A series of studies, which were summarised in Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge, discovered that creative people are more likely to cheat than other people. Worse: the act of inducing creative thinking can trigger unethical behaviour.
One study at an ad agency found that creative people like copywriters and art directors were more likely to fiddle their expenses or take home office stationery. The more creative their job, the more likely they were to self-report dishonesty.
So bad news if you employ creative people? Up to a point.
According to one of the researchers, “…moral flexibility is the mechanism explaining why being in a creative mindset or being a creative person puts you more at risk to do the wrong thing. Our ability to justify things is significantly greater if we are in a creative mindset or when we are creative people.”
So before you padlock the stationery cupboard, ask yourself how much people’s creativity is worth to you. If a copywriter’s work is worth a small fortune to you, perhaps a few missing biros is a reasonable price to pay for it.