Working Paper | HBS Working Paper Series | 2012

Componential Theory of Creativity

by Teresa M. Amabile


The componential theory of creativity is a comprehensive model of the social and psychological components necessary for an individual to produce creative work. The theory is grounded in a definition of creativity as the production of ideas or outcomes that are both novel and appropriate to some goal. In this theory, four components are necessary for any creative response: three components within the individual--domain-relevant skills, creativity-relevant processes, and intrinsic task motivation--and one component outside the individual--the social environment in which the individual is working. The current version of the theory encompasses organizational creativity and innovation, carrying implications for the work environments created by managers. This entry defines the components of creativity and how they influence the creative process, describing modifications to the theory over time. Then, after comparing the componential theory to other creativity theories, the article describes this theory's evolution and impact.

Keywords: Creativity; Theory; Social Psychology; Organizational Culture;


Amabile, Teresa M. "Componential Theory of Creativity." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 12-096, April 2012.