Propensity of Innovation at Work


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Propensity of innovation at work

An ever-changing and transformative IT-driven economy continues toshape most processes within organizations. In this regards, PhilipsAsia has embarked on a research to identify staff behaviour andunderlying culture in the organization to help drive its agenda. Assuch, the organization needs to propose a psychological-based processto understand the behaviours of employees as well as cognition,personality, mood states, developmental factors, knowledge, andmotivation of employees as these traits act as the employee resourcesfor innovation. In fact, innovation has become an indispensablecomponent in all organizations as a long-term affluence especially indynamic markets and because of this essentiality it has become aforemost element of productivity performance. Goodwin (2009) definesinnovation as processes involved in designing, implementing, andsustaining new ideas. As such, the performances and traits ofemployees in firms are at the centre of structural innovation thus,the assessment of behaviourism and psychological perceptions involvedwithin the innovation processes.

LO 1: Different perceptions in occupational psychology

1.1: Major theoretical approaches

This part scrutinises the multi-level and dynamic connection betweenorganization (i.e. processes and employees) and innovation from thetheoretical approaches related to occupational or industrialpsychology. As such, the part will look at the relationship betweenPhilips Asia innovativeness and structural forms and relate them toemployee behaviour, personality, motivation, knowledge, andorganization. It will provide a review to theoretical approaches thatdefine pre-condition for innovation or organizational processes thatdefine employee behavioural tendencies and alignment to organizationprocesses.

Behaviourism theory

One of the most widely discussed theories in industrial psychology isthe theory of planned behaviour. This theory is closely associatedwith theories, which adopt cognitive approach to explaining anindividual’s attitude, actions and beliefs. This theory emergedfrom the theory of reasoned action, which postulated that anyintention of carrying out an action is the best predictor of anindividual’s behaviour. Camerer (2011) asserts that intention isbecause of a blend of attitudes towards a certain behaviour. Thetheory of planned behaviour is best used to predicting and analysingan individual’s behaviour in the organizational setting. Accordingto research, the theory of planned behaviour can predict 20-30% ofvariance in behaviour, which is because of intervention and intention(Morris, Marzano, Dandy &amp O’Brien, 2012). Over time,organizational psychologists have found a strong correlation betweenbehaviour and attitude, which are the two major components of thetheory. Generally, behavioural theorists believe that learning occursonly when there is an observable change in behaviour. This model isthe result of conditioning, whose basis is that rewarding a desirableresponse reinforces repeat of that same response in the future.

Diffusion of innovation

Developed by E.M Rogers in 1962, the diffusion of innovation theoryis one of the oldest theories in organizational psychology (Rogers,2010). This theory postulates that an idea gains momentum and spreadsthrough a given population with time. The result is that the peoplein that particular population adopt ideas and behaviours. This meansthat the people begin doing things differently than they previouslyand been doing. For instance, people may acquire and perform a newbehaviour, because of the diffusion of an idea or product. Inbusiness, Philips Asia may introduce a new product into the market.Over time, people will be using the product to do specific thingsthat it has been designed for. However, as the product spreadsthrough the population, some people may come up with other uses apartfrom those the product has been designed for. However, Morris etal (2012) assert that adoption of a new idea does not happensimultaneously in a social system. It is rather a process wherebysome people are more suitable to adopt the innovation then the restof the population. According to research, people who adopt innovationearly are characteristically different from those who adopt it later.This means that whenever a new innovation is being promoted into anew target population, it is very crucial to understand thecharacteristics of the target population. For this reason, fiveadoptive categories have been established to differentiate thegeneral population. These are innovators, early adopters, earlymajority, late majority and laggards. The graph below representsthese five stages.

Figure1: Five categories of innovators.

Cognitivist theory (Theory of reasoned action)

The theory of reasoned action was developed as an improvement of theinformation integration theory (Marandu, 2008). According topsychologists, reasoned action is purely concerned with behaviour. Itis therefore not modelled to predict attitudes, just like the theoryof planned behaviour. However, the reasoned action theoristsrecognize that there are certain factors that limit the influence ofattitude on individual behaviour. For instance, if an individual’sattitude demands of them to buy a new product, but they lack enoughfunds to do so, the lack of funds will hinder their attitude frompurchasing that product. This therefore implies that reasoned actionpredicts intention, which is a struggle between attitude and actualactions. According to Marandu (2008), reasoned action predicts thatbehavioural intent is caused by individual attitudes and subjectivenorms.

