Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

An Innovation-Driven Culture in Local Government: Do Senior Manager's Transformational Leadership and the Climate for Creativity Matter?

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

An Innovation-Driven Culture in Local Government: Do Senior Manager's Transformational Leadership and the Climate for Creativity Matter?

Article excerpt


Various forms of public management practices have been adopted by local government to enhance the quality of public services and accountability through managing for results, human resources management (HRM) reforms, and the devolution of responsibilities to managers (Boyne, Poole, & Jenkins, 1999; Brown, Ryan, & Parker, 2000; Hays & Kearney, 2001; Naschold & Daley, 1999; Walker, 2006). The significant need and demand for organizational change and innovation in local governance has been heightened by the challenges of decentralization, globalization, and increased citizen expectations (Hambleton & Gross, 2007).

Executive and managerial leaders in local governments, particularly, need to respond to these challenges with a proactive strategy that fosters an effective government culture and builds management capacity. An effective government culture is one that focuses on shared behavioral expectations and normative beliefs pertaining to innovation in work units, and is necessary for achieving successful reform initiatives and high performing government programs and policies (Hartmann & Khademian, 2010; Khademian, 2002). Accordingly, the key question for urban government leaders today is this: How should specific management reforms and leadership practices be utilized to cultivate and foster an organizational culture of innovation?

This article argues that the need for studying organizational culture, managerial leadership, and HRM reform in local government has increased due to significant demands for organizational change and innovation in local governance. Many studies have been conducted to better understand the relationship between leadership and organizational innovation (Hou, Moynihan, & Ingraham, 2004; Ingraham, Joyce, & Donahue, 2003; Jassawalla & Sashittal, 2002; Moon & Bretschneider, 2002; Prather & Turrell, 2002; Sarros, Cooper, & Santora, 2008; Waldman & Bass, 1991) and performance (Ogbonna & Harris, 2000; Xenikou & Simosi, 2006). Waldman and Bass (1991) note that transformational leadership and individual innovations are closely related. Transformational leadership theory emphasizes organizational leaders as change agents who initiate and implement new directions within organizations. To institutionalize change, transformational leaders need to deconstruct old practices and establish new ones based on innovative visions and ideas (Waldman & Bass, 1991).

Scholars and practitioners furthermore emphasize the importance of organizational flexibility, innovation strategy, and creative solutions in government agencies to effectively meet the changing and complex demands of governance (Fernandez & Rainey, 2006; Parker & Bradley, 2000). The concept of creativity demands government leaders' attention to creating a workplace climate that recognizes employees' creativity (Abbey & Dickson, 1983; Berman & Kim, 2010), fostering flexibility to change (Kanter, 1983), and providing resources for innovation (Amabile, 1988; Amabile, Conte, Coon, Lazenby, & Herron, 1996; Angle, 1989).

While there is increased research on transformational leadership (Moynihan, Pandey, & Wright, 2012; Wright, Moynihan, & Pandey, 2012) and creativity in the public sector (e.g., Berman & Kim, 2010), there is limited empirical research on senior managers' transformational leadership with respect to the climate for creativity in local government and associations with an organizational culture of innovation. The purpose of this study was to analyze how local government reform initiatives focusing on senior managers' transformational leadership building and the climate for creativity associate with employees' perceptions regarding a culture of innovation in their work units. Furthermore, this study explores how supervisors' transactional leadership controls the association between senior managers' transformational leadership and the culture of innovation. …

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