Creativity in scientific teams: Unpacking novelty and impact
The increasing dominance of team science highlights the importance of understanding the effects of team composition on the creativity of research results. In this paper, we analyze the effect of team size, and field and task variety on creativity. Furthermore, we unpack two facets of creativity in science: novelty and impact. We find that increasing team size has an inverted-U shaped relation with novelty. We also find that the size–novelty relationship is largely due to the relation between size and team field or task variety, consistent with the information processing perspective. On the other hand, team size has a continually increasing relation with the likelihood of a high-impact paper. Furthermore, variety does not have a direct effect on impact, net of novelty. This study develops our understanding of team science and highlights the need for a governance approach to scientific work. We also advance the creativity literature by providing an ex ante objective bibliometric measure that distinguishes novelty from impact, and illustrate the distinct team-level drivers of each. We conclude with a discussion of the policy implications of our findings.