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Rev Lat Psic 2016;48:30-41 - DOI: 10.1016/j.rlp.2015.09.009
Original article
Studying the links between organizational culture, innovation, and performance in Spanish companies
Estudiando el vínculo entre cultura organizacional, innovación y desempeño en empresas españolas
Julia C. Naranjo-Valenciaa,, , Daniel Jiménez-Jiménezb, Raquel Sanz-Valleb
a Departamento de Ingeniería Industrial, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Sede Manizales, Colombia
b Departamento de Organización de Empresas y Finanzas, Universidad de Murcia, Spain
Recibido 10 septiembre 2012, Aceptado 06 marzo 2015
Abstract

Innovation is considered to be one of the key factors that influence the long-term success of a company in the competitive markets of today. As a result, there is a growing interest in the further study of the determining factors of innovation. Today, the focus is on these factors related to people and behavior, emphasizing the role of organizational culture, as a factor that can both stimulate or restrain innovation, and therefore affect company performance. However, there is little empirical research linking these variables, particularly in the Spanish context. The purpose of this paper is to study these links by using a sample of industrial companies. The results show that culture can foster innovation, as well as company performance, or it could also be an obstacle for both of them, depending on the values promoted by the culture. It has been found specifically, that an adhocratic culture is the best innovation and performance predictor. Based on these results, it can be concluded that, innovation mediates the relationship between certain types of organizational cultures and performance.

Resumen

La innovación se considera como uno de los factores clave del éxito a largo plazo de una empresa en los mercados competitivos actuales. Como resultado, existe un creciente interés por profundizar en los determinantes de la innovación. En la actualidad la atención se centra en los determinantes relacionados con las personas y el comportamiento, y hace hincapié en el papel de la cultura organizacional como un factor que puede estimular o frenar la innovación y por lo tanto afectar el desempeño de las empresas. Sin embargo, existe poca investigación empírica que vincule estas variables, en particular en el contexto español. El propósito de este trabajo es estudiar estos vínculos en una muestra de empresas industriales. Los resultados muestran que la cultura puede fomentar la innovación y el desempeño de la empresa o puede actuar como una barrera para ambos, dependiendo de los valores que fomenta la cultura. En particular, se encuentra que la cultura adhocrática es el mejor predictor de innovación y desempeño. Además, sobre la base de los resultados, se concluye que la innovación media la relación entre cultura y desempeño.

Keywords
Organizational culture, Innovation, Performance
Palabras clave
Cultura organizacional, Innovación, Desempeño

Firms currently must operate in an environment characterized by ever increasing global competition, changing customer demands, rapid technical changes, and uncertainty (Droge, Calantone, & Harmancioglu, 2008; Im, Montoya, & Workman, 2012). Within this context, innovation is considered critical for achieving sustainable competitive advantages and therefore for firm success (Damanpour & Gopalakrishnan, 2001). That is mostly due to the fact that innovative firms are more flexible and can respond to change more quickly; they go the extra mile when it comes to creating new opportunities and exploiting existing ones (Drucker, 1985). Empirical research provides support for a positive relation between firm innovation and performance (Damanpour & Gopalakrishnan, 2001).

Given the importance of innovation in improving firm performance, a number of studies have attempted to identify the factors that can enhance innovation (Koc & Ceylan, 2007). Currently one of the variables deemed to have great influence on innovation is organizational culture (Büschgens, Bausch, & Balkin, 2013; Lin, Donough, Lin, & Lin, 2013). Because organizational culture influences employees’ behavior, it may lead the personnel to accept innovation as a fundamental value of the organization and to feeling more involved in it (Hartmann, 2006).

Despite the importance given to culture as a stimulant for innovation, empirical research on the topic is somewhat limited. Some studies on the link between culture and innovation merely look into some elements of culture (Cabello, Carmona, & Valle, 2005; Hage & Dewar, 1973; Laursen, 2002) whereas others do not use the same cultural traits or typologies (Chang & Lee, 2007; Lau & Ngo, 2004; Obenchain & Johnson, 2004). Besides, recent studies underpin the need for empirical research on organizational culture and innovation (McLaughlin, Bessant, & Smart 2008; Nakata & Di Benedetto, 2012; Tellis, Prabhu, & Chandy, 2009).

The purpose of this paper is to bridge a gap in the literature on the topic. First, a literature review was made and the most important characteristics related to innovative cultures were identified and compared to the cultural dimensions and typologies identified in the Competing Values Model. The research aims to identify what model or what model typologies stimulate more innovation and performance. In addition, considering that culture enhances performance and innovation and that innovation in turn affects performance, another question arose, “Is the influence of culture on performance direct or is it mediated by innovation? Innovation's role of mediator in the relation between culture and performance has not yet been studied in the literature on the topic. Furthermore, it all becomes more interesting upon taking into account Crossan and Apaydin (2010), who stated that a possible manner for advancing in innovation research is to test the connection between identified innovation determinants, innovation outcomes, and firm performance.

