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Organizational climate and innovativeness in the forest products industry

by Pablo Javier Crespell, A.
Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences ()

Abstract

There has been an increasing realization of the value of innovativeness, the orientation toward innovation, for firms thriving to gain competitive edge. The US forest products industry is no different in this respect and many companies have active initiatives to bring about creativity from their own employees. At the same time, academicians have devoted important resources to understand the dynamics of the innovation phenomenon. This research effort has also happened outside the domain of the forest products industry. However, most initiatives have taken a rather limited approach, failing to integrate a comprehensive theoretical model of innovation. Consequently, this study seeks to fill that gap in literature by proposing and testing a theoretical model linking organizational climate, innovativeness, and firm performance. In the first article, using an in-depth study of three Oregon-based forest product companies, I focus on the refinement of the scales to be used in the next stages of the project. The administration of a questionnaire to a sample of floor employees and management allowed the refinement of scales for the following constructs: Climate for Innovation, Organizational Commitment, and Interest in Innovation. The second article presents an in-depth case study of the most innovative company selected from the previous three. A questionnaire was administered to 70% of the employees and management, followed by qualitative interviews to a sample of them. The aim was to acquire a better understanding of the dynamics involved in the model. Findings validated the measurement properties of the scales and the structure of the model, showing significant positive correlations among Climate for Innovation, Job Satisfaction, and Organizational Commitment, measured as identification and involvement. Having a capable and committed management was found to be crucial in developing innovativeness within the firm. In the third article, the domain of interest is expanded to a nationwide study, including the complete US forest products industry, with 219 responding firms representing both primary and secondary manufacturers. General Managers and executives answered the questionnaire allowing for the assessment of the full theoretical model, including firm performance and Innovation Strategy. Results supported the model, finding a positive and significant relationship among all factors. Innovativeness is found to be affected by the organizational climate, with five dimensions of climate fostering it. Similarly, Innovation Strategy acts is found to act as an antecedent to Innovativeness. Innovativeness acts as a positive mediator between Climate for Innovation and Firm Performance. This is especially true for secondary manufacturers, who seem to be in a better position to capitalize on having a pro-innovation orientation. Climate for Innovation is also found to have a positive, direct effect on Firm Performance. This study contributes to the literature on innovation by offering an integrative theoretical framework, tested and analyzed with powerful techniques (structural equation modeling). Results place Innovativeness as a cultural phenomenon that can be directly affected by organizational dynamics of the work environment. This has clear managerial implications, and it is shown how management can foster Innovativeness by implementing an organic Innovation Strategy and by facilitating a Climate for Innovation. This climate is characterized by high levels of autonomy, supervisor encouragement, team cohesion, and openness to ideas and change. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)

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