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Examining the Impact of Google Inc.’s Organisational Culture on Innovation and Work Environment

Introduction

Tubagus (2016) has noted that “creativity and innovation should be acknowledged as a company’s core capability.” Academics like Taha et al. (2016) assert that being creative and continually innovating has become a critical success factor for every business that wants to survive the current market environment.

Martina and Terblance (2003) found that creativity, innovation, and inventiveness are critical for today’s knowledge-based firms’ survival and success. Businesses must develop and foster a culture that promotes creativity and innovation (Schein 2004). There are gaps in the current literature regarding the relationship between culture, innovation, and the work environment.

One of the main issues is the definitions of culture and design. Both terms are associated with various connotations making it extremely difficult to completely comprehend and implement them within academic literature (Taha et al., 2016). Few empirical studies supported research findings on the relationship between organisational culture, innovation, and the work environment.

Research Question

Based on the dilemma present in current academia, it is critical to empirically assess the impact of organisational culture on the work environment and innovation. The recent study will attempt to fill this gap through rigorous research on these variables, especially when assessing which organisational culture can promote the most innovative work environment. The research question for the current study is as follows:

How does organisational culture influence the work environment to promote innovation?

The current research question will be answered by focusing on an organisation’s culture – Google Inc. currently caters to various products like search engines, android platforms, and multiple forms of technology. Many consider Google Inc. to be the “21st Century” organisation due to the work environment culture that they have produced for their employees.

Aims and Objectives

To answer the research, question the following main aim has been developed – gather and interpret using empirical data the best form of organisational culture that influences a work environment to become innovative. To achieve this specific aim, the following objectives need to fulfil:

1. Identify the influence of GoogInc.’s organisational culture on the work environment.

2. Assess how the developed to work environment can cultivate innovation among employees.

3. Analyse the impact of organisational culture on employees working in Google Inc.

4. Produce empirical data supported by subjective experiences to better contribute to the lack of literature on the impact of organisational culture on the work environment and innovation.

5. Prepare a framework that will aid firms in effectively developing an organisational culture that fosters innovation among employees.

Literature Review

Introduction

The particular chapter in the proposed research will discuss in-depth available literature from previous academic research papers. The academic literature will be acquired through searching peer-reviewed journals, white papers, and textbooks relevant to the research topic. The proposed study will use a thematic approach to analyse the various concepts seen throughout the literature.

Organisational Culture

French (1990) defined organisational culture as values, beliefs, assumptions, myths, norms, and goals widely accepted through an organisation. Academics like Rabinson (1988) describe organisational culture as imperative conventions that members of the group jointly accept.

Therefore, every organisation or group has its own culture. Nham et al. (2014) explain that organisational culture is like personalities that give firms meaning and provide them with the central axis for guiding their employees to carry out activities. Behaviours within an organisation are influenced by individual personalities that cumulatively develop assumptions shared by every member within the organisation as a set of behavioural patterns, ideas, and activities (Taha et al., 2016).

On the other hand, Janicijevic (2011) define organisational culture as a scheme of assumptions, values, norms, and attitudes that manifest themselves through the use of symbols that each member in the organisation have developed and adopted through mutual experience and aids them in determining the meaning of the environment around them.

Janicijevic (2011) further explains that these experiences and culture acceptance also show employees how to behave in it. The current study will be based on the definition proposed by Schein (2004) due to its comprehensiveness”– “a pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group has learned as it went about solving problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid.

Dess and Picken (2000) have argued that innovation is a crucial source of competitive advantage for businesses in a highly dynamic environment. Mone et al. (1998) argue that innovating is the most imperative factor of firm performance. Schumpeter developed a definition for innovation in the business context in the late 1920s.

Later on, Rogers (1995) defined innovation “s “as an idea, practice, or object that is perceived to be new by an individual or other unit of adoption. Nham et al. (2014) find that the Oslo Manual (2005) provides a more modern definition for innovation “s “implementation of new or significantly improved product, process marketing technique or new organisational methods in business practices, workplace organisation or external relationships.