The first section of this article reviews the literature on the topic. The second section discusses an empirical study of the links among organizational culture, innovation, and performance, which used a sample of Spanish companies. The final section draws the conclusions of the study and discusses future lines of research.

Theoretical framework

Studying the indirect effect of culture in the performance, involves testing, besides the direct effect of culture on firm performance, the effect of culture on firm innovation and the effect of firm innovation on performance. These relations are developed in the following sections. It is important to clarify that the effect of culture on firm innovation in the second relation has already been partially tested by the authors in previous research (Naranjo-Valencia, Jiménez-Jiménez, & Sanz-Valle, 2012), and it is taken up here again, since it is required to complete the model of relations. Two types of culture were discussed in the previous research: adhocratic and hierarchical culture. In addition to these, this paper includes clan and market cultures.

Innovation and performance

Innovation has been conceptualized in a variety of ways. OECD (2005: 46) defines innovation as “the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service), or process, a new marketing method, or a new organizational method in business practices, workplace organization or external relations”.

Innovations may be classified using different criteria. OECD (2005: 17) distinguishes between four types of innovations: Product innovations involve significant changes in the capabilities of goods or services, both entirely new goods and services and significant improvements to existing products are included. Process innovations represent significant changes in production and delivery methods. Organizational innovations refer to the implementation of new organizational methods, these can be changes in business practices, in workplace organization or in the firm's external relations. Marketing innovations involve the implementation of new marketing methods, these can include changes in product design and packaging, in product promotion and placement, and in methods for pricing goods and services.

In general, the literature on the topic considers innovation one of the key drivers for long-term corporate success, especially in dynamic markets (Damanpour & Gopalakrishnan, 2001). The rationale behind the idea is that innovation often serves to deal with a turbulent external environment. To survive in Schumpeterian environments, organizations must be able to cope with increasing complexity and high-speed change. In such contexts, companies with the capability to innovate will be able to respond to the challenges faster, manufacture improved new products, and exploit market opportunities better than non-innovative companies (Jiménez-Jiménez, Sanz-Valle, & Rodriguez-Espallardo, 2008).

Many studies have demonstrated the positive effect of innovation on performance (Afcha, 2011; Damanpour & Gopalakrishnan, 2001; De Clercq, Thongpapanl, & Dimov, 2011; Droge et al., 2008; Gálvez & García, 2012; Prajogo, 2006; Roberts & Amit, 2003; Subramanian & Nilakanta, 1996). Thus, despite some conflicting evidence (Zhang, 2011), theory and empirical research suggest a positive relation between innovation and firm performance. Therefore, the first hypothesis proposed is:H1

Firm innovation is positively associated with firm performance.

Organizational culture and innovation

Given the importance of innovation in firm success, a number of studies have attempted to identify its main determinants (Crossan & Apaydin, 2010). In general, they can be grouped into individual level, organizational level, and environmental level. Within organizational level, the literature refers to size, organizational design, strategy, leadership, human resource practices, financial support, and organizational culture. Out of them all, the ones that stand out most are organizational design and organizational culture (Damanpour, 1987, 1991; Mumford, 2000).

Organizational culture can be defined as the values, beliefs and hidden assumptions that the members of an organization have in common (Miron, Erez, & Naveh, 2004). Such shared values form the basis of communication and mutual understanding and affect employee behavior through its two main functions: internal integration and coordination (Hofstede, 1988; Martins & Terblanche, 2003). Thus, culture can stimulate innovative behavior among the members of an organization because it can lead them to accept innovation as a basic value of the organization and foster commitment to it (Hartmann, 2006).

Empirical research has also provided evidence of a significant relation between culture and innovation (Büschgens et al., 2013; Chang & Lee, 2007; Lau & Ngo, 2004; Lin et al., 2013; Miron et al., 2004; Naranjo-Valencia et al., 2012). What the literature on the topic has not clarified enough is what types of culture enhance or inhibit innovation.

In order to identify the characteristics of an innovative culture, the model proposed by Cameron and Quinn (1999) was used, the Competing Values Framework (CVF), this model is one of the most influential and extensively used models in the area of organizational culture research (Yu, 2009).

