Assessment of innovation in Kenya's public sector organisations
Agolla, Joseph Evans
MetadataShow full item record
Innovation is known as the eventual application of new ideas. Of late, a number of indicators have been progressively developed to gauge the level of innovation activities of organisations. The Oslo Manual is an example. But little is known about public sector innovation nuances. Innovation is a critical tool for achieving multiple goals such as improved welfare, improved quality of life of citizens and addressing some of the global challenges that inflict severe catastrophes on many nations namely diseases, crimes, disasters, accidents, poverty, hunger, conflict, and inadequate food security amongst others. A number of studies have been carried out on the assessment of innovation in organisations, with the majority of such studies concentrating on the private sector with only a few on public sector innovation, which has led to a gap in the field. Assessment of innovation in the public sector is very important to policy makers and the government, for example in Kenya where the public sector plays a key role in the delivery of critical services, and the creation of employment opportunities to the ever-growing population. Therefore, the assessment of innovation in the public sector presents an opportunity to both public policy makers and the government alike to measure the “success” or “non-performance” of public sector organisations. Apart from that, innovation assessment provides a broad set of indicators that can shed light on innovation activities in public sector organisations and show how these can help government meet its mandate The purpose of the present research was first to explore the extent to which public sector organisations are innovative; second, to explore specific organisational drivers and barriers to innovation in public sector organisations; third, to find out how innovation can be assessed in public sector organisations; fourth, to explore the extent to which government is promoting innovation in the public sector organisations; fifth, to examine the specific factors that can be used by the public sector organisations to overcome barriers to innovation and to develop an innovation model that is applicable to public sector organisations in Kenya. The present research is based on a survey of three selected Kenyan public sector organisations (PSOs) that were purposively sampled. These PSOs were chosen due to their legislative mandate; that is to promote regional development, create employment, and eradicate poverty among the local population and the nation at large. In brief, these organisations presented an interesting avenue for the present study, since innovation is seen as both essential for economic growth and employment creation. The present study developed a survey instrument to collect empirical data from the participants drawn from the three PSOs. The instrument was first pre-tested using 50 public sector experts, whose opinions and views were later incorporated in the final instrument. The final instrument consisted 115 items, and was scaled on Likert 5 point scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). On the other hand, the qualitative data were collected using 16 middle managers drawn from the participants’ organisations. In order to achieve the objective of the qualitative data collection, a pre-determined questionnaire was designed to guide the Focus Group Discussions (FGD). Focus Group Discussions were conducted in two sessions with each session lasting 45 minutes. A voice recorder was utilised to record the discussions, and to allow the researcher to time the discussions with minimal disruptions. Quantitative data were analysed using both Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) using Analysis of Moments Structure (AMOS) version 16 integrated with SPSS version17, in order to obtain hypothesised relationships in the structural model. Regression analysis was performed in order to identify the specific factors that were considered important in innovation in the public sector. In addition, regression analysis was also used to confirm the results of the SEM. Last, the qualitative data obtained through FGDs with the managers were analysed along thematic lines in order to obtain the subtle issues that could not be captured through the questionnaire. In addition, the FGD results were very critical because it only involved the managers (key informants) whose opinions and views reinforced the quantitative results. These results from both the analyses were interpreted differently, and then jointly discussed to complement one another. To add to the current knowledge of assessment of innovation, drivers, barriers, strategies to overcome barriers, and innovation outcomes / indicators in the public sector organisations; three new measurement tools were developed from this research. The first is a scaled index of top leadership that takes account of key dimensions of drivers to innovation; the second is a scaled index of strategies to overcome barriers to innovation, which takes account of factors that can be used to overcome barriers to public sector innovation; the third is a scaled index of internal drivers that take into account factors such as organisational strategy, organisational culture, and suppliers. These three tools are important additions to the limited existing tools that are available to researchers seeking to understand and assess public sector innovation. Therefore, this study claims methodological contributions of these tools. The results of the present research indicate top management, leadership, technology, government policy, political support, entrepreneurship, networking, collaboration, and partnership with universities as notable drivers of innovation in the public sector. On the other hand, barriers to innovation in the public sector were a lack of clear innovation policy, absence of employees’ freedom of expression, budget constraint, political interference, top management, over-reliance on existing resources, and inadequate reward system, while strategies to overcome the barriers identified were organisational leadership, incentives to innovators, collaboration, networking, creation of departments to coordinate innovation, and mentoring innovators. The study also identified intellectual property, customer satisfaction, patent rights, and new products / new services as innovation indicators / outcomes. The present study developed a model that was tested and can be used by future researchers interested in understanding dynamics of innovation in the public sector. Furthermore, this study contributes to the theory and the body of knowledge of innovation in the public sector where little is known about innovation. The present study has implications for researchers, policy makers and practitioners interested in innovation in the public sector. For future researchers, the present study offers an empirically driven model of innovation in the public sector, which could further be replicated in other geographical settings to corroborate the results of this study. To the policy makers, the study offers policy issues that need to be taken into account in order to promote innovation in the public sector, and lastly for the practitioners, the study model presents the factors that public managers can apply in order to enhance innovation in Kenya’s PSOs. The present research provides a foundation to build on by other studies, specifically the assessment of innovation in the public sector organisations. The present study also suggests future research to validate the model and measurement tool that was developed.