1.2 Contribution of scientific approaches

The major application of the behavioural science approach is welldemonstrated in the field of organizational development. This is anongoing and systematic process of applying workable organizationalchange. Additionally, the scientific approaches are considered to beapplied behavioural sciences that are used to study and manageorganizational change, as well as scientific study. They usecomponents of behavioural sciences in the field of sociology,psychology and psychological theories to implement employeedevelopment. Passer &amp Smith (2010) say that leading researchersuse the latest methods and technologies to exploring the complexitiesof human behaviour. These scientific methods cover the full spectrumof behaviour, beginning from the fundamental of brain processes tothe way people function in groups. For the purposes of this paper,qualitative and quantitative approaches to understanding workplacebehaviour are explored, and their strengths and limits explained.

1.3 Qualitative research, strengths and limitations

A qualitative report contains human observations (Willig, 2013(Leavy, 2014). The human resource department can spend time toobserve the workers and storing information regarding theirinnovative behaviour. This includes recording information about theobstacles that the workers are able to overcome every day and howthey approach challenges. According to psychologists, early approachto organizational psychology was concerned with quantitative methods(De Wolff, 2013). However, inclusion of qualitative methods ensuredthat individuals were studied at a personal level and the humanresource departments could better understand their workers’behaviours.

Qualitative approach has a number of benefits. First, this method isa valuable way to exploring phenomena in context. Instead of usinglarge surveys and statistical analysis, the method focuses onassessing a number of small cases, which increase reliability andaccuracy of information and data. This method also eliminatesgeneralization beyond the scope of the participants. According toWillig (2013), qualitative research is concerned with meaning, and inparticular how people interpret their surroundings. This scientificmethod has therefore demonstrated that it can be used to reflectinconsistencies and contradictions in assessing individuals atpersonal levels.

Quantitative research, strengths and limitations

Quantitative research methods employ mathematical modelling andstatistical estimation as means of testing theories and evaluatingrelationships amongst the set variables (Goodwin, 2009). In studyingworkplace behaviour, quantitative research begins with setting ofresearch questions and objectives. Modern quantitative psychologyregards the method as the primary research technique, and theresearch questions are adjusted to the methods. In studying workplacebehaviour, the researcher should distinguish betweenstructural–systemic which is based on Aristotelian ideology andassociative-quantitative, which is based on Cartesian-Human thinking(Goodwin, 2009). The former aims at understanding the structure thatdefines the workplace employee’s behaviour, while the latterfocuses on identification of cause of their behaviour. Quantitativemethodology is also related with mathematical psychology.

One of the strengths of quantitative research in studying workplacebehaviour is that it enables testing and validation of the theoriesthat have already been constructed, and can help top explain trendsin workplace behaviour. Given that testing hypothesis through themethod is structural, assumptions and misleading interpretation ofphenomena is avoided. The quantitative and numerical data that iscollected from the research can also be stored and be used in thefuture (Goodwin, 2009). However, the main limitation of the method instudying workplace behaviour is that the researcher may miss out aphenomenon that is occurring in the organization, because of thefocus on theory and hypothesis. Additionally, the theories that areused to carry out the research may not reflect the understandings ofindividuals in the workplace. Therefore, the knowledge gained fromthis research may be too abstract and general to individuals, henceleading to possible misinterpretation of characters and behaviours.

LO 2: Role of psychology in the valuation

2.1 Type of individual differences

For the purposes of this study, five personality types of innovativeindividuals are discussed. These are innovators, early adopters,early majority, late majority and laggards. Innovators have apersonality of eagerness to try out new ideas, to a point where theirengagement almost becomes an obsession. These individuals’ interestin new ideas distinguishes them from the rest of the population andis characterized by possession of financial resources and highintellect. The early adopters are more integrated to the local socialsystem than the innovators. For this reason, they are considered tobe localities. Individuals in this category have a high degree ofopinion and provide the most sought advice and information regardinginnovation, which are highly respected by their peers and gave areputation for success.