Cameron and Quinn (1999) define four cultures – adhocracy, clan, market and hierarchy – using two dimensions (see Fig. 1): flexibility and discretion versus stability and control and external focus versus internal focus and integration. Using these along with six organizational aspects-dominant characteristics, organizational leadership, employee management, the organizational glue, strategic focus, and criteria for success – they determine four types of organizational cultures.

Figure 1.
(0.06MB).

The adhocracy culture emphasizes flexibility and change; it is externally orientated. It is usually seen in companies that operate in dynamic contexts and in those seeking to be leaders in their markets. The key values in an adhocracy culture are creativity, entrepreneurship, and risk taking. The clan culture also stresses flexibility but it is internally focused. Characteristics of clan culture firms are teamwork, employee involvement, and corporate commitment to employees. A market culture preaches control and stability and is externally oriented. The core values of firms with this culture are goal achievement, consistency, and competitiveness. Finally, a hierarchy culture is also control-oriented but it focuses on the internal organization. Its key values are efficiency and close adherence to norms, rules and regulations (Sanz-Valle, Naranjo-Valencia, Jiménez-Jiménez, & Perez-Caballero, 2011).

Having defined the types of models suggested by Cameron and Quinn (1999), their relationship with innovation is now examined. First, a review of the literature that analyzes the culture values that foster innovation. Table 1 summarizes the literature on the topic. As may be appreciated in Table 1, there is general consensus regarding four characteristics or cultural values that enhance innovation: creativity, freedom/autonomy, a risk-taking attitude, and teamwork (Naranjo-Valencia, 2010).

Regarding creativity, innovation relies on the appearance of new and creative ideas (Mumford, 2000) and innovation is achieved by combining creativity and the implementation of such ideas. Therefore, an enterprise needs creative people to support the processes, not only those associated with developing ideas, but also those involving the selection, assessment, and execution of the ideas (Jamrog, Vickers, & Bear, 2006; McLean, 2005). Hence, an innovative culture should, on one hand, encourage employees to take time to think creatively and experiment (Shattow, 1996), and, on the other, encourage them to seek new ways to tackle problems and explore their ideas even if the value of the results may not be clear (Miron et al., 2004).

Freedom, which manifests itself as autonomy, empowerment, and participation in decision-making (Isaksen & Ekvall, 2010; Martin, 2002) is one of the most common elements associated with an innovative culture. An atmosphere of freedom and autonomy increases the employees’ intrinsic motivation, considered a key factor in promoting creativity in an organization (Amabile, 1998; McLean, 2005).

As for risk taking, companies have realized that successful innovation is not achieved on the first try (Claver, Llopis, Garcia, & Molina, 1998). If the firm perceives that risk taking is dangerous and may not produce good results, the personnel will not risk any creativity, innovation or experimentation (Filipescu, 2007).

A comparison of the above-mentioned characteristics to the types of culture developed by Cameron and Quinn (1999) leads to the conclusion that, flexibility-oriented cultures enhance innovation because flexibility is associated with creativity, freedom, and a risk-taking attitude, whereas cultures that stress stability and control may inhibit innovation. Empirical research provides evidence to justify that relation (Jaskyte & Dressler, 2005; Jaskyte & Kisieliene, 2006). Moreover, externally oriented cultures can be expected to foster innovation more than internally oriented cultures. Whereas customer orientation aids the initiation stage by directing product developers toward external users, seeking their input to hone new product ideas (Im, Nakata, Park, & Ha, 2003), if a company stays locked inside its own four walls, It is not able to discover and exploit opportunities outside its existing businesses or beyond its current technical or operational capabilities (Wolpert, 2002).

Then, the type of culture of the CVF expected to most foster innovation is an adhocracy culture as it emphasizes flexibility and is externally orientated. On the contrary, a hierarchy culture inhibits innovation because the values that it emphasizes hinder it: control and stability and an internal orientation. Besides the key innovation values (i.e. creativity, freedom, and a risk-taking attitude) are missing.

In relation to the other two types of culture model (the market and the clan), it is necessary to deepen their characteristics to clarify the relationship. Taking into account the characteristics of a clan culture, it may foster innovation as it emphasizes teamwork and employee participation. If the work team has a diversity of talented interdisciplinary members who come up with challenging ideas and incorporating new experiences and information it will promote creativity and innovation (Castañeda, 2015; Jamrog et al., 2006; Martins & Terblanche, 2003; McLean, 2005). However, the evidence provided in empirical studies regarding this topic is non-conclusive. Whereas Llorens, Ruiz, and García (2005) find that cohesion of teams fosters innovation and Moore (1997) proves that it encourages creativity, other studies present evidence to the contrary. For example, Scott and Bruce (1994) find no particular effect on innovative behavior when team members are changed. Finally, Jaskyte and Kisieliene (2006) observed that an organizational culture characterized by stability and guidance for the team is inversely related to innovation. In addition, a clan culture is internally focused, which may reduce the firm's access to new ideas and opportunities. Wolpert (2002) states that if a firm is stuck within their own four walls, it will be unable to discover and take advantage of opportunities.