Evolution of Organisational Culture and Innovation

Given the importance of innovation in the work environment, relatively little empirical work has been done on organisational culture and innovation. McLean (2005) conducted a series of searches in electronic catalogues in major universities libraries, journal indexes, and numerous search engines.

Burns and Stalker (1961) researched to compare electronic firms with more established industrial firms and concluded that organisation comes in mechanical and organic forms. According to their study, mechanistic organisations are more hierarchical, highly structured through well-defined, formal roles and positions; communication flow extends vertically in such organisations.

On the other hand, in comparison, organic firms were fluid in their organisational design noted with departments and teams being formed and reformed to address new issues or prospects; communication flowing using a lateral direction. Burns and Stalker (1961) concluded that organic organisations facilitated the better cultivation of innovation through organisational structure.

Kimberly (1981) challenged the conclusions of Burns and Stalker (1961). It was found that firms with a more centralised decision-making platform enhance their ability to implement innovations because of their more stable environment.

Amabile et al. (1996) conducted extensive work focusing on behaviour in the context of an organisation, which builds on organisational culture and innovation. She primarily uses qualitative psychometric approaches and developed the KEYS model to assess the climate for creativity and examine innovation’s work environment.

Amabile et al. (1996) concluded that innovative output could be cultivated through domain expertise, creative-thinking, and intrinsic motivatioKanter’sr’s (1983) research focuses on innovation based on a qualitative interpretive case study approach through assessing 100 companies using in-depth case studies.

Martins and Martins (2002) shifted from traditional research in the field to develop a model that can be implemented to promote creativity and innovation. The study places a greater focus on the direct impact of innovation through more empirical techniques. Unlike other academics, Martins and Martins (2002) conclude that strategy and behaviours encourage innovation, determined through their models.

Major factors revealed in the study included trust relationships, working environment, management support, and customer orientation on the operational level. Other recent studies like Taha et al. (2016) use a deductive approach to analyse the relationship between culture, creativity, and innovation. Taha et al. (2016) conclude that employees’ alignment of personal values with organisational cultural values is positively related to employees’ willingness to generate new ideas.

Another significant factor that contributed to greater innovation included open team communications about new ideas. However, the research lacked in examining the values as part of organisational culture, which shows a significant lack of literature regarding this topic. Naranjo-Valencia et al. (2011) argue that only a few studies have focused on the effect of culture on innovation, and most of them have focused on a few cultural characteristics, not on the archetypes of cultural values.

Conclusion

A preliminary literature review for the proposed study assesses the available work conducted on the topic of concern. Based on the initial literature review, limited knowledge is developed regarding the relationship between organisational culture, work environment, and innovation. Older studies focused on key characteristics that promoted innovation through the context of organisational structure.

Very few studies are available that review this relationship from an empirical point of view. Steiber and Alange (2013) is the only known study that uses empirical quantitative techniques to analyse the corporate culture of Google Inc. to identify characteristics that directly promote innovation.

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Research Methodology

Introduction

To solve the stated research problem and achieve the study’s aims and objectives, it is essential to plan and organize it. The solution of the current proposed study will be developed using a deductive research process. A deductive approach’s primary purpose is to be aimed at and tested towards theory (Babbie, 2013).

Unlike the inductive method, the course begins with a hypothesis, which generates new theory from emerging data while using research questions to narrow the study’s scope (Wilson 2010). The deductive approach places a greater emphasis on causality. Gulati (2009) argues that using the deductive method uses the path of logic more closely as reasoning begins with theories that lead to a brand-new hypothesis.

These hypotheses will be developed using a variable model highlighting the dependent, independent, and mediating variables. Results of the proposed study will be disseminated by submitting the thesis for approval at the university. The work will then be peer-reviewed and published in a peer-reviewed journal in the future. The work proposed to be developed can be posted internationally due to its novelty and need.

Research Approach

Research approaches and designs are commonly placed into two primary schools of thought; positivism and interpretivism. Positivism is used by researchers that are using quantitative methods of study as they believe in the existence of objective structures that are used to comprehend what something ‘is.’ On the other hand, interpretivism is a philosophy that is used to interpret subjective experiences and the structures of reality, which encompasses understanding what something ‘means.’

