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Searching outside the box in creative problem solving: The role of creative thinking ability and domain knowledge

Carl Maertz, PhD T. Montag-Smit
Journal of Business Research. December 1, 2017

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This study provides evidence for how factual (directly relevant for developing creative solutions) vs. range (indirectly relevant) information can be used to provoke idea generation and effective creative outcomes. Data were obtained from 127 staff, faculty, and students at a private Midwest university. The results show that the effect of type of information was moderated by the participant’s creative thinking skill and domain knowledge. For individuals high in creative thinking skill, range information improved idea generation originality, which in turn enhanced creative outcome novelty but reduced outcome usefulness. Factual information, under various conditions, both helped and hindered creative outcome usefulness. Overall, presenting information during idea generation can improve creative outcome effectiveness. Managers should be careful to present the appropriate information at the appropriate time, however.