In the case of market culture, there are several facts in favor of and against it. The external orientation of a market culture encourages innovation as offering new ideas and markets the company familiar with the needs of customers (Reid & Brentani, 2004; Salavou, Baltas, & Lioukas, 2004; Song, Thieme, & Xie, 1998). In contrast, other studies find that excessive attention to the current needs of customers can be a barrier against some types of innovation (Baker & Sinkula, 2002), however, in general, the literature on the subject believes that the external orientation encourages innovation. Additionally, the market culture – according to its definition in the model of Cameron and Quinn, emphasizes control and stability rather than flexibility, which is a constraint to innovation.

In short, the relation between innovation and a clan culture or a market culture is not clear. The literature on the topic solely provides clear arguments and evidence for the links between an adhocracy culture or a hierarchy culture and innovation. Therefore, we propose the following hypothesis:H2

Organizational culture affects firm innovation. In particular, an adhocracy culture has a positive effect on firm innovation whereas a hierarchy culture has a negative impact on firm innovation.

Organizational culture and performance

The above sections propose that organizational culture enhances firm innovation and that innovation is related to performance. Therefore, the fact that culture has an indirect effect on performance may be assumed. However, the assumption in the literature on the topic is that culture is directly related to performance because culture influences the behavior of the members of the organization (Galves & García, 2011; Hofstede, 1988; Martins & Terblanche, 2003), as explained above. Furthermore, according to the resource-based view of the firm, culture can be a source of sustainable competitive advantage not only because it is valuable and rare but also because it is difficult for competitors to imitate as many of its most important characteristics are tacit and highly complex (Coyne, 1986).

Furthermore, the literature suggests that different types of culture have a different effect on performance. Gordon and DiTomaso (1992) study the effect of the cultural orientations adaptability vs. stability on financial performance in a number of U.S. firms. They concluded that companies that emphasize adaptability tend to have better financial performance than companies that emphasize stability. On the contrary, Xenikou and Simosi (2006) studied a sample of Greek organizations and they concluded that the achievement orientation (market culture) was related to performance whereas the humanistic orientation (clan culture) was not, and indicated that the organizational norms that promote goal setting, productivity, and effectiveness were related to high performance. The study conducted in Japanese companies (Tokyo) by Deshpande, Farley, and Webster (1993) showed that the market culture is associated with better performance, followed by the adhocracy culture, and that the clan culture and the hierarchy culture are associated with poor performance.

Other studies used other typologies such as the cultural trait typology that can be compared to Cameron and Quinn's. Said typology, developed and tested by Denison and Mishra (1995), mention the traits involvement, adaptability, mission, and consistency (they share the same cultural-type orientation introduced by Cameron and Quinn), which correspond to the cultural types: clan, adhocracy, market and hierarchy, described above.

Denison and Mishra (1995) conducted a study in the U.S., concluding that the four traits are positively related to subjective measures (quality, employee satisfaction, and overall performance). Fey and Denison (2003) conducted a study using Russian firms and compared its results to those obtained in similar studies in the U.S. In general, they concluded that the adaptability and involvement (adhocracy and clan) of companies with a flexible orientation are the most relevant traits of effectiveness in the Russian context whereas in the U.S. context, mission (market culture) is important. Likewise, Chan, Shaffer, and Snape (2004) concluded based on a study in Hong Kong that adaptability (adhocracy) were the trait more related to performance.

The four cultural types have different effects on business performance. First, the expectation for the adhocracy culture (adaptability), characteristic of organizations that are leaders in products and innovation, which stimulate the entrepreneurial mindset, initiative, creativity, and a risk-taking attitude, is that it would have a positive effect on performance. Calori and Sarnin (1991), for example, it was found that companies that value adaptation are likely to create ambitious objectives, give priority to customer satisfaction, and show willingness to try out new ideas. Such values and practices were closely related to growth in the firms that those authors studied. In general, prior research provides evidence that the adhocracy culture has a positive effect on performance (Chan et al., 2004; Denison & Mishra, 1995; Deshpande et al., 1993; Fey & Denison, 2003; Gordon & DiTomaso, 1992).

