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Organisational Cultures that Stimulate Creativity and Innovation

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Type of Academic Paper – Essay

Academic Subject – Organizational Culture, Creativity and Innovation

Word Count – 2700 words

Introduction

This essay seeks to address the organisation’s cultural determinants, which help stimulate creativity and innovation within a company. For most companies, motivating creativity and innovation are inevitable. In this essence, Martins and Terblanche (2003) have presented an article that focused on discussing the company’s determinants of culture, which fosters creativity and innovation.

The authors emphasised each determinant that contributes towards creativity and innovation. Therefore, this essay is intended to provide a critical review of the research of Martins and Terblanche (2003) and draw inferences from their findings to provide recommendations and conclusions based on their analysis.

The terms innovation and creativity are often used repetitively in the organisation. However, it is important to understand the difference between these terminologies to proceed with the critical review. In the light of Ford (1995), creativity is explained as the people’s formulation of fresh themes and ideas.

However, innovation is explained as the application of creative themes and ideas to generate greater value, usually through converting those new ideas into a successful business concept (Drucker 1985). In contemplation of sustaining a competitive advantage in the business, it is necessary to focus on its core competencies, which should revolve around innovation and creativity.

Discussion

Organisational Culture

In the present business situation, the cultural issues of the organisation are becoming increasingly significant and are also regarded as the key to the competitive advantage of the company. Martin and Terblanche (2003) carried out a literature study with a descriptive nature focused on describing the phenomena related to organisational culture, innovation, and creativity.

The literature study also highlighted the demand for innovation and creativity, which plays an important role in formulating the organisation’s culture. According to the literature study conducted by Martins and Terblanche (2003), organisational cultures are regarded as the critical factor in organisational success. Therefore, a prosperous organisation has the capability to engross innovation and creativity into the management processes and culture of the organisation.

The debate revolves around how the culture of an organisation integrates innovation and creativity, is explored from the authors’ different perspectives. In this essence, Hellriegel et al. (1998) argued that organisational culture is formulated from the individuals’ norms, values, philosophy, and behaviour. However, the organisation’s culture is also derived from coordination and internal integration (Furnham and Gunter 1993).

From the literature study, it was identified that internal integration is the method of socialising with the organisational members, creating a feeling of commitment among personnel of the organisation. On the contrary side, coordination is regarded as creating a competitive edge through the sense of environment and social system (Martins 2000).

Martins and Terblanche (2003) study believed that culture in the organisation helps fill gaps between what actually takes place and what is formally announced in the organisations. This rationale helps keep track of the strategy through which the organisation’s long-term goals can be achieved effectively.

Organizational Culture Dimensions

The key theme of Martins and Terblanche (2003) was focused on dimensions of organisational culture. However, an alternative view was presented by Sathe (1985), which portrayed a completely different picture of the organisational culture as he focused on leadership influences, personnel, behaviour patterns, and overall effectiveness of the organisation as the main dimensions of the culture.

But the model of culture proposed by Sathe (1985) also faces some criticism as it lacks examining the influence of external factors, which should be considered when assessing the organisation’s culture. Another model, which was proposed by Schein (1985), represented certain levels of organisational culture that considered values, namely artefacts and basic assumptions, to learn the problems related to internal integration and external adaptation.

Certain dimensions of organisational development can be associated with fostering creativity and innovation in the organisation, which are named, Goal Setting, Staff Development, Restructuring, and Change Management. It is argued that the traditional structures in the organisation might prevent rather than help in promoting creativity and innovation.

However, educating employees can be subjected to fostering innovation and creativity in the companies as in the present business situation; many companies focus on educating their employees. This can be viewed from the example of Shell Company, where the company recently underwent a change due to facing a continuous oil crisis. The employees in the company were told the reason for the change in order to implement a successful plan of change and foster innovation in the company.

In addition to the above statement, Martins (1987) developed a model which explains the culture of the organisation on the basis of leadership significance which is necessary for creating a learning culture of the organisation. The model proposed by Martin is grounded on an interface between the sub-systems of the organisation and two survival functions named internal systems and external environment.

