Sparking creativity using extrinsic rewards: A self-determination theory perspective

Cai-Hui (Veronica) Lin, Helen Shipton*, Weili Teng, Adam Kitt, Hoa Do, Clint Chadwick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The relationship between extrinsic rewards and creativity has been subject to ongoing debate within the human resource management and creativity literatures. More research on the mechanisms and boundary conditions has been called for. In this study, using 187 employee-supervisor dyads in an electronics manufacturing company, we investigated how and when creativity-contingent extrinsic rewards (CER) may foster creativity among manufacturing employees. Drawing on self-determination theory, we hypothesized, and found that employee intrinsic motivation mediated the relationship between CER and employee creativity. This relationship was the strongest when employees rated their leader-member exchange (LMX) as high. The findings reveal the important role of CER in guiding manufacturing employees' intrinsic motivation and stimulating creativity. The identification of LMX as a moderator uncovers crucial boundary conditions of this relationship. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-735
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Resource Management
Issue number6
Early online date9 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Authors. Human Resource Management published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

Funding: British Academy. Grant Number: SG171397

Funding Information:
We thank Suzhou Good-Ark Electronics Co. Ltd, Jinagzhu province, China, who generously allowed access for the conduct of this research.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Human Resource Management published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.


  • boundary conditions
  • creativity
  • creativity-contingent extrinsic rewards
  • intrinsic motivation
  • manufacturing jobs
  • self-determination theory


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