Second and sharing the same external orientation emphasis is the market culture; these companies promote ambitious, competitive objectives; their people are result-oriented and success is based on market penetration and market share. Organizations in which “efficiency and achievement is the norm” motivate employees by setting difficult yet attainable goals and by providing feedback on employee performance, which in turn promotes a perception of competence and feelings of self-efficiency and collective efficacy (Xenikou & Simosi, 2006). Furthermore, the market culture (Chan et al., 2004; Denison & Mishra, 1995; Deshpande et al., 1993; Fey & Denison, 2003; Kotrba et al., 2012) is also found to improve performance, mainly when the performance measuring stick is market results.

There is also evidence that the clan culture and, in general, all cultures that enhance cooperation and teamwork have a positive effect on performance (Petty, 1995). Equally, a high level of involvement fosters a strong sense of psychological ownership and commitment to the organization and its goals (Denison & Mishra, 1995). Although Deshpande et al. (1993) found a negative effect and Xenikou and Simosi (2006) did not obtain any significant results for the relation between this culture, which they called humanistic orientation, and performance, other studies provide evidence of a positive relation (Denison & Mishra, 1995; Fey & Denison, 2003; Gordon & DiTomaso, 1992).

Finally, the hierarchy culture has limitations in current changing environments where the ability to adapt becomes essential for successful performance, as this type of culture often shows most resistance to change and adaptation. Its bureaucratic nature appears to be an obstacle in the organization's struggle to respond to fundamental environmental change (Denison & Mishra, 1995). Although some studies have found a positive relation between the hierarchy culture and some levels of organizational results (Chan et al., 2004; Denison & Mishra, 1995) or a non-significant relation (Fey & Denison, 2003), the general literature on the topic provides evidence that its effect on performance is negative (Deshpande et al., 1993; Gordon & DiTomaso, 1992; Han, 2012).

Existing literature does show a precedent of the importance of the cultural types on effectiveness. However, several of the studies are conclusive in terms of correlations among variables, although they do not show significant results in the regressions. In addition, the conclusions are based on U.S., Russian, Japanese and Greek companies. The literature on the topic suggests that national cultures probably influence the behavior of the management theory, which certainly justifies a study in the Spanish context, not yet conducted much less assessed.

Taking into account all of the above considerations, the third hypothesis proposed is:H3

Organizational culture affects performance. More specifically, the adhocracy culture, the market culture, and the clan culture have a positive effect on performance whereas the hierarchy culture has a negative effect.

As discussed above, prior research has shown a direct causal relation between culture and performance and also between culture and innovation. However, the literature on the topic shows that the interrelation among the three constructs has not been modeled as yet. An indirect effect of culture on performance through innovation is predictable because – depending on the values that it encourages – culture may foster or limit an organization's innovation activity. Therefore, innovation has an impact on organizational performance. Along these lines, the fact that some types of culture may indirectly affect performance through innovation because they either foster or limit it may be argued.

The performance of organizations with a proactive culture that stimulates risk-taking activities, creativity, and tolerates error is superior to the performance in companies that do not. This is due to the fact that such organizations can develop more and better differentiated innovations more rapidly than their competitors. According to Simpson, Siguaw, and Enz (2006) an innovation-oriented focus, characteristically with an adhocracy culture may improve long-term business performance.

On the contrary, a hierarchy culture may have a negative effect on organizational results because values such as emphasis on rules and procedures that lead to conformity and lack of creativity, excessive control, and lack of autonomy, are not deemed favorable conditions for innovation. Furthermore, the lack of innovation will be responsible for a negative effect on performance. This leads us to propose another hypothesis:H3.1

Organizational culture indirectly affects performance through firm innovation. In particular, the adhocracy culture has a positive indirect effect on performance through firm innovation whereas the hierarchy culture has a negative indirect effect on performance through firm innovation.

MethodologyData collection and sample

The data for this study came from a more extensive research financed by the European Union (with FEDER funds). The population comprised Spanish organizations with more than fifteen employees located in southeast Spain. It was designed to cover a range of industries, excluding those in the agricultural sector. The final sample included 1600 companies.

Information was collected through a face-to-face interview with the firm CEOs, using a previously tested questionnaire. A total of 446 valid questionnaires were obtained, representing a response rate of 27.9%. Respondent and non-respondent companies were compared in terms of size and performance. No significant differences were found between those two categories, suggesting that there was no response bias.

MeasuresInnovation

According to Manu (1992), innovation deals not only with outputs (e.g. new products or processes) but also with inputs (e.g. R & D expenditure) and with timing (e.g. pioneers, quick seconds or late followers). In this line, 5-point scales were used for each type of innovation. They cover the number of new products/process/management systems introduced, the pioneer disposition to introduce new products/process/management systems, the clever response to new products/process/management systems introduced by others companies in same sector, the R&D efforts to develop new products/process/management systems and the efforts to develop new products/process/management systems in terms of hours/person, teams and training involved. Then, the scales were combined to measure innovation by calculating the mean of the 5-point scales (α=0.779).