Martins (2000) proposed the cultural dimensions include mission and vision, methods for achieving objectives, management processes, and other aspects such as the formulation of goals, decision making, leadership, and interpersonal relations. Furthermore, open and transparent communication can encourage trust in the organisation, which can positively influence creativity and innovation in the company.

 

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Innovation and Creativity in Organisations

The most important theme of the study conducted by Martins and Terblanche (2003) focuses on stimulating innovation and creativity in the organisation. The term innovation and creativity often listen to different platforms, books, and journals. A commonly cited definition of innovation is of Robbins (1996), who stated that innovation is the implementation of ideas for a new product or service.

However, in the organisation’s context, innovation is regarded as the implementation of new ideas that help the company save their costs, improve communication, and develop new personnel plans for the betterment of the organisation. Further to this, West and Farr (1990) offered a different concept to innovation as a direction that leads to change. Their explanation also focused on introducing and applying for new roles, ideas for organisation, processes, products, or procedures designed for the benefit of the organisation, individual and groups, or society in broader terms.

In different studies, authors define creativity as it focuses on generating new ideas and solutions to existing problems. However, some of the explanations focused on creativity focus on the environment of intellectual activities and procedures utilised to create new insights and solutions. On the other hand, the definition of Udwadia (1990) focused on the intellectual abilities of people and personal characteristics to be creative, while Arad et al. (1997) focus on products in terms of applying different quality concepts attempting for creative outcomes.

Both the terms innovation and creativity overlap due to the perplexity in their explanations. A practical example of creativity and innovation can be Apple which is considered the top innovative organisation all over the globe. The company focuses on fostering creativity and innovation by building innovative products and has an innovative business model. The company is committed to the culture of innovation and creativity by introducing highly innovative products.

It is argued by Drucker (1985) that innovation is often related to change management in the organisation because it is a direction that leads to change in the organisation, but change is co-dependent on innovation and creativity. This reflects that there is no specific definition of innovation and creativity as previously described by authors and practitioners. In a counterargument given by CIMA Study Text (1996), change cannot be observed as innovation because it does not necessarily involve new ideas that lead to improvement in the organisation.

According to the definition of Martins (2000), innovation is the implementation of new ideas which act as the solution of the problem and can be regarded as a new adoption unit because of which the change is fetched. In addition to this, creativity and innovation are also helpful in formulating the organisation’s culture, which also helps in achieving the organisation’s long-term objectives.

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Relating Organizational Culture to Creativity and Innovation

In the light of Martins and Terblanche (2003), the organisation’s culture seems to be a crucial factor in organisational success. It is argued by Syrett and Lammiman (1997) that successful organisations have exceptional capacities to absorb innovation into their management processes and the culture of the organisation. However, Tushman and O’Reilly (1997) were of the opinion that the culture of the organisation lies in the innovation in the organisation.

Interestingly, Martins and Terblanche (2003) have postulated basic elements of the organisation’s culture, which are shared values, behaviour, and beliefs expected from the members of the organisation. These elements influence innovation and creativity in two directions. It is cited by Chatman (1991) that through processes of socialisation in the organisation, personnel tends to learn which conduct is suitable and how the undertakings will function within the context of the organisation.

It was argued by Tesluk et al. (1997) that individuals, based on assumptions, will formulate their innovative and creative behaviour according to the environment in which the company operates. Google, which is the most leading company globally, has a gigantic culture of innovation in the company, which is focused on four cornerstones as voice, space, mission and transparency, which nurture the environment of innovation. According to the head of creativity and innovation programs, the employees at this department rediscover their attitude as a child by being curious and asking more questions that reflect the creativity of their minds.

Tesluk et al. (1997) reflected on undeveloped assumptions, morals and beliefs which become endorsed according to conventional forms of activity and behaviours. It is also reflected in policy, structure and management practices followed in the organisation. It can be asserted that the structure implemented in the culture can directly impact the creativity at the organisation, for instance, by providing resources to support new ideas development. In this manner, employees working in the organisation emanate to understand which activity and behaviour are valuable for the organisation and how they should behave in the workplace. In this essence, Martins and Terblanche (2003) proposed an interactive model which synthesises the norms and cultural values that impact innovation and creativity in the organisation. This model reflects on the dimensions that describe the degree to which each element influences the innovation and creativity in the organisation. Following is the roadmap of the model proposed by the authors:

Interactive Model by Martins and Terblanche

Figure 1: Interactive Model by Martins and Terblanche

According to the model presented above, the first element of the model is a strategy described by Robbins (1996) as an innovation strategy that promotes the generation and implementation of new products and services. It is argued by Covey (1993) that the derivation of innovation and creativity moves under a collective mission and vision, which reflects the forthcoming of the company.

