Symmetrical and asymmetrical analysis of the complex relationship between perceived environmental uncertainty and creative performance: exploring a competency formula

Mahlagha Darvishmotevali, Catherine Prentice, Levent Altinay

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: In a dynamic and complex environment, employees’ creative performance (CP) can be essential in developing a distinguished and competitive strategy for an organization. Using the lens of competency management, this study aims to examine how employees perceived environmental uncertainty (PEU) and competency formula relate to employee CP, with a focus on the hospitality industry. Design/methodology/approach: The data was collected from employees in the hospitality sector. Both symmetrical (PLS-SEM) and asymmetrical (fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis [fsQCA]) tests were performed to gain in-depth knowledge of how individual, organizational and environmental factors can be configured to explain employees’ CP. Findings: The symmetrical analysis shows that the competency formula mediates the negative impacts of PEU on two dimensions of creativity – that is, novelty and utility. The fsQCA testing generated contrasting findings and revealed that uncertainty, along with the formula elements, is a unique antecedent condition and opportunity for employees’ CP. The inconsistent findings indicate asymmetrical and complex relationships between the proposed antecedents and outcomes in the case of employee creativity. Practical implications: A combination of symmetrical and asymmetrical approaches is necessary to uncover the complex relationships among employees, organizations and the environment. This study shows that organizational agility, competency strategies and comprehensive strategic management processes can be configured to explain positive outcomes for organizations during uncertain circumstances. The findings can be used by human resource practitioners to maximize employee creativity and enhance organizational performance. Originality/value: To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study is the first to use symmetrical and asymmetrical testing to address the inadequacy of explaining employee CP in complex and uncertain environments, and highlight the crucial role of the competency formula in enhancing novelty and utility dimensions of CP. This research examines the impact of various internal and external factors (i.e. individual, organizational and contextual) on employee creativity within the hospitality industry.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Early online date16 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


  • Competency
  • Employees’ creativity
  • fsQCA
  • SEM
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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