In two experiments, we examine whether performance-contingent incentives facilitate the creative process by enhancing the initial preparation that precedes creative incubation. The defining characteristic of both experiments is a second-stage task that is separated in time from the first-stage implementation of different incentive schemes. In Experiment 1, the second stage takes place ten days after we implement conditions with quantity incentives, high-creativity incentives, incentives with a minimum-creativity threshold, and a fixed-pay control condition. In Experiment 2, we test the effects of incentives with an incubation period of 20 minutes, during which an experimenter escorts participants on a walk between compensated work periods. In both experiments, we find that participants with quantity incentives outperform the high-creativity production of their fixed-pay counterparts only in the second-stage task. Mediation analyses suggest that quantity-incentivized participants' propensity to try more divergent ideas in the first stage sparks their creativity advantage in the second stage.
JEL Classifications: D24; D91; M11; M41.