نقش شخصیتی و نوآورانه کارآفرینان شرکت های کوچک و متوسط در پذیرش نوآوری
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|17945||2008||12 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Research Policy, Volume 37, Issue 9, October 2008, Pages 1579–1590
Entrepreneurs’ innovativeness and personality play a key role in the adoption of innovations in Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). Following two complementary approaches, this study conceptualizes innovativeness at two levels of abstraction: general innovativeness (GI), that is, the degree of openness to newness; and specific innovativeness (SI), that is, the predisposition to be among the firsts to adopt innovations in a specific domain. This study measures GI and SI on a sample of SME entrepreneurs by using two different scales that are based on inventories extensively used in this field (i.e., the KAI [Kirton, J.M., 1976. Adaptors and innovators: a description and measure. Journal of Applied Psychology 61 (5), 622–629; Kirton, J.M., 2003. Adaption–Innovation in the Context of Diversity and Change. Routledge, London] and DSI [Goldsmith, R.E., Hofacker, C.F., 1991. Measuring consumer innovativeness. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 19 (3), 209–222] inventories) and tests their effects on the entrepreneurs’ intention to adopt innovations. Secondly, this study relates entrepreneurs’ innovativeness (both GI and SI) to their basic personality traits as assessed through the Five-Factor Model of human personality (cf. [Digman, J.M., 1990. Personality structure: emergence of the five-factor model. Annual Review of Psychology 41 (1), 417–440; McCrae, R.R., John, O.P., 1992. An introduction to the five-factor model and its implications. Journal of Personality 60 (2), 1–26]). Finally, it compares the predictive power of both GI and SI on the entrepreneurs’ intention to adopt innovations against that of a cognitive model that represents the framework of reference in this field (i.e., the Theory of Planned Behavior [Ajzen, I., 1991. The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 50 (2), 179–211]). Results suggest a number of implications for entrepreneurs, managers, and policy makers.
Among the many drivers of innovation, researchers have paid a growing attention to the internal factors leading to innovative behaviors by individuals. These factors are associated with the attributes of the innovative individuals and can be viewed as the psychological underpinnings of the human capital existing in an organization, as it refers to the stock of experience, skills, knowledge accumulated by its members over time ( Burt, 1992; cf. Batjargal, 2007). These factors have recently been associated with different research areas such as the establishment and success of new ventures, industry–university relationships, the role of incubators, and the like. Reference has very often been made in the research literature to the role entrepreneurs play in stimulating innovation according to the traditional Schumpeter's (1965) approach. It postulates the existence of a strong link between innovation and entrepreneurial activity and portrays entrepreneurs as “innovator(s)” ( Schumpeter, 1965, p. 55), that is, as “catalysts of change who continuously do things that have not been done before and who do not fit established patterns” ( Schwartz and Malach-Pines, 2007, p. 2). The focus on entrepreneurs is particularly justified when investigating innovation in the context of Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), where the role of entrepreneurs in fostering innovation is especially important, since the innovation-related research has consistently shown that entrepreneurs are the main locus and driver of innovation. This approach closely matches the traditional analysis of human capital that has focused upon education and experience of individuals (productive skills, capabilities and knowledge, both technical and managerial), that is, all those aspects that may be the object of investment on the part of individuals and that enhance their skills, competences and knowledge. In general, researchers have taken a rather narrow view of the concept by focusing their attention on those elements that are the result of a conscious decision, although at times they have formally endorsed a broader approach. According to an extended view (e.g., Becker, 1992), elements as schooling, a computer training course, expenditures of medical care, and lectures on the virtues of punctuality and honesty also fall in the conceptual domain of human capital, because such elements raise earnings, improve health, or add to a person's good habits over much of his/her lifetime. Although research is increasingly taking into account the social underpinnings of human capital (as exemplified in the notion of social capital), it still eschews its psychological determinants and falls short of fully addressing all the aspects of human capital, thus leaving a gap that needs to be filled. We may get guidance on this analysis from the entrepreneurship literature that has tried to fill this gap