When and How Artificial Intelligence Augments Employee Creativity

Forthcoming, Academy of Management Journal

USC Marshall School of Business Research Paper Sponsored by iORB

67 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2023

See all articles by Nan Jia

Nan Jia

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business

Xueming Luo

Temple University

Zheng Fang

Sichuan University - Business School

Chengcheng Liao

Sichuan University - Business School

Date Written: March 22, 2023

Abstract

Can artificial intelligence (AI) assist human employees in increasing employee creativity? Drawing on research on AI-human collaboration, job design, and employee creativity, we examine AI assistance in the form of a sequential division of labor within organizations: in a task, AI handles the initial portion which is well-codified and repetitive, and employees focus on the subsequent portion involving higher-level problem-solving. First, we provide causal evidence from a field experiment conducted at a telemarketing company. We find that AI assistance in generating sales leads, on average, increases employees’ creativity in answering customers’ questions during subsequent sales persuasion. Enhanced creativity leads to increased sales. However, this effect is much more pronounced for higher-skilled employees. Next, we conducted a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews with the employees. We found that AI assistance changes job design by intensifying employees’ interactions with more serious customers. This change enables higher-skilled employees to generate innovative scripts and develop positive emotions at work, which are conducive to creativity. By contrast, with AI assistance, lower-skilled employees make limited improvements to scripts and experience negative emotions at work. We conclude that employees can achieve AI-augmented creativity, but this desirable outcome is skill-biased by favoring experts with greater job skills.

Keywords: artificial intelligence, employee creativity, complementarity, substitution, field experiment, mixed methods

JEL Classification: M1

Suggested Citation

Jia, Nan and Luo, Xueming and Fang, Zheng and Liao, Chengcheng, When and How Artificial Intelligence Augments Employee Creativity (March 22, 2023). Forthcoming, Academy of Management Journal, USC Marshall School of Business Research Paper Sponsored by iORB, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4397280 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4397280

Nan Jia (Contact Author)

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business ( email )

701 Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles, CA California 90089
United States

Xueming Luo

Temple University ( email )

1810 N. 13th Street
Floor 2
Philadelphia, PA 19128
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.fox.temple.edu/mcm_people/xueming-luo/

Zheng Fang

Sichuan University - Business School ( email )

China

Chengcheng Liao

Sichuan University - Business School ( email )

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