Academic journal article Academy of Strategic Management Journal

How Harmful Is Playing Politics to the Innovation Process and Organizational Outcomes?

Academic journal article Academy of Strategic Management Journal

How Harmful Is Playing Politics to the Innovation Process and Organizational Outcomes?

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The main objective of this paper is to identify the influence, if any, of organizational politics on the innovation process and the performance of Mexican SME's. To this end, we designed an empirical study and applied a survey in 134 companies in the shoemaking industry.

As we expected, the results of our empirical research indicated an important relationship between innovation and organizational outcomes. The most important finding is that organizational politics did not affect organizational results; a surprising and counterintuitive fact as many authors and practitioners evaluate negatively the practice of politics inside businesses.

Keywords: Innovation Models; Organizational Politics; Organizational Performance

Purpose: The aim of this paper is to identify the influence of innovation on organizational performance. A moderating variable is the effect of organizational politics measured in Small and Medium Enterprises (SME's) involved in the footwear manufacturing industry from the state of Jalisco, Mexico.

Design/methodology/approach: We designed an empirical study and developed a questionnaire which was implemented in a representative sample of 134 companies and 421 subjects. Our methodology also included a case study and interviews. We applied the technique of linear regression analysis (OLS) and Pearson Correlation Coefficients to test our hypotheses.

Research limitations/implications: The results would be more competitive if different countries and different industries had been compared. This research is one more step in the often-neglected field of innovation and organizational politics.

Practical implications: This study provides interesting insights for managers into how to take advantage of a common behavior: the self-organization of employees with a specific goal in mind. In-company politics should not be seen as a dysfunctional or aberrant behavior but rather as a harmless factor in organizational life. Innovation should also h be included as a "must think about" in all companies involved in this field.

1. INTRODUCTION

Creativity is an individual process. It occurs prior to the innovation phenomenon defined as a "group process" and requires certain skills that both individuals, and groups possess. (McLean, 2005). However, it is not possible to talk about innovation if there is no a previous creative process marking the beginning of the process; one which identifies relevant problems and opportunities, obtains information, generates new ideas and explores the relevance of these ideas (Amabile, 1998). Creativity, and therefore innovation, will be possible if diversity exists in the working group and the exchange of ideas becomes common practice among people with different experiences and different backgrounds (Kanter, 1983). Given the above, attitudes such as hostility, arrogance, autonomy, independence and introversion have no place in an organization that requires innovation and creativity at work (Amabile, 1998).

It has been more than half a century since the debate about definitions of innovation began, particularly the way in which it should be evaluated and measured. One of the first authors involved in studying this subject-area was Schumpeter (1934), who made very specific distinctions about what invention, innovation, and the diffusion of such innovation meant. In this regard it is important to comment that the "Schumpeter" approach is one of the most analyzed approaches in the empirical scope, and, as will be mentioned later, this interpretation is based on two factors (size of the company and market power) that frequently lead to a technological innovation (Alaez, 2001).

Some researchers treat innovation typically as a fully-inclusive term, even when they are referring to different events or processes. Additionally, in some research, innovation is described in one dimensional term as referring to a new idea, product or process interchangeably. …

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