Innovation seems to be one of 2017’s trending words, and for good reason. Every company wants to remain competitive and profitable, and consistent innovation is critical to attaining this type of success. Nevertheless, innovation is multi-dimensional and complex. There are many factors that feed into the fruits of innovation but a key one that should be focused on is organizational climate as a predictor of innovation.

Innovation can be seen in two parts: the initial conceptual phase of an innovative idea, and then the implementation phase of that idea. It doesn’t help to have an influx of amazing ideas when there is no action to bring the fresh idea to life.

The South African working population was found to engage frequently in the conceptual phase of innovation, but less frequently in the implementation phase of innovation. So then, the question is, why are people only thinking innovation and not doing innovation?

It all relates back to the climate of an organization. An organisation with an innovative climate focuses on both the organisation’s resources (do I have what I need to make my idea a reality?) and the organisation’s support (I know they are going to like it if I come up with something new!).

These two factors were found to relate to individual innovative behavior. However, only one factor was found to predict the likelihood that an individual will engage in innovative behavior. The organisation’s resources was found to predict innovative behavior, whereas the organisation’s support to innovate was not found to predict an employee’s innovative tendencies.

This flags a bottle neck within the innovation process. No matter how much management sing the support of ‘Let’s innovate! We want your creative thinking!’, if they do not provide the necessary resources (such as the personnel, time, or funding) to assist employees in implementing their ideas, they might as well expend that energy on finding alternative ways of staying competitive.

Oh wait — that probably also means innovation.

Carli Myers

Myers, C.J. (2015). Self-Reported Individual Innovative Behaviour, Individual Thinking Style, Organisational Climate for Innovation, and Leader-Member Exchange. (Unpublished Master’s Dissertation).