10.2.1 What Organisational Culture for Innovation Is?

Organisational culture is made up of the values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, attitudes and behaviours shared by the people in an organisation. Culture plays an important role in the company's success.

According to Schein1 organisational culture has 3 levels. 

Organisational culture is often compared with an iceberg because the most important part of it is not visible it lies under the surface (norms, unwritten rules, shared assumptions, taken for granted beliefs, values etc). But these elements primarily shape the individual and organisational behaviour and support or inhibit the innovation in the company (Fig. no. 1)

Now it is your turn!


The main characteristics of the culture supporting innovation are:

  • There is a common and shared vision of the future for all employees
  • Creativity and high performance are among the most important shared values
  • Monitoring changes in the markets and adapting to them is a high priority, as it ensures that business processes are aligned to satisfying customers’ needs
  • Employees are open and supportive to changes and the implementation of new ideas
  • Generation and implementation of new ideas, improvements in the work organisation and organisational processes are normal, day-to-day activities at all organisational levels
  • Management considers and treats human resources as a strategic resource of the company
  • Continuous development is a high priority both for the company and the employees
  • Human resource development expenses are considered investments which pay off in the medium and long term
  • There is a healthy level of competition between individuals and project teams, pushing creativity and performance to higher levels
  • There is a reasonable balance between recognising individual and team performance
  • Networking and sharing knowledge is a company-wide and continuous activity.

Please stop and think: What are the most important assumptions and values in your company? Classify them in two categories: those fostering innovation and those inhibiting it.

1 www.valuebasedmanagement.net viewed at 06.05.2008