Creative working time and impulsiveness

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Companies have long used various approaches for organizing their employees’ time for creative and routine tasks in order to improve innovative performance. Alexander Brem and Verena Utikal (Junior Professor for Behavioral Economics) examined how work schedule autonomy affects individuals’ creative and routine performance.

Therefore, they analyzed 233 test persons working on various tasks: Solving simple arithmetic tasks was the routine task; to form as many words as possible from a given set of letters simulated the creative task. One group could switch between these two tasks as often and at any time as desired. The second group had to complete one task before being allowed to turn to the second.

Results of laboratory experiments reveal that while average routine performance is not affected by schedule autonomy, the effect of schedule autonomy on creative performance depends on the subject’s impulsiveness. There is evidence of an inverse relationship between schedule autonomy and creative performance among subjects of low impulsiveness. Hence, the optimal management policy depends on the manager’s focus on creative or routine performance and the types of employees the manager supervises.

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