In addition to this, the mission and vision of the company should be creative and innovative and also be customer-oriented, which is reflected towards solving their problems. For instance, the innovative and creative behaviour can be reflected from the following vision of an organisation: “Our organisation will focus on innovating boundlessly in to create fresh and value-added products and improve the current processes of the organisation” (Lock and Kirkpatrick 1995).

The second element is labelled as the structure where some of the authors identified that it influences the degree to which innovation and creativity are carried out in the organisation. In addition to this, well-established working teams will promote a diverse culture which helps in promoting innovation and creativity in the organisation.

However, it is argued by Arad et al. (1997) that the members of teams should have the sense of respecting and trusting each other and also comprehend their viewpoints in order to create an open environment for the support of new ideas.

The third element is the supported mechanism, which presents the organisational culture in order to create an environment that helps in promoting innovation and creativity for the benefit of the organisation (Shattow 1996). This includes rewards and appreciations and the provision of company resources such as technological resources and other resources to nurture a creative and innovative culture.

The fourth element in the interactive model is the behaviour that encourages innovation in the organisation. It is cited by Brodtrick (1997) that norms and values are the aspects that encourage innovation in a specific behavioural form and which eventually promote innovation and creativity in the organisation.

It also guides with methods in order to counter the mistakes, encourage new ideas and focus on continuous learning along with handling conflicts (Nystrom 1990). The last and most important element of the interactive model as proposed by Martins and Terblanche is communication. A culture of the organisation that supports a transparent and open culture is also found on the trust grounds that will have a constructive influence on encouraging innovation and creativity.

In the light of Samaha (1996), an open-door policy should include open communication between teams, departments and individuals in order to gain fresh perspectives, which are therefore necessary for fostering a creative and innovative culture in the organisation.

Conclusion

In conclusion to this essay, the research conducted by Martins and Terblanche (2003) is beneficial within the context of stimulating innovation and creativity in the culture of the organisation, but it suffers some major drawbacks in the methodology, such as explaining the whole context from the literature and keeping the research limited to theories and concepts proposed by different authors and practitioners. However, the authors can use several methods such as statistical techniques, questionable measurement tools or interviews to carry out the research.

It can, therefore, be concluded from the literature study that a creative and innovative culture has to be absorbed and practised by the subordinates within an organisation because it is beneficial for the company. However, there is a strong requirement for conducting experiential research in order to support academic findings of the research on culture determinants that supports innovation and creativity in the organisation.

From this viewpoint, the context of the study should incorporate more factors that reflect the culture of innovation and creativity in the organisation, such as leadership practices, use of technology or degree of authority given to the employees working in the company.

The importance of considering creativity and innovation for the sustainable culture in the organisation is also clear in the study of Martins and Terblanche, in spite of having some drawbacks. It is also challenging for post-industrial organisations to foster creativity, innovation and inventiveness. However, it is reflected from the overall study that the organisational culture determinants have a strong influence on innovation and creativity.

Recommendations

It is therefore recommended to the organisation to focus on leadership practices as leaders are the motivating source of the employees because of which they can focus on bringing innovation and creativity to the organisation. Secondly, organisations in this essence can also train their employees for the development of innovation and creativity for maintaining a learning culture in the organisation.

In terms of further research, it is suggested for Martins and Terblanche (2003) that they should incorporate new factors for analysing the determinants which are responsible for innovative and creative culture in the organisation.

Therefore, it would be interesting to understand the study if it incorporates case studies of a different organisation that has fostered its culture of innovation and creativity. Finally, this study can also be benefitted from the qualitative perspectives as it incorporates the personal views of managers who are responsible for maintaining the culture in the organisation.

References

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    CIMA Study Text (1996), Organisational Management and Development, Stage 3, paper 11, 3rd ed., BPP Publishing, London.
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