Performance

Identifying an optimal measure for a firm's performance is a problem in itself, since it is difficult to obtain financial measures. According to Deninson and Mishra (2003), subjective measures of effectiveness are better suited for comparing a disparate set of firms than objective measures of effectiveness. That is why a 5-point Likert scale was used. The respondents were asked to discuss the evolution of the firm's performance over the past three years, in terms of twelve items taken from Quinn and Rohrbaugh (1983). Then, the scales were combined to measure performance (Cronbach α=0.873).

Organizational culture

The organizational culture measure employed is based on the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) developed by Cameron and Quinn (1999). In this research there were used four of the six key dimensions of organizational culture the OCAI proposes: dominant characteristics, management of employees, organization glue and criteria of success since authors did not have information about the other two dimensions: leadership style and strategic focus. The former is strongly related to the management of employee dimension and the latter is similar to the criteria of success dimension. Thus, our measure can be considered as valid even though those two dimensions were excluded. Other previous studies have also measured organizational culture using fewer dimensions than the OCAI model proposes (Deshpande et al., 1993; Lau & Ngo, 2004; Obenchain & Johnson, 2004). Following the OCAI methodology, 16 items were included in the questionnaire, organized in four parts (corresponding to the four dimensions used) with four descriptions in each part. The four descriptions matched the definitions of each of the four culture types in the model developed by Cameron and Quinn (1999): adhocracy, clan, market, and hierarchy. Respondents were asked to allocate a score, for a total of 100 points, among the four parts, according to how well the descriptions matched their organization.

Control variables

Four control variables frequently associated with innovation and performance were included in the analyses (Lau & Ngo, 2004; Lin, 2006). They were industry (0=manufacturing; 1=service), age (the number of years that the firm has been running), size (the number of employees) and strategy (the four types of strategy taken from the model by Miles and Snow (1978)).

Table 2 provides information regarding the variable mean values, standard deviations, and bivariate correlations.

Table 2.

Means, standard deviations and correlations among variables.

    Mean  Standard deviation  10  11  12 
Industry  0.56  0.49                       
Age  22.04  15.30  0.08*                     
Size  71.14  18,144  0.01  0.10**                   
Analyzer  0.44  0.49  0.03  −0.04  −0.03                 
Defensive  0.28  0.44  −0.07*  0.09*  0.08*  −0.56***               
Reactive  0.02  0.16  0.02  0.01  0.00  −0.15***  −0.10**             
Clan  2.13  0.74  −0.03  0.00  −0.11**  0.05  0.00  0.01           
Adhocracy  1.53  0.43  0.06  0.04  0.04  −0.02  −0.00  −0.05  −0.12***         
Market  1.46  0.46  −0.01  −0.12**  0.13***  0.01  −0.04  −0.00  −0.45***  −0.03       
10  Hierarchy  1.73  0.64  0.01  0.03  −0.02  0.05  −0.04  −0.00  −0.40***  −0.34***  0.00     
11  Innovation  3.40  0.62  0.00  0.06  0.09*  −0.05  0.02  −0.01  0.00  0.34***  0.00  −0.24***   
12  Performance  3.76  0.50  −0.04  −0.05  0.03  −0.01  0.02  −0.08  0.12**  0.21***  −0.12**  −0.23  0.53*** 
*

p<.1.

**

p<.05.

***

p<.01.

Statistical analysis

The hypotheses were tested using hierarchical regression analysis. To assess the indirect effects of culture on firm innovation, the methodology proposed by Baron and Kenny (1986) was chosen. According to that methodology, to establish mediation, it is necessary to test three regressions and meet the following conditions: first, the independent variable must affect the mediator in the first equation; second, the independent variable must affect the dependent variable in the second equation; and third, the mediator must affect the dependent variable in the third equation. If these conditions are all met with the predicted sign, then the effect of the independent variable on the dependent variable must be lower in the third equation than in the second. There is perfect mediation if the independent variable has no effect when the mediator is controlled (Baron & Kenny, 1986: 1177).

Results

Table 3 shows the results of testing Hypothesis 1. As may be appreciated in this table, when going from Model 1.0 (which only includes the control variables) to Model 1.1 (which includes the innovation variable), the increase in R2 is significant and β is significantly positive (β=0.541), which indicates that innovation has a significantly positive effect on results (β=0.541). This result provides support to confirm Hypothesis 1.

Table 3.

Results of hierarchical regression analysis for Hypothesis 1.

