSS version 23. Data was analysed to determine the correlations between the independent variables and dependent variables. Transformational leadership constructs, namely idealised influence, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation and individualised consideration constituted leadership independent variables. Analysis of research data reveals that high performance is related to sustainable business practices such as the creation of environmentally friendly and affordable products. Unethical business practices are found to be negatively related to business performance and collective creativity. Analysis of the data revealed a positive correlation between individualised consideration construct of transformational leadership and ideal support (r=.527, p=.001) and a positive correlation between individualised consideration and openness (r=.343, p<.001), and a positive correlation between individualised consideration and involvement (r=.123, p<.001) This means that when a leader displays support through taking into consideration the individual needs of his or her followers, subordinates feel that the leader is encouraging them to participate in company activity and increase their perception of an involving climate. Acts of leadership support also stimulate subordinate views of an open forum where they can contribute to collective creativity within the organisation.
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In today’s globalized economic environments, customers have wide access to information on the same type and range of goods and services. This access to information and range has created increased demand and appetite for more product features and higher quality such that a lot of pressure has been put on manufacturers to become more innovative and creative (Jung, Chow & Wu, 2003). The Zimbabwe manufacturing sector has not been spared by this wave of constant expectations and demands by consumers. The manufacturing sector faces a myriad of challenges and is struggling to stay afloat. The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) (2012) carried out a survey on the state of the manufacturing sector and concluded that the sector was in crisis. The results of the CZI (2012) survey showed that capacity utilization had declined from 57.7% to 44.2% and the GDP contribution estimate for the manufacturing sector was expected to decline from 9.4% to 5.6% by the end of year 2012. At least 60% of the manufacturers in Zimbabwe face competition from both foreign and local companies, while 14% face competition from foreign companies only (CZI, 2012). While very competitive and full of potential, the Zimbabwe manufacturing sector has been seriously affected by a depressed economy and competition from foreign firms as consumers prefer superior foreign brands over local brands (Damiyano, Muchabaiwa, Mushanyuri & Chikomba, 2012). The fact that the Zimbabwean manufacturing sector has potential is an indicator that the sector can be revived to its full potential through leadership and innovation. Evidence of high standard production processes (see Table 1) shows that the manufacturing sector can be competitive if the top management and leadership steer an innovative and creative culture to sustain a competitive edge.

Table 1.
Evidence of innovation by manufacturing firms through recognized quality certification
Percentage of firms with an internationally recognized quality certificate18.014.816.4
Percentage of firms using technology licensed by foreign companies16.413.415.1

Source: Damiyano, Muchabaiwa, Mushanyuri & Chikomba (2012)

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