Role Expectations as Constraints to Innovation: The Case of Female Managers

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This article tested the hypothesis that role expectations may constrain or facilitate innovation. The case of female managers provided the context for this. Study 1 examined differential role expectations (for the roles of male and female managers) (N = 55), and Study 2 investigated the constraints of male and female manager roles on solution type and character. Using a focused interview format (N = 20), potential barriers to innovation were also examined. The results suggest that innovative solutions were attributed more often to a male than a female manager, whereas adaptive solutions were attributed more often to a female than a male manager. Risks identified as potential barriers to innovation among female managers included the risk attached to consequences of failure or mistake, the risk of criticism, and the risk of not receiving credit for ideas. However, differential role expectations did not have an impact on the production of actual solutions. The findings are discussed for their potential to complement existing research on role expectations and innovation as well as their implications for the development of a new research agenda.

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DOI: 10.1207/S15326934CRJ1401_8
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