The role of human resource development as an enabler of creativity

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Creativity has been recognised as an essential ingredient of Human Resource Development (HRD) to help enhance organisational success. However, there appears to be limited empirical evidence to show that HRD activities can actually stimulate the individual creative potential for growth and development and thus contribute to organisational performance and effectiveness.

This research aimed to investigate the role of HRD as an enabler of creative behaviours among employees. The thesis took a multiple and interdisciplinary research approach, utilising concepts from creativity and personality research to explore the impact of HRD interventions on the ability of employees to perform more creatively at work. The research also sought to identify and understand the factors facilitating creativity within HRD interventions as well as the role of the work environment in creative development.

The geographical context for this study was Northern Ireland and more specifically the hotel sector. Focusing on four of the SME hotels in the region, a mixed-method approach was adopted involving HRD interventions, creative self-assessments, participant observations and interviews. In terms of data collection, the researcher simulated HRD interventions in the form of creativity enabling workshops where a sample of managers from each hotel was asked to
participate in various activities, utilising tools designed to stimulate creativity. The researcher observed how factors such as teamwork and facilitator support impacted the creative solutions developed by the workshop participants. Additionally, prior to the workshop commencing, a survey instrument was used to capture participants’ perceptions of their creativity and creativity in their workplaces. Interviews were also conducted among a sample of workshop participants
and General/HR Managers to better understand their perceptions of the workshops as well as creativity more generally.

The findings highlighted that there is a direct connection between HRD and creativity, where the HRD interventions employed in the study appeared to increase awareness of the participants own creativity and produce more creative behaviours. The findings also illustrated that HRD interventions such as those employed in these workshops can facilitate creativity from across different levels of management. Clear evidence emerged that managers individually or as
members of a team may be spurred by such interventions resolved to address organisational problems by themselves, as well as when instructed to solve problems at the lower level of management. The study also found that barriers in the work environment may undermine the benefit of HRD interventions for creativity, with such barriers largely related to low organisational commitment to creativity, challenges of communication and trust between employees.

This thesis makes an original contribution to knowledge by narrowing the gaps in the literature on how HRD relates to creativity and the impact of the HRD-creativity nexus on individual and organisational performance. Several key theoretical and practical implications emerge from the findings facilitating the development of a conceptual framework that can be used as an underpinning for future research.
Date of AwardDec 2021
Original languageEnglish
SponsorsVice Chanchellor's Research Scholarship
SupervisorMartin McCracken (Supervisor), Judith Woods (Supervisor) & Sandra Moffett (Supervisor)


  • Creativity
  • Human resource development
  • HRD
  • Creative development
  • Employee creativity
  • Mixed methods

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