Personality As A Determinant Of Innovative Behaviour In The Workplace

Project and Seminar Material for Psychology

Personality As A Determinant Of Innovative Behaviour In The Workplace


This dissertation explores Personality traits as a determinant of Innovative behaviour in the workplace. The relationship between Personality traits and Innovative behaviour in the workplace were examined.

A convenience sample of 200 participants was drawn for the study. The data was gathered with the aid of a standardized structured questionnaire, comprising of an innovative scale and a big five personality scale.

The results were correlated using Pearson product moment correlation. The results gathered stated that not all personality traits were positively correlated with innovative behaviour in the workplace. Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Openness to experience showed significant b relationships, while Neuroticism and Conscientiousness, did not show significant relationships.

The result of this research discussed the relationship between Personality traits and innovative behaviour in the workplace, and also the policy implications.

Chapter One

1.1 Introduction

The research work done on the characteristics and behaviours associated with innovative people in organisations is immense, both in magnitude and diversity. This has resulted into a lack of cohesive theoretical understanding of how individual creativity and innovative behaviours operate in organisations. Hence, the study of what motivates or enables individual innovative behaviour is crucial.

In recent years, a severe global financial crisis has led to economic downturn in most countries across the world. Consequently, it has become a great challenge for many organisations to remain profitable and to survive in their markets. Particularly, during times of operating in the shadow of a paralyzed international financial system, the crucial importance of organisations and their employees to stay innovative cannot be overemphasized.

Innovation by itself, cannot be described as a single process, rather, it can be described as a multifaceted process. From this perspective, individual innovation begins with problem recognition and the generation of ideas or solutions, either novel or adopted. Another key stage in this process, involves the innovative individual seeking sponsorship for ideas and attempting to build a coalition of supporters for it. The final stage of the innovative process involves completing the idea by producing a prototype or model of the innovation, which can now be felt, experienced, diffused, mass-produced, and turned into productive use or institutionalized.

1.2 Background to the Study

In an article, The Economist, Frymire 2006 argues that “the biggest challenge today is not finding or hiring cheap workers, but rather hiring individuals with the brainpower (both natural and trained) and especially the ability to think creatively.” The ability to continuously innovate and improve products, services and work processes is nowadays crucial for organisations (De Jong & Den Hartog, 2007). In the current economic climate, there is evidence to back the increasing importance of innovation. According to reports on the official Nesta webpage (, “During economic downturns innovation is the single most important condition for transforming the crisis into an opportunity.” Innovation is critical for organisational long-term prosperity, particularly in dynamic markets (Balkin et al, 2000). In view of today’s economic climate, increasing global competition, and rapidly changing organisations, an organisation’s ability to innovate is regarded as a key factor for success (Shipton et al, 2006).

Individual employees need to be willing and able to innovate if a continuous flow of innovation is to be realised (Janssen, 2000). Innovation and creativity has been used as synonyms by many scholars, while some were able to distinguish the two concepts. Mumford & Gustafson, (1988) said Creativity has to do with the production of novel and useful ideas and innovation has to do with the production or adoption of useful Ideas and idea implementation (Kanter, 1988; Van de Ven, 1986). Though creativity is often described as doing something for the first time anywhere or creating new knowledge, while innovation covers the adaptation of products or processes from outside an organisation, in practice idea generation is only one stage of the multistage process of innovation. Thus Scott & Bruce, (1994) viewed innovation as a multistage process, with different activities and different individual behaviours necessary at each stage.

It is very important to clearly define innovation and to distinguish it from related concepts such as creativity, entrepreneurship, adaptability, originality, productivity and novelty. In the past, several research papers did not give a clear differentiation between the constructs creativity and innovation, which has led to a misunderstanding as regards the antecedents and outcome of creativity and innovative behaviour in the organisation. In a bid to clear the air of doubt, Patterson (2004) argues that creativity and innovation are overlapping constructs, but the main distinction is with regard to novelty. Creativity is exclusively concerned with generating new and entirely original ideas. Innovation is a broader concept as it also encompasses the application of new ideas to produce something new and useful, usually in the context of groups, organisations, societies.

Innovation is often referred to as a process, because implementing new ideas necessarily involves influencing others, whereas, creativity could be achieved in isolation. Employee innovation goes beyond individual creativity as it also concerns the extent to which employees implement and sustain innovations.

In the Organisational psychology literature, West and Farr (1990) emphasised the positive nature of innovation “…the intentional introduction and application within a role, group or organisation of ideas, processes, products, or procedures, new to the relevant unit of adoption, designed to significantly benefit the individual, group, the organisation or wider society.” In 2003, the UK department of Trade and Industry adopted a more concise definition of innovation as “the successful exploitation of new ideas.”

