Individual Innovativeness in Higher Education: Antecedents and Consequences

Tutkimustuotos: VäitöskirjaCollection of Articles


Today, intense competition among higher education institutions (HEIs) is ongoing to achieve cutting-edge publications, attain research funding, possess scientific patents, keep abreast of emerging technologies and adapt quickly to everyday changes. Innovativeness has become the buzzword in HEIs, especially in those seeking prosperity and advancement. Innovativeness here refers to the individual’s disposition to accept changes, try new experiences, deal with ambiguity, take risks and embrace novel ideas. In the digital age, staff members experience nonstop changes in their workplace environments and have no option but to welcome such changes with open arms. Otherwise, they will most likely get a warm job farewell party. Despite the obvious significance of individual innovativeness, there remains a paucity of evidence on the antecedents and consequences of individual innovativeness in higher education.

Two aims were established for this doctoral dissertation. For one, the dissertation sought to investigate the psychological and organisational factors contributing to individual innovativeness. For the other, the dissertation pursued the examination of the consequences of innovativeness and provided evidence on whether models studied in business and management fields are also valid for the higher education context.

This article-based dissertation consists of four publications. Each one forms a part of the whole project. Study I, which was dedicated to organisational factors, explored how staff members perceive the cultures and growth atmospheres and the relationship between them in their departments/schools. It also examined whether differences exist in cultural perceptions based on staff members’ demographic variables. Study II, which was dedicated to psychological factors, examined the roles of implicit theory and goal orientation as predictors of innovativeness. Study III investigated the interaction between psychological factors (implicit theory and goal orientation) and organisational culture in predicting innovativeness. Study IV had a twofold objective. It inspected the staff members’ usage of technological devices, Office 365 (O365) Cloud services and social media. It also set out to prove the power of individual innovativeness in predicting technology usage.

The research followed a cross-sectional correlational survey design. A total sample of 742 staff members working at Tampere University participated in the research. Two online self-reported questionnaires were administered during the 2015–2016 and 2016–2017 academic years. We analysed the data employing basic and advanced statistics, including structural equation modelling (SEM) and multilevel Bayesian path analysis.

The findings suggested that one’s goal orientations are most relevant in interpreting his/her innovativeness or willingness to change. More specifically, individuals adopting mastery goal orientations (focusing on learning and improving one’s knowledge and skills) are more likely to be innovators, whereas individuals adopting performance-avoidance goal orientations (avoiding looking incompetent and incapable relative to others) are less likely to be innovators. Furthermore, our findings indicated that the dominant perceived culture at Tampere HEIs is Clan culture, which is characterised by coherent relationships among staff members and considerable attention paid to their professional development and gratification. In addition, only the Clan and Adhocracy culture types were found to support professional growth. Contrary to previous studies, this dissertation showed that departmental culture had neither a direct effect on innovativeness nor a moderation effect on the relationships between psychological factors and innovativeness. In terms of consequences, the results showed that technology was satisfactorily used by the staff members, although their professional usage was less than their personal usage. Our findings also confirmed that innovativeness is a significant positive–albeit weak–predictor of staff members’ usage of devices, non-academic social media and institutional O365 services. Finally, the dissertation showed that academics who were earlier adopters of academic social media and commercial services were later adopters of institutional O365 services.

The findings have a number of important implications for theory and practice. Theoretically, this dissertation is one of the first attempts to integrate implicit theory and goal orientation, together with organisational culture, into one model predicting innovativeness. The model is also among the few that employ a multilevel modelling technique, which is more appropriate for this kind of data. It is worth noting that the results of the multilevel analysis emphasised the essential role of goal orientations, but not implicit theory, in predicting innovativeness. These results call researchers to revisit the mediation role of goal orientation between implicit theory and human attributes, taking into account the nested structure of their data. Moreover, this dissertation calls for a re-examination of the role of culture, taking the type of institution into account (academic vs business). Practically, the findings suggest several implications for HEI administrators and practitioners. First, the dissertation draws the attention of managers in that by allowing the staff flexibility, discretion and autonomy, this implicitly guarantees their professional growth.

Second, administrators and supervisors should stimulate staff members’ orientations towards mastery goals and inhibit their orientations towards performance-avoidance goals. For example, feedback and appraisal should be self-referenced rather than other-referenced based. The criterion for performance judgment should focus on efforts rather than ability. Third, HEIs should take wise and fast decisions about technology adoption because late adoption implicitly means that staff members will resort to other commercial alternatives.
KustantajaTampere University
ISBN (elektroninen)978-952-03-1539-9
ISBN (painettu)978-952-03-1538-2
TilaJulkaistu - 2020
OKM-julkaisutyyppiG5 Artikkeliväitöskirja


NimiTampere University Dissertations - Tampereen yliopiston väitöskirjat
ISSN (painettu)2489-9860
ISSN (elektroninen)2490-0028


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