Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Cultural Factors of Organizational Innovation

Organizational culture is an important but often overlooked aspect of the innovative process. Without the right cultural tone the overall amount and quality of new products and services are likely to be reduced. The strength of the cultural underpinnings influence the success of employee thinking and supports the proper experimental mindset. 

When it comes to knowledge of innovative processes the literature is revealing. Yet there are other contextual factors that influence the success and contribution to such process. The literature is weak on the concept of tacit and difficult to define cultural factors of innovation (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995). It is these cultural influences that determines the mental state and commitment to the success of future innovations. 

Those who support that culture are often seen as entrepreneurs.  Such innovative entrepreneurs are risk takers who seize upon opportunities to develop something new (Sarasvathy, Dew, Velamuri & Venkataraman, 2003). It is the creation of new products and solutions to produce higher levels of development for personal and professional gain that seems to take precedence. 

Yet understanding who is willing to create innovation and the process of innovation doesn’t tell us how to engage in innovation on an organizational scale. The research on contextual culture and its impact on innovation are weak. Understanding how organizations develop and create an innovative culture is important for higher levels of performance. 

A case study of Tele by Meissner and Sprenger (2010) looked at innovative from a contextual, procedural and cultural perspective. The purpose was to determine the interdependencies and communication patterns that give rise to organizational innovation. The researchers used interview questions the company to help determine the most appropriate factors in developing this culture. 

-Aversion to experimentation impacts innovative growth within organizations.

-Power dynamics reduced the successful completion of projects. 

-Management education and learning predispositions impacted the effectiveness of innovative cultures. 


Culture factors are not easy to see or determine from standard analytical investigation. However, it is these cultural factors that impact the organizations predispositions to developing innovative products and services. Organizations that have a proper culture will make adequate cultural acceptance for experimentation, minimize power abusers and brokers, and continuously develop their management teams. Failure to provide the right context increases resistance to new ideas and thoughts that leads to higher avenues of revenue generation. 

Author: Dr. Murad Abel

Meissner, J. & Sprenger, M. (2010). Mixing methods in innovative research: studying the process-culture-link in innovation management. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 11 (3). 

Nonaka, Ikujiro & Takeuchi, Hirotaka (1995). The knowledge-creating company. New York: Oxford
University Press.

Sarasvathy, S., Dew, N., Velamuri, R. & Venkataraman, S. (2003). Three views on entrepreneurial opportunities. In Zoltan J. Acs & David B. Audretsch (Eds.), Handbook of entrepreneurship research (pp.141-160). New York: Springer.

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