Innovation theory has repeatedly stressed that innovation is broader than only creativity and also includes the implementation of ideas (King & Anderson, 2002). Thus, innovation does not only include idea generation, but also behaviours needed to implement ideas and achieve improvements that will enhance personal and or business performance. Recently, organisations are paying attention to their human resources to produce innovative behaviours and consequently innovations (Carmeli et al., 2006), because innovations are derived from the ideas that come from the individuals in the workplace. Firms depend on their employees with creative ideas and efforts (Soussa, 2011). Individual innovation behaviour in the workplace is considered to be the main pillars of high-performing organisations (Carmeli et al., 2006). Finding out motivators and enablers of individual innovation behaviour would be a great contribution towards understanding individual innovation behaviour and organisational innovation and success (Wu et al., 2011).

Researchers have worked on several factors that predict innovative behaviour, for example Climate (Abbey & Dickson, 1983), this represents signals individuals receive concerning organisational expectations for behaviour and potential outcomes of behaviour. A conducive psychological climate in an organisation that promotes innovative behaviour among employees (Scott & Bruce, 1994), Leadership was also found to be a predictor of innovative behaviour (Waldman & Bass, 1991, cited in Scott & Bruce 1994), the leadership style adopted by the manager goes a long way to how innovative the subordinates will be. Seer, (1989) in his study found that work-group can also be a predictor of innovative behaviour; group cohesion and communication were some of the variables that signalled work-group as a factor that promotes innovative behaviour. Problem-solving style of an individual was also found to be a determinant of innovative behaviour; this is the cognitive ability of individuals in an organization to solve issues that has to do with innovation (Kirton, 1976).

Since innovative behaviour is expected of employees, and a major factor that predicts employer’s delivery and performance in their personality, therefore it will be important to know whether certain personalities in an individual can predict innovative behaviour in the work place.

Personality has been known to play a crucial role in understanding human behaviour. The Five Factor Model (FFM) of personality has been an important mechanism to understand the structure of personality (Patterson et al., 2009). Five personality dimensions namely, Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to experience, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness, help to explain most of the meaningful variance in personality psychology with a clear measurement framework and are responsible for the resurgence of interest to personality in the field of work and organisational psychology.

These five factors have been identified across a number of cultures and radically different languages, providing further support for the existence of the five factor model and its universal application (McCrae & Costa, 1997). Apart from the American/English languages, the factor structure of the five factor model has been replicated in German, Dutch, Italian, Hungarian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Belgian, Israeli, Estonian, Finnish, Croatian, and Czech (McCrae & Costa, 1997).

Personality traits have been known to be related to workplace behaviours, attitudes, and performance (Bakker et al.,2002) Personality has been studied by many researchers to be the predictor of so many work factors, for instance Hlatywayo, Mhlanga &Zingwe (2013) found that neuroticism was positively and weakly correlated to job satisfaction, Hence low neuroticism is positively related to job satisfaction, and less likely to be distracted easily, which has less behavioural risks.

The focus of this work is on innovation. Innovation drives and sustains the success of organizational motives; it helps to continually make an organization relevant even in a competitive environment. Self-esteem and self-efficacy were also found to be related to job satisfaction (Cleare 2013). Other phenomena in work place where personality has been studied as a predictor includes job performance (Alharbi& Wan Khairuzzaman 2012) and organisational commitment (Hoffmann, Ineson& Stewart, 2008).

1.2.1. Classification Of Five Factor Model Of Personality Traits

The BIG FIVE personality traits are self-regulating personality factors that described five major personality dimensions that include Extraversion, Neuroticism, Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, and Openness to experience (Goldberg, 1992). Extraversion

Expressive, outgoing, companionable, chatty, and determined persons are called Extraverts (Barrick et al., 2001). Extraverts have a tendency a tendency to be spontaneous, communicative, energetic, positive, and enthusiastic (Goldberg, 1992). If compared with other five personality traits, extraverts are completely associated with emotional commitment (Erdheim, Wang &Zickar, 2006).

Extraverts are capable of practicing affirmative emotions (Costa & McCrae, 1992) which in turn leads to job gratification (Connolly &Viswesvaran, 2000). Extraverted individuals are emotionally firm and that is why they possess contented personality and this blissful personality is the key feature of contented life job satisfaction (Judge et al, 2002). Extraverts are also effective analysts of job performance for professions like administration, social relation and sales (Barrick et al., 2001). Neuroticism

Neuroticism signifies variances of individual suffering and is defined asemotionally secure and uneven (McCrae & John, 1992). Neurotics possess traits including, annoyed, stressed, sulky, unsociable, nervous, embarrassed, uncertain, doubtful, unconfident, fearful, and dejected (Judge & Bono, 2000).

As compared to other individuals, Neurotics experience more adverse feelings in life (Magnus et al., 1993). That is the reason they are found to be negatively related to job satisfaction (Judge et al., 2002). Meta-analysis by Meyer et al., (2002) showed that persistence commitment is negatively interrelated with complete performance and Neuroticism also negatively interrelated with professional performance (Tett& Burnett, 2003). Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness contains personality traits like diligent, attentive, vigilant, comprehensive, responsible,, systemized and determined (Barrick et al., 2001). High conscientiousness personalities are logical, reliable and risk averter (Goldberg, 1990). These persons are responsible, reliable, determined, cautious and thorough, who focus on success which is also very significant characteristic for performing work tasks (Barrick et al., 2001).

This is the reason Conscientiousness persons are best related with job satisfaction and job performance in all traits (Judge et al., 2002). Conscientious people form long-standing work exchange relations and search for atmosphere where they have better chances for achievement and success. (Raja et al., 2004). Erdheim et al., also confirmed a positive link between effective commitment and conscientiousness. Agreeableness

Agreeableness defines the features such as self-sacrifice, helpful, nurturance, gentle, and emotional support at one end of the dimension, and enmity, indifference to others and self-interest on the other end. (Digman, 1990). Agreeable consists of traits such as polite, flexible, naïve, helpful, supportive, merciful, kind, openminded and tend to be generous, calm, trusting, truthful and sincere (Judge & Bono, 2000).

According to Judge et al., (2002), between agreeableness and job performance, the correlation is very weak and also, the relationship between agreeableness and job satisfaction is also very weak. This facet of the big five model is related with normative commitments significantly (Erdehim et al., 2006). Openness to Experience

Openness to Experience is correlated to technical innovativeness, deviating approach, and political moderation (Judge et al., 2002). The social propensity generally related with openness to experience comprise of being creative, cultivated, curious, open-minded, intellectual having a need for diversity, aesthetic and sensitivity (Goldberg, 1990). Persons who are extraordinary in openness to experience have the propensity to better suite other dimensions (Costa & McCrae 1997).

Openness to experience represents the influence of openness directed towards affective responses such as subjective well-being (Judge et al., 2002). This may have accounted for the special reason why the openness to experience dimension is shown to have a weak relationship with job satisfaction (Judge et al., 2002). Other studies carried out by Judge & Bono (2002), found a positive relationship between the openness to experience dimension and job performance for “training proficiency criterion”, which seems to suggest that these individuals are innovative, caring and insightful.

According to Raja et al., (2004), openness to experience is quite ambiguous and debatable, and further research is required on this particular dimension compared to other big five personality traits. When done successfully, it can increase the impact of the openness to experience dimension to organisational performance (Raja et al., 2004).

1.3 Statement of Problem

In business today, firms must innovate on a continuous basis to stay competitive and to survive in the long run. Employees can innovate either because it is part of their job description or by expressing voluntary innovative behaviour (Dörner, 2012). Therefore, since innovation is expected from employees either as part of their job description or they do it voluntarily, it is important to know if the personality of these individuals will serve as a major factor that will trigger the ability to innovate new ideas, that will sustain the organization and keep the business running especially in a competitive environment. The personality traits to be considered during this study are Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Very little published research literature has been done in Nigeria on the relationship between innovative behaviour and its relationship with personality traits in the workplace. This study aims to fill the gap in knowledge by seeking to find out the relationship that exists between innovative behaviour and personality traits in the workplace.

1.4 Objectives of Study

The general objective of this study is to observe the relationship between personality traits and innovative behaviour in the workplace:

  1. To determine the relationship between extraversion and innovative behaviour.
  2. To investigate the correlation between agreeableness and innovative behaviour.
  3. To predict innovative behaviour from conscientiousness.
  4. To determine the relationship between neuroticism and innovative behaviour.
  5. To understand the relationship between openness and innovative behaviour.

1.5 Significance of Study

The study is expected to contribute to scientific knowledge and also provide practical ways of enhancing innovative behaviour using employees’ personality traits. This work is also expected to direct the organisation during recruitment process, so that they will be able to select individuals that possess the right personality traits that will promote innovation in the organisation. Lastly the significance of this study to the targeted population is to help them identify personality traits inherent in then that support innovation and be able to increase the exhibition of such traits.

1.6 Scope of the Study

The work examined prime factors that determine innovative behaviour in the workplace, which explored workers of all six APTECH offices in Lagos state.

1.7 Operational Definition of Variables of the Study

Innovative Behaviour

This can be defined as any behaviour exhibited by the employee of an organisation that does not only include idea generation, but also behaviours needed to implement ideas and achieve improvements that will enhance, successful business performances in an organisation.


This can be defined as the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character. It is an employee’s individual differences in characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling and behaving. And this is the individual’s score obtained from the BIG FIVE personality scale.


This can be defined as an employee’s distinguishing quality or characteristics, typically peculiar to one person.

Openness To Experience

This can be explained using the six facets of the trait, these are Fantasy (the tendency towards a vivid imagination and fantasy life), Aesthetics (the tendency to appreciate art, music, and poetry), Feelings (being receptive to inner emotional states and valuing emotional experience), Actions (the inclination to try new activities, visit new places, and try need food), Ideas (the tendency to be intellectually curious and open to new ideas) and Values (the readiness to re-examine traditional social, religious, and political values) and also the scores obtained from the individual’s openness to experience subscale of personality, is measured by the BIG FIVE personality scale.


This is defined as the employee’s trait of being thorough, careful or vigilant, it implies executing a task efficiently. It includes how efficient and organized an employee is, and the score obtained by the individuals on conscientiousness subscale of personality, is measured by the BIG FIVE personality scale.


This can be defined as traits that manifest in outgoing, talkative, energetic behaviours in an employee, and also the score is obtained from the individual, on the extraversion subscale of personality, as measured by the BIG FIVE personality scale.


Agreeableness refers to those traits that manifest in an employee’sbehaviour that is perceived as kind, sympathetic, cooperative, warm and considerate. The score obtained by the individual on the agreeableness subscale of personality, is measured by the BIG FIVE personality scale.


This can be defined as traits characterized by anxiety, fear, mood-swings, worry, envy, frustration, jealousy, and loneliness. The score obtained by the individual on neuroticism subscale of personality, is measured by the BIG FIVE personality scale.

Chapter Five

5.0. Discussion, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1. Discussion

Hypothesis one which stated that there will be a significant relation between extraversion and innovative behaviour was as supported. Extraversion was found to have a positive relationship with innovative behaviour. This was in line with Ukes, (2013) study conducted on innovative work behaviour: A case of tyre manufacture The researcher observed a positive relationship between innovative stimulating leadership and innovative work behaviour, however this present study also find a positive relationship between extraversion and innovative work behaviour, this implies that innovating stimulating leadership is not the only variable that can trigger innovative work behaviour.

The second hypothesis which stated that there will be a significant positive relationship between openness to experience and innovative behaviour was also supported. This result is an extension of Abbey & Dickson, (1983), work on conducive psychological climate and innovation behaviour, where they found that conducive psychological climate in an organisation encourages innovative work behaviour, where Abbey & Dickson(1983) is an external variable to the employee, the present study proof that an internal variable to the employee can also trigger innovative behaviour.

The third hypothesis which stated that there will be a significant relationship between Conscientiousness and innovative behaviour was also supported, his was in line with Hoffmann, Ineson, &Morag, (2010), personality as an indicator of organisational commitment, where organisation commitment was found to correlate with innovative behaviour

The fourth hypothesis which stated that there will be a negative significance relationship between Neuroticism and innovative behaviour was also supported This was in line with Hlatywayo, Mhlanga &Zingwe (2013), where they investigated if neuroticism is a determinant of job satisfaction among bank employees, and found that neuroticism was a negative prediction of job satisfaction.

The fifth hypothesis that stated that there will be a significant relationship between agreeableness and innovative behaviour was also confirmed by suggestion in the theory of planned behaviour which states that the intention to act serve as a positive predictor of behaviour. Since honest communication, altruism and cooperative behaviour are qualities of agreeableness Fishbein and Ajzen 1975 cited in Morris, et al, (2012)suggested that these qualities leads to an intention to act positively. Therefore, the outcome of this work is in line with the outcome of the theory of planned behaviour.

5.2 Conclusion

From the result obtained in the study, the reseacher came up with the following conclusions which answer all the research questions in the beginning of the study. It was found that personality trait variables had a relationship with innovative behaviour. Past studies have also revealed similar relationship from commitment and innovative behaviour, and many other variable and this variables also jointly they correlate with innovative behaviour.

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