Interruptions and multiple tasks: Advantages and disadvantages for creativity at work

Francesca Mochi, Nora Madjar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Our goal with this chapter is to theorize and systematically review the evidence about how interruptions of different types: intrusions, breaks, IT interruptions, distractions and multitasking may influence creativity. We first identify the cognitive and affective mechanisms through which certain job designs, in particular interruptions and multitasking, may influence creativity and the creative process – first, through the provision or depletion of cognitive resources, and second, through their effect on positive and negative affect. We review the research and evidence on how different types of interruptions and multitasking can have differential effects, both positive and negative, on cognitive resources and affect, and through these mechanisms on creativity. We also review some conditions and factors, such as time and frequency of interruptions, discretion to multitask, nature of intervening task that may influence the interruptions – creativity relations. One of the biggest implications of our review and theorizing is that managers and individuals need to be aware of the complex and more nuanced picture in the interruptions-creativity relation and the differential effects of interruptions and multitasking on creativity, as well as the conditions that may make them more valuable. Organizations can structure tasks and interruptions in a way to facilitate incubation and creativity by using the interruptions to replenish cognitive resources and influence affective mechanisms.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIndividual Creativity in the Workplace
EditorsRoni Reiter-Palmon, Victoria Kennel, James C. Kaufman
PagesN/A
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Keywords

  • creativity, interruptions, multitasking, cognitive resources, affect

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