Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


ATLAS Institute

First Advisor

Maw Der Foo

Second Advisor

David R. Hekman

Third Advisor

Stefanie Johnson

Fourth Advisor

Jill Dupre

Fifth Advisor

Charles Naumer


Early evidence shows that constraints enhance groups' performance. However, the literature is scant on how constraints support collaborative creativity while showing they undermine individual creativity. The creative process involves exploring novel possibilities widely. This dissertation examines how groups and teams leverage constraints to coordinate exploration in a creative process. Using time pressure as a focal constraint, this research suggests that group members use deadlines to pace their collaboration relying on organizational encouragement. Analysis provides strong empirical evidence supporting this argument. When helping behaviors are pervasive, leveraging the diverse skills and knowledge of group members accelerates the search for novel ideas. Examining the effect of another constraint, researchers have posited a negative effect of rewards on individual creativity when rewards restrict choice. This assumes a binary effect of choice: individuals are either absolutely free or absolutely controlled. An all or nothing view is counterintuitive given the motivating power of rewards. Reward criteria may help groups bound a consideration set of alternatives rendering a search more manageable. Results offer initial support for this hypothesis. Investigating heuristics and biases as constraints, research shows that entrepreneurs do not avail themselves of rational, risk-analytic methods to make decisions. Rather, they rely on error-prone heuristics and biases as simplifying mechanisms to make fast decisions under conditions of uncertainty and ambiguity. Exploring how entrepreneurial teams use heuristics and biases to make challenging decisions that require a high level of creativity, analysis indicates teams leverage heuristics and biases in two ways: as sieves to winnow less promising ideas, and as tie-breakers to make a final selection from comparable ideas. Using a constraint-within-constraint approach, teams achieve creativity by exploring ideas widely while maintaining coherence through coordination. This research highlights the counter-intuitive importance of constraints for the creative work of groups. Contributions to the creativity and entrepreneurial decision making literatures are discussed.