Organisational culture in knowledge creation, creativity and innovation: towards the Freiraum model

Journal of Information ScienceMy colleague Dr Jan Auernhammer and I were pleased to learn this week that an article on knowledge management and organisational culture that we submitted to the Journal of Information Science in July has been accepted. The full text of the version accepted for publication is available.

This paper draws on findings from an in-depth case study of practices related to the meeting of organisational goals pertinent to knowledge creation, creativity and innovation performance. Overall a mixed methods approach that used both quantitative and qualitative data was adopted in empirical research conducted within a large German manufacturing firm.

A quantitative analysis of survey data highlighted factors necessary to nurture an environment conducive to knowledge creation, creativity and innovation: the organisation should:

  • be open to change;
  • encourage and value free communication and new and/or unusual ideas;
  • tolerate mistakes;
  • nurture intrinsically motivated staff.

It should be supported by leaders who promote these characteristics as shared values, while challenging and empowering their staff to generate new ideas in a drive to further innovation.

Further analysis of focus group and interview data in the same case study identified three main determinants that underpin knowledge creation and creativity:

  1. structured “space” that creates expertise and experience of individuals while working in routine;
  2. willingness to innovate: individuals’ propensity to experiment with ideas, even at risk of failure;
  3. authorised and dedicated “space” designated specifically for individuals to explore of new ideas (“Freiraum”).

These findings have contributed to the development of a new articulation of the organisation of creativity and innovation. It draws on established concepts from the domain of knowledge and creativity management, and extends these to deepen our understanding of how aspects of organisational culture, including leadership and social conditions, influence organisational performance in terms of (a) improving knowledge creation processes related to creativity, and (b) fostering innovation.

Download the full text of the version accepted for publication.

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