The individuals in the early majority category adopt new ideasbefore the average members of the population. They are veryinteractive, however, not to be found in leadership positions. Forthis reason, they play an important role in diffusion. They also taketime to deliberate before adopting new ideas, and readily follow theadopting innovations. On the other hand, the late majorities arequite sceptical, and adopt new ideas after the average population.The adoption of ideas by these individuals may be necessitated byeconomics and response to popular opinion. They somehow conservativeabout innovation and are reluctant to take up trends before amajority of the society does. Finally, the laggards are veryconservative and always the last to adopt innovation. Given that theyalmost have no idea about leadership, they are very isolated andfixed to the past. They are not only likely to question innovations,but also the innovators and the agents of change as well.

2.2 Usefulness of psychometric tools

Validity and reliability can be determined from interpretation ofscores from the psychometric instruments such as questionnaires andobservations. Parkinson (2010) says that in order to support thevalidity of a given psychometric tool, evidence has to be collectedfrom at least five sources. The first is the content of the material,which tells whether the given psychometric instrument’s itemscompletely represent the construct of the test. The validity is alsosupported by the response process, which is the relationship betweenthe intended construct and the thought processes if both the subjectsand observers of the test (Parkinson, 2010). The third factor is theinternal structuring of the tool, which is used to measure itsacceptability and structuring. The fourth factor is the relations ofthe tool to variables such as correlation with scores from otherinstruments that have been used in the similar context. Finally,investigating whether or not the instrument makes a difference in theconstruct determines its validity.

The reliability of psychometric tools is the measure of howconsistent that particular tool is over time, and on differentsubjects (Parkinson, 2010). In order to investigate the reliabilityof a given psychometric tool, the results from two different testsbut with different procedures must be measured. This gives what isknown as parallel-forms reliability. The second reliability test isinternal consistency reliability, which assesses items within a test.For instance, a personality test may have more than one questionasking about the same thing. A reliable psychometric tool wouldproduce the same results should the subject answer the two questionssimilarly. There are however minor discrepancies in the overallreliability of psychometric tools, such as the stability of themeasured psychological factors and the participant’s health.

2.3 Recommendations

Over the next 10 years, this paper recommends two types of measuresfor Philips Asia, which are decision–making measures and cognitiveability measures. The general justification of these two measures isthat they are the most applicable in the field of businessinnovation. Decision making measures can be divided into measures ofstyle, approach and competence (Appelt, Milch, Handgraaf &amp Weber,2011). According to psychologists, this measure assesses theindividual’s methods of decision-making and general thinking. Italso predicts the extent to which the individual uses strategy and,either rationally or intuitively. This measure assesses theindividual’s management of decision-making, including constructssuch as indecisiveness, conflict and regret.

Phillips Asia is a renowned innovative organization with a provenrecord of accomplishment, and would therefore need to maintain staffwith matching capabilities. Cognitive-ability-measures assess theindividual’s intelligence and capabilities. It can be divided intomeasures of global ability and specific ability (Appelt, et al,2011). Global ability is also known as general intelligence, andit assesses an individual’s fluid intelligence. The measures ofspecific abilities deal with skills such as comprehension andmathematical prowess. Specific abilities such as numeracy contributeto an individual’s decision making. Cognitive ability measurerelies on self-support and is not objective in terms of ability. Forthis reason, it is used to complement objective measures.


Appelt, K.C., Milch, K.F., Handgraaf, M.J.J. &amp Weber, E.U.W.(2011). The decision making individual differences inventory andguidelines for the study of individual differences in judgement anddecision-research. Judgment and Decision Making. 6(3):252-262.

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De Wolff, C. (2013). A handbook of work and organizationalpsychology: Volume 4: Organizational psychology. London, UK:Psychology Press.

Goodwin, C.J. (2009). Research in psychology: Methods and design.Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley &amp Sons.

Leavy, P. (2014). The Oxford handbook of qualitative research.Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Morris, J., Marzano, M., Dandy, N. &amp O’Brien, L. (2012).Theories and models of behaviour and behavioral change. Retrievedon 4 February 2015 from:$file/behaviour_review_theory.pdf

Parkinson, M. (2010). How to master psychometric tests: Expertadvice on test preparation with practice questions from leading testproviders. London, UK: Kogan Page Publishers.

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Rogers, E.M. (2010). Diffusion of innovations, 4thedition. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster Publishers.

Willig, C. (2013). Introducing qualitative research in psychology.New York, NY: McGrawHill Education.

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