The current study plans to combine these philosophical assumptions, which are found under realism, reflecting both these basic ideas. Realism argues that both these stances are equally important when conducting research. Andrew and Halcomb (2009) maintain that it is imperative to combine their empirical reality’s comprehensions with differing individual experiences to study a topic appropriately.

Taking into consideration the premises placed above, mixed methods research will be used in the proposed study. It includes one quantitative method and one qualitative method, with neither one of them being wholly connected to a specific model (Creswell and Plano Clark, 2011). This will allow the proposed research to combine various quantitative and qualitative research approaches under one study.

Data Collection & Analysis

Sampling Methods

When beginning the research with quantitative techniques, it is essential to cast a wide net to ensure that many respondents are available to participate in the study. Therefore, the current study proposes the use of a simple random sampling technique to gather respondents. According to Zhao et al. (2014), simple random sampling is a basic sampling method used to select a group of respondents from a larger group or a population.

Each of the respondents is then entirely chosen by chance, and each member of the population has an equal opportunity to be included in the sample. Based on the estimated employee population size of Google Inc. in the UK, it has been agreed that a total of 100 (N=100) participants will be needed in the study. These questionnaires will be available through an electronic survey (i.e., Survey Monkey), sent to three Google Inc. offices in the UK for employees to fill out and submit.

As for the qualitative portion of the research, a minimum of six participants will be required. The sampling technique used in this portion of the study is homogenous purposive sampling. Palinkas et al. (2015) has noted that this form of selection allows for selecting respondents with shared characteristics. Hence the group of respondents that will be selected for the interview portion need to satisfy the following criteria.”

  1. Indicate on their questionnaire forms their interest in participating in interviews.
  2. Have experience working for Google Inc. for two or more years (≥ 2 years).
  3. Have experience of five or more years (≥ 5 years) working in the IT sector.

If willing participants have indicated all of these requirements in their questionnaire, they will be interviewed. The criteria for interviews and their purpose will be shown in a section on the questionnaire.

Research Instrument & Analysis

The proposed research will collect its data through a questionnaire survey distributed to individuals working in Google’s offices in the UK. The questionnaire will be composed of forty questions that look to assess the variables discussed previously. Each of the questions will have responses that need to be indicated using a five-point Likert scale. Qualitative data will be collected using semi-structured questionnaires conducted with some of these employees working in Google Inc. The qualitative analysis will be conducted for qualitative data using NVIVO 9.2.

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References

Amabile, T. M. 1988. A model of creativity and innovation in organisations. In. B. M. Stew & L. L. Cummings (Eds.), Research in Organizational Behaviour. JAI: Greenwich, CT.

Amabile, T. M. 1998. How to kill creativity. Harvard Business Review, 76, 77-89.

Babbie, E. R. 2013. The Basics of Social Research. Cengage Learning.

Burns, T, and Stalker, G. M. 1961. The Management of Innovation. Tavistock: London.

Creswell, J. W. 2014. Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. SAGE.

French, L. W., 1990. Human Resources Management (2nd eds). Houghton Mifflin: Ohio.

Girard, B., 2009. The Google Way. Paris, France: M21 Editions.

Kanter, R. M., 1983. The change masters: Innovation for productivity in the American corporation. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Kanter, R. M., 1988. When a thousand flowers bloom: Structural, collective and social conditions for innovation in organizations. In B. M. Straw & L. L.

Cummings (Eds.), Research in Organizational Behavior, 10, 123-167.

Kimberly, J. R. 1981. Managerial innovation. In P. C. Nystrom & W. H. Starbuck (Eds.), Handbook of Organizational Design. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Martins, E., and Martins N., 2002. An organizational culture model to promote creativity and innovation. SA Journal of Industrial Psychology, 28(4), 58-65

McLean, L. D. 2005. Organisational culture’s influence on creativity and innovation: A review of the literature and implications for human resource development. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 7(2), 226-246.

Naranjo-Valencia J., Jiménez-Jiménez D., Sanz-Valle R., 2011. Innovation or imitation? The role of organizational culture. Management Decision, 49(1)

Nham, P. T., Pham, P. H. G., and Nguyen, N., 2014. The impact of organizational culture of innovation activities- The case of X corporation in Vietnam. Journal of Global Management Research, 29-36.