Variables  Y=Performance
  Model 1.0  Model 1.1 
Industry  −0.029  −0.033 
Age  −0.052  −0.074* 
Size  0.039  −0.007 
Analyzer  −0.008  0.028 
Defensive  0.013  0.031 
Reactive  −0.011  0.000 
Innovation    0.541** 
F  0.351  23.732** 
R2  −0.010  0.282 
ΔR2    0.289** 
*

p<.1.

**

p<.01. Elaboración propia.

Hypothesis 2 proposes that organizational culture affects firm innovation and that the sign will vary according to the type of culture. To test this hypothesis, the four types of organizational culture were independently entered into the equation (Models 2.1 through 2.4) after the control variables. Table 4 shows the results obtained. As predicted, the adhocracy culture has a positive effect on innovation and the hierarchy culture has a negative impact on firm innovation. Although no effect between the clan culture and firm innovation or the market culture and firm innovation was proposed, those relations were analyzed. As may be observed, no significant results were obtained, which is consistent with the reviewed literature on the topic.

Table 4.

Results of hierarchical regression analysis for Hypothesis 2.

Y=Innovation
Variables  Model 2.0  Model 2.1  Model 2.2  Model 2.3  Model 2.4 
Industry  0.06  0.06  −0.17  0.006  0.006 
Age  0.048  0.048  0.33  0.047  0.057 
Size  0.084*  0.084*  0.70  0.086*  0.081* 
Analyzer  −0.079  −0.079  −0.61  −0.079  −0.066 
Defensive  −0.031  −0.031  −0.16  −0.031  −0.032 
Reactive  −0.020  −0.020  −0.02  −0.020  −0.015 
Clan    0.000       
Adhocracy      0.345**     
Market        −0.009   
Hierarchy          −0.255** 
F  1.050  0.898  9.188**  0.903  5.204** 
R2  0.001  −0.002  0.118  −0.002  0.064 
ΔR2    0.000  0.118**  0.000  0.065** 
*

p<.1.

**

p<.01. Elaboración propia.

Table 5 presents the results for Hypothesis 3. As predicted, the adhocracy culture and the clan culture have a positive effect on performance and the hierarchy culture has a negative effect on performance. However, the market culture was expected to have a positive effect on performance but the effect obtained was negative. Thus, there is only partial support for confirming Hypothesis 3.

Table 5.

Results of hierarchical regression analysis for Hypothesis 3.

Variables  Y=Performance
  Model 3.0  Model 3.1  Model 3.2  Model 3.3  Model 3.4 
Industry  −0.029  −0.022  −0.041  −0.031  −0.025 
Age  −0.052  −0.053  −0.063  −0.070  −0.040 
Size  0.039  0.055  0.030  0.059  0.034 
Analyzer  −0.008  −0.016  0.003  −0.006  0.005 
Defensive  0.013  0.009  0.023  0.011  0.014 
Reactive  −0.011  −0.014  0.001  −0.010  −0.006 
Clan    0.123*       
Adhocracy      0.221**     
Market        −0.136**   
Hierarchy          −0.228** 
F  0.351  1.161  3.227  1.349  3.434 
R2  −0.010  0.003  0.037  0.006  0.040 
ΔR2    0.015*  0.048**  0.018**  0.052** 
*

p<.05.

**

p<.01. Elaboración propia.

Finally, Hypothesis 3.1 proposes that organizational culture has an indirect effect on performance through firm innovation. To test this hypothesis, the methodology by Baron and Kenny (1986) was chosen. The first condition implies that culture affects performance. This was proposed in Scenario 3 (Y=performance). The condition is true for the adhocracy culture and for the clan culture (a positive effect), as well as for the hierarchy culture (a negative effect). The second condition was that culture affects firm innovation. This relationship is shown in Scenario 2. The second condition is met for the adhocracy culture (a positive effect) and for the hierarchy culture (a negative effect).

To analyze whether Baron and Kenny's (1986) third and fourth conditions are met, it is necessary to examine the effects of the types of culture and of firm innovation on performance together. Since the two first conditions are only met for the adhocracy culture and for the hierarchy culture, the combined effect of those two types of culture is evaluated. Table 6 shows the results obtained. For the adhocracy culture, innovation affects performance, when the adhocracy culture is controlled. In addition, the effect of the adhocracy culture on performance disappears after firm innovation is controlled. For the hierarchy culture, innovation affects the dependent variable when the hierarchy culture is controlled; likewise the effect of the hierarchy culture on performance drops when firm innovation is controlled. Therefore, the third and fourth conditions are met. Those results enable ensuring that firm innovation mediates the positive effect of the adhocracy culture on performance and the negative effect of the hierarchy culture on performance.

Table 6.

