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Leveraging high cognitive trust to promote team creativity
Melody Pabon
Deep Dive – Part 5: Final Article
March 13, 2021
Leveraging high cognitive trust to promote team creativity
When a team is composed of members in charge of complex tasks that hold divergent
knowledge and skills in different areas, and perhaps come from different functional departments
in an organization, their success as a group is contingent on their ability to integrate relevant
knowledge that is distributed among its members. This article will explore the opportunity to
leverage high cognitive trust within a team to promote team creativity; specifically, it will look at
how team members’ willingness to rely on another team member’s expertise and reliability – or
cognitive trust - facilitates knowledge sharing (Barczak et al., 2010). The article begins by
highlighting the importance of this relationship to LOC practitioners, explores the implications of
cognitive trust on information sharing – thus fostering team creativity – and ends with
recommended best practices to foster information sharing and cognitive trust.
Importance to LOC Practitioners
There is a need to examine how leaders can set teams up to innovate as a competitive
marketplace demands organizations solve increasingly complex problems quickly. This innovation
process consists of two main activities: creativity and innovation. Executive team members and
team leaders should understand that team creativity doesn’t spontaneously combust from team
members that are clear on the collective goal. Creativity emerges synergistically when team
members interact in specific ways, where cooperation and collaboration among team members is
present; sharing information, knowledge, and novel ideas is the norm in order to successfully cross
fertilize ideas for effective solutions (Jain et al., 2015). A better understanding of the relationship
between cognitive trust and knowledge sharing will enable practitioners to help team create a solid
foundation for creativity and innovation to serve their organization and solve increasingly complex
problems quickly.
Leveraging high cognitive trust to promote team creativity
Opportunity Analysis
Team creativity is defined as “teams producing novel ideas and solutions to maintain the
firm’s competitive edge” as well as “the production of novel and useful ideas concerning products,
services, processes, and procedures by a team of employees working together” (Barczak et al.,
2010; Wu, 2016). The predominant theme in literature establishes that high cognitive trust
positively promotes team creativity with findings supporting the claim that teams aspiring to
increase creativity must focus on developing cognitive trust (Chowdhury, 2005). Various
explorations of these variables demonstrate team members’ positive perception of their colleagues’
are reliability and competence – essentially, cognitive trust - is vital to enhancing team creativity
(Barczak et al., 2010). Team members are more willing to ask for help to encourage sharing of
knowledge to improve their ability to deal with difficult problems when they perceive the
advantages of the expertise from the other team members (Wu, 2016).
A definite opportunity team leads have is to acknowledge knowledge sharing as playing a
facilitating role between cognitive trust and team creativity (Wu, 2016). Knowledge sharing as a
result of high cognitive trust is plays a critical function in fostering team creativity. The creative
performance of a team is critically dependent on both mobilizing tacit knowledge and fostering
interaction with explicit knowledge because the more individuals participate in knowledge sharing,
the more likely they are to contribute new information and advance ways to problem solve; (Wu,
Leveraging high cognitive trust to promote team creativity
There are various opportunities to establish the conditions necessary for cognitive trust in
order for knowledge sharing to occur. To build and sustain any type of trust, managers need to
create situations for formal and informal communication among team members. (Barczak et al.,
2010). Team leads can kick-off pre- and post- mortem meetings with an opportunity for team
members to self-identify strengths and weaknesses, as well as key takeaways from successful and
struggling team dynamics. Having requirements for team member recruitment include skills like
working with others, proven track record of reliability and being flexible would set a foundation
for cognition-based trust. Additionally, the creation of a team charter where the previous
experience, formal professional accolades, and prestigious awards of each member are visible
combined with consensus-building norms that require each team member to clarify intentions and
delineate the factors of independent decision-making process accelerate the formation of
cognition-based trust. Reliability in performing complex roles and educational qualifications,
special training, and relevant successful experience would foster high level of cognition-based
trust which allows an evaluating team member to trust them and actively engage in collaborative
work and seek knowledge from them (Chowdhury, 2005). When team members trust each other
to be competent and reliable, they are even more willing to exhibit collaborative behaviors like
complex-knowledge sharing, learning from one another, and accepting different viewpoints,
leading to an even more creative solution (Barczak et al., 2010; Chowdhury, 2005). Academic
sources argue that team members who exhibit professional behaviors by managing their own
emotions and those of their colleagues, such as being deliberate in decision making, are trusted
and relied on for their competence and ability which increases knowledge sharing and cognitive
trust (Barczak et al., 2010; Chowdhury, 2005).
Solving the complex problems of stakeholders, investors, consumers, and communities
requires teams to think outside of the box. The performance of creativity within a team is one that
has to be baked into the team’s DNA through cognitive trust and the knowledge sharing that results
for trusting in the competence and experience of team members. Organizations will be better
prepared to compete and succeed if they intentionally plan to foster that.
Leveraging high cognitive trust to promote team creativity
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Emotional Intelligence, Team Trust and Collaborative Culture. Creativity and Innovation
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Chou, H., Lin, Y., Chang, H., & Chuang, W. (2013). Transformational Leadership
and Team Performance: The Mediating Roles of Cognitive Trust and Collective Efficacy.
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Chowdhury, S. (2005). The role of affect- and cognition-based trust in complex
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Cirella, S. (2014), "Team creativity: A complex adaptive perspective",
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Jain, R., Jain, C., & Jain, P. (2015). Team creativity at work: A conceptual
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Kaufman, S. (2019). Organizational Trust: Strategies to Foster Cognitive- and
Affect-Based Trust among Virtual Teams. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
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