The Role of the Types of Organizational Culture in Innovation in Higher Education Institutions — A Study of Selected Libyan Public Universities

by Fathiya Abubaker Mohammed Idries


In recent years, innovation has become a very important element in organizations. The speed of innovation has accelerated through rapid technological development, an increase in the rate at which new products are introduced which has led to shorter product lifecycles. All of these have influenced global economic growth. It has been suggested that organizational culture is an important factor affecting innovation. A number of empirical studies have investigated the relationship between organizational culture and organizational innovation and their impact on organizational outcomes in the United States and Europe.

However, there is a dearth of studies undertaken in the North Africa region, particularly in Libya. This study, therefore, aimed to investigate the relationship between organizational culture and organizational innovation and, in particular, to identify the type of culture that has the greatest impact on organizational innovation in higher education institutions in Libya. A quantitative method was used to answer the research questions that guided the study. Two different models of Organizational Innovation and Organizational Culture were incorporated in the study. The Organizational Innovation Assessment Instrument developed by Perry 6 (1993) and Shin (1996) was used to evaluate organizational innovation, while the Competing Value Framework defined by Cameron and Quinn (1999) was used to assess the organizational culture types.

The Competing Values Framework (Cameron, Quinn, 1999) provides the basis for a discussion on how organizational culture may affect organizational innovation. In the study, organizational culture was hypothesized to have a positive correlation with frequency of organizational innovation. Furthermore, the study proposed that four culture types are related with organizational innovation types. To test these hypotheses, data were collected from 600 employees in higher education institutions in Libya. Respondents for the study included executives, administrators, and faculty members at six universities located in Tripoli, Benghazi, Sirte, Misrata, Al-zawia and Sabha.

A descriptive analysis of the independent variables confirmed that the overall dominant culture type in the public universities was hierarchical in nature. Institutions reported implementation of administrative innovations with higher frequency than technical innovations. Specifically, the administrative innovation of “Building a new inter-organizational relationship with other organizations” was being practiced widely. Pearson Correlation and Multiple Regression analysis measured the relationship between the independent variable and the dependent variable. The Pearson Correlation results indicated that four culture types were significantly related to organizational innovation.

Specifically, a moderate positive correlation was found between clan, adhocracy and market culture types and frequency of organizational innovation. However, the hierarchy culture had a low positive correlation with organizational innovation. The regression analysis results suggest that the clan, adhocracy, market, and hierarchy culture types were significant predictors of organizational innovation types. Specifically, market culture had the greatest impact on technical innovation as the dependent variable.

Likewise, the hierarchy culture had the greatest impact on administrative innovation as the dependent variable. In summary, organizational innovation in higher education institutions in Libya is associated with organizational culture. The findings of this study are especially important for managers of academic institutions that plan to develop a strategy to support innovation programs.

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