Results of hierarchical regression analysis for Hypothesis3.1.

Variables  Y=Performance
  Model 4.0  Model 4.1  Model 4.2 
Industry  −0.029  −0.035  −0.031 
Age  −0.052  −0.075  −0.068 
Size  0.039  −0.007  −0.007 
Analyzer  −0.008  0.029  0.032 
Defensive  0.013  0.032  0.030 
Reactive  −0.011  0.002  0.001 
Adhocracy    0.035   
Hierarchy      −0.095 
Innovation    0.528*  0.516* 
F  0.351  20.820*  21.553* 
R2  −0.010  0.281*  0.288* 
ΔR2    0.290  0.297 
*

p<.01. Elaboración propia.

Discussion

As expected, the findings provide evidence for the relation between firm innovation and performance. However, the more interesting findings that this research offers refer to the relation between organizational culture and both firm innovation and performance.

Regarding the culture-innovation link, the results show that organizational culture is a key determinant for firm innovation and that it can actually foster it but that it can also act as a barrier against innovation. In particular, findings showed a positive influence of the adhocracy culture on firm innovation. As identified in the literature on the topic, certain traits such as creativity, freedom, and a risk-taking attitude associated with the adhocracy culture enhance innovation.

The negative effect of the hierarchy culture on innovation seen is also consistent with studies that have demonstrated that the hierarchy culture traits, such as centralized decision making and a high degree of formalization, are negatively associated with innovation.

No significant result regarding the clan culture or the market culture was found. Although some studies point out that the clan culture factors, such as teamwork, are determinant factors for innovation, they may possibly only affect innovation when other values related to external orientation are present. Something similar occurs regarding the market culture results. Although the customer orientation that characterizes the market culture (and also the adhocracy culture) has a positive effect on innovation, other traits, such as emphasis on mechanistic structure, excessive hierarchy, emphasis on details, and exerting too much pressure on the employees, may reduce the positive effect on innovation that its external focus has. Along those lines, Van De Ven, Polley, Garud, and Venkataraman (1999) indicate that a market orientation is not always sufficient and it needs to be accompanied by other conditions, such as creativity, a characteristic that is absent in the market culture.

With regards to the relation between organizational culture and performance, there is evidence that the adhocracy culture is also the culture with the highest positive effect on performance, and that the effect of the hierarchy culture is negative. The clan culture and the market culture that were found to have no effect on firm innovation do have an effect on performance. The clan culture is positively related to performance, although the effect is lower than the effect of the adhocracy culture. The market culture also has a significant effect on performance but with a negative signal.

Taking into account the findings for the four types of culture, the conclusion may be drawn that flexibility versus stability and control orientation is more important than external orientation versus internal orientation when it comes to performance. That is to say, flexibility is a must to improve performance. External orientation is better than internal orientation but it must be combined with flexibility to have a positive effect on performance. This idea is consistent with some previous researchers’ propositions that some characteristics of non-adaptive cultures are associated with low performance (Nadler, 1998).

Regarding the mediation role of firm innovation in the relation between culture and performance, it is possible to conclude that firm innovation mediates the relation of the adhocracy culture and of the hierarchy culture. In other words, the positive effect of the adhocracy culture occurs because that culture fosters innovation among the employees whereas the negative effect of the hierarchy culture occurs because that culture does not promote innovation.

For practitioners, the implications of the above results are clear. An organization that wishes to enhance innovation and performance should pay attention to its organizational culture as it can be a key enabler of both or a major barrier against both, depending on the values comprising the current organizational culture of the firm. In particular, the findings of this research show that the adhocracy culture fosters both innovation and performance. Some of the main values of this culture are creativity, a risk-taking attitude, freedom, and flexibility. Thus, companies must make efforts to develop a stable adhocracy culture. It is also important to highlight that this study shows that an external orientation or a flexibility orientation is not sufficient for the firm to enhance innovation; companies must focus on both. However, as flexibility is required to improve performance, top management should focus on enhancing it. In short, the findings of this research can guide managerial efforts to develop an organizational culture that fosters both innovation and performance.

Future research should delve in more depth into the relation between organizational culture and innovation. A suggestion could be taking into account the stage of the innovation process. As organizational traits facilitating the generation and implementation of innovation can vary (Damanpour & Wischnevsky, 2006), it would be interesting for future research to examine whether they require different types of organizational culture.

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Thesaurus of Psychology: Organizational culture (Organizational Climate PN 5181, SC 35710), Innovation (PN 825, SC 25499).

Corresponding author. (Julia C. Naranjo-Valencia jcnaranjov@unal.edu.co)
Copyright © 2015. Fundación Universitaria Konrad Lorenz