by addressing the role of psychological variables in explaining entrepreneurship and in understanding entrepreneurs’ intention to adopt innovations (Buttner and Gryskiewicz, 1993, Foxall and Payne, 1989 and Zhao and Seibert, 2006). Indeed, the importance of psychological determinants in the decision to adopt an innovation is well documented in studies of innovation adoption, as highlighted by Rogers (2003) in his review of the innovation diffusion literature. Consistent with the broader approach suggested by Becker (1992), we maintain that these internal factors dealing with personality traits may be considered as the basic psychological underpinnings of human capital. Based on these research results, this article focuses on SME entrepreneurs’ psychological traits, as these internal factors potentially account for their individual and behavioral differences when facing innovations. Therefore, we aim to • Explore entrepreneurs’ psychological characters, by referring to their propensity to innovate in general or in their professional life and in the specific management domain; • Relate such a propensity to innovate to more basic and general psychological personality traits, by taking an integrated and broad approach to the structure of personality traits; • Set the analysis in a broader framework, by comparing the explanatory power of these both basic and specific psychological traits with the power provided by a cognitive standard approach. More specifically, our study has a threefold objective: (1) to assess the impact of entrepreneurs’ innovative propensity, both general and domain-specific (general innovativeness, GI, and domain-specific innovativeness, SI), on their intention to adopt innovations; (2) to investigate the relationship between entrepreneurs’ general and domain-specific innovativeness and their personality, in order to dress their profile in terms of a widely accepted personality theory that couches personality in terms of five basic factors (Five-Factor Model, or “Big Five” Theory of personality); (3) to compare the predictive power of such an explanation of the intention to adopt innovations against the standard cognitive model in this field, namely, Ajzen's (1991)Theory of Planned Behavior. According to this theory, the intention to adopt innovations is a conscious decision determined by the attitude towards such a behavior and the perception of the factors surrounding it (advantages and disadvantages deriving from the behavior, social pressure towards or against it, and ease or difficulty of engaging in that behavior). We try to verify whether GI and SI could be better predictors of behavioral intention than the variables that are considered by Ajzen (1991) in his theory. This paper is organized as follows. The first section will explore the entrepreneurs’ innovativeness construct in its two aspects: general and specific innovativeness, which refer to one's creative style of thinking and his/her speed in adopting innovations in a specific domain, respectively ( Kirton, 1976, Kirton, 2003 and Goldsmith and Hofacker, 1991). The second section will relate both these aspects of innovativeness to the Five-Factor Model of personality ( Digman, 1990 and McCrae and John, 1992). The third section will introduce the Theory of Planned Behavior ( Ajzen, 1991), as it is widely applied in the analysis of innovative behavior and served as competing model in our research. The fourth and fifth sections will illustrate the research methodology and the obtained results, respectively, while the final section will discuss results and their managerial and policy implications.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Our study demonstrates the importance of the psychological underpinnings of human capital in relation to innovation and, in particular, the key role of the personality-related variables, both general and specific (i.e., innovativeness in its twin aspects of GI and SI), and their influence on entrepreneurs’ intention to adopt innovations. We showed that entrepreneurs’ innovativeness is significantly related to their basic personality traits and entrepreneurs with different tendencies to innovate – in terms of both GI and SI – have noticeably different personality profiles. Our model (see Fig. 2) – wherein SI completely mediates the effect of GI on the behavioral intention – satisfactorily fitted the data and explained to a large extent the variation in such an intention. Moreover, the correlation analysis that was performed on entrepreneurs’ innovativeness data showed the existence of a significant and positive, even though weak, correlation between GI and SI. This finding is consistent with Goldsmith et al.'s (1995) study and contrasts with Foxall and Szmigin's (1999) in which no relationship between the two innovativeness constructs was found, even if, an important limitation of their study was its reliance on a small sample, as the same authors acknowledged. GI refers to the cognitive style of individuals and ignores any specific reference to a particular action. It is a very abstract concept that carries no or