Rabinson, B. R. (1988). Strategic strategy, Formulation and Implementation (3rd ed.). Irwin Toppan

Schein, E. H., 1992. Organizational Culture and Leadership (2nd Ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Steiber, A., Alange, S. 2013. A corporate system for continuous innovation: the case of Google Inc. European Journal of Innovation Management, 16(2), 243-264.

Taha, A. Sirkova, M., and Ferencova, M. 2016. The impact of organizational culture on creativity and innovation. Polish Journal of Management Studies, 14(1), 7-17.

Wilson, J. 2010. Essentials of Business Research: A Guide to Doing Your Research Project. SAGE.

Appendix A- Ethical Check List

Research ethics risk factors Yes No
1- Does the research involve vulnerable groups e.g. children, vulnerable adults, people with cognitive impairment, or in unequal relationships? No
2- Does the research require the co-operation of a gatekeeper for initial access to any vulnerable groups or individuals? (e.g. students at school, members of self-help group) No
3- Is it necessary for participants to take part in the study without their knowledge and consent at the time? (e.g. covert observation of people in non- public places) No
4- Does the research involve discussion of sensitive topics? (e.g. sexual activity, drug use, violence), or the disclosure of normally private information? No
5- Are drugs, placebos or other substances (e.g. food substances, vitamins) administered to the study participants, or do any of the research projects involve invasive, intrusive or potentially harmful procedures of any
kind?
No
6- Could any of the research projects induce pain, psychological stress or anxiety, or could it cause harm or negative consequences beyond the risks encountered in normal life? No
7- Does the research involve prolonged or repetitive testing? No
8- Is there a possibility that the safety of the researcher may be in question? (includes, in international research, locally employed research assistants) No
9- Is there a possibility that the safety of the researcher may be in question? (includes, in international research, locally employed research assistants) No
10- Does the research involve members of the public in a research capacity (for instance using the public as gatherers of data)? No
11- Will any of the research take place outside the UK? No
12- Will any of the research involve respondents to the internet or other visual/vocal methods where respondents may be identified? Yes
13- Will there be research that involves the sharing of data or confidential information beyond the initial consent given? No
14- Will financial inducements (other than reasonable expenses and compensation for time) be offered to participants? No
15- Is there any conflict of interest that might challenge the independence of the research? No
16- Is there a possibility of detrimental impact on the environment? No
17- Does the research use control groups? No
18- Is the research ever in receipt of external funding? No
19- Does the research ever require additional ethical consent from the NHS, a research funding body or another external agency? No

Appendix B- Research Timetable

Stage of the dissertation writing process Number of days/wks Start date End date
STAGE ONE: Reading and research
a) Seek to identify an original, manageable topic 14 days 01.01.2018 14.01.2018
b) Reading & research into the chosen topic 14 days 15.01.2018 29.01.2018
STAGE TWO: The detailed plan
a) Construct a detailed plan of the dissertation 2 days 31.01.2018 02.02.2018
STAGE THREE: Initial writing
a) Draft the various sections of the dissertation 3 days 05.02.2018 08.02.2018
b) Undertake additional research where necessary 25 days 10.02.2018 16.03.2018
STAGE FOUR: The first draft
a) Compile and collate sections into the first draft of the dissertation 10 days 16.03.2018 26.03.2018
b) Check the flow of the dissertation 2 days 26.03.2018 28.03.2018
c) Check the length of the dissertation 1 day 29.03.2018 29.03.2018
d) Undertake any additional editing and research 6 day 02.04.2018 09.04.2018
STAGE FIVE: Final Version
a) Check for errors 7 day 09.04.2018 16.04.2018
b) Prepare for submission 1 day 16.04.2018 17.04.2018
c) Final proof-read (by a friend or yourself) and final editing 2 days 17.04.2018 19.04.2018
d) Compile a bibliography 1 day 20.04.2018 20.04.2018
e) Get the dissertation bound 1 day 21.04.2018 21.04.2018
f) Submit your dissertation 1 day 23.04.2018 23.04.2018