little direct influence on the behavioral intention. Conversely, SI, which is tightly related to what entrepreneurs consider as “innovation”, is a construct far closer to choice and decisions and, as a mediator, plays a pivotal role in the formation of SME entrepreneurs’ intentions. Yet, it is important to note that such a behavioral intention refers merely to what SME entrepreneurs perceive as “innovation”, that is, incremental improvements in existing organizational processes, products and structures, mainly related to manufacturing alone. Results emerged from the correlation analysis between entrepreneurs’ innovativeness and their own personality, as described through the Five-Factor Model, gave further support to previous research findings (e.g., Gelade, 2002 and Midgley and Dowling, 1978). More specifically, SME entrepreneurs with different tendencies to innovativeness – in terms of both GI and SI – were found to have different personality profiles. By considering both the significance level and the strength of the association between variables, it is possible to maintain that entrepreneurs with a creative cognitive style have a personality that is substantially characterized by lower levels of thoroughness and higher levels of open-mindedness, which favor the emergence of original ideas. Moreover, these entrepreneurs tend to be moderately more aversive, extrovert, and emotionally stable. An exception to this trend is represented by the link emerged between GI and Emotional stability. This result differs from Gelade's (2002) because he found in his work a negative correlation between GI and this personality trait. Yet, the statistical association between these two variables was really weak in both the present study and Gelade's and therefore this issue seems to be not crucial. The pattern of results that emerged from correlation analysis suggested that entrepreneurs with more creative cognitive styles are more oriented to personal growth rather than socialization processes. In Digman's (1997) terms, this means that their personalities are dominated by the so-called Metatrait Beta rather than the Metatrait Alpha. Ajzen's (1991) theory (Fig. 1) has been used in the present research as competing model with respect to the alternative one based on GI and SI for predicting the entrepreneurs’ intention to adopt innovations. Its implementation did not yield satisfactory results and it performed much poorer than our alternative model in explaining entrepreneurs’ intention. These results confirm findings emerged from the research stream on information technologies (Venkatesh et al., 2003 and Venkatesh and Davis, 2000) that suggests a high level of complexity in the cognitive and social mechanisms behind the decision-making processes underlying the use of information technologies. Such a complexity is likely to exist in the adoption processes of all kinds of innovations, because they are likely to be affected by sociological, economic, and psychological mechanisms that cannot be easily explained by conventional models such as Ajzen's (1991) theory (cf. Konana and Balasubramanian, 2005). Our results have several managerial and policy implications, as they showed that the adoption of innovations and therefore their diffusion among SMEs depend not only on the traditional external variables (such as the rate of technological development in the marketplace or the presence of incentives by the Government or local authorities), but also on the internal factors that are related to the psychological character of individual entrepreneurs. Both the subjective cognitive style and predisposition to changes are at the basis of human capital, though they have represented for a long time an underresearched area in the relevant literature. These internal factors could make the difference in the adoption of innovations in firms, while keeping the traditional constituents of human capital (such as knowledge and experience) unchanged. Entrepreneurs with a creative cognitive style and a good predisposition to changes, compared with those with an adaptive cognitive style and some reluctance to changes, are characterized by a higher ability to generate innovative ideas, a higher degree of tolerance to risk, and a higher level of flexibility. These internal factors favor an immediate adoption of innovations and, therefore, stimulate the diffusion of innovations among small firms. Entrepreneurs who are aware of being more innovative than other members of the same social system (e.g., other entrepreneurs) and count upon their innovativeness to face competition should re-organize their firms. They should try to improve flexibility in their organizations, for example, by recruiting appropriate human resources and, if necessary, managers who can support them when adopting innovations. This could be important to creating a proactive organization that is capable not only of overcoming difficulties, by proposing innovative solutions, but also of preventing them before their occurrences, thanks to qualities such as mind-openness, long-term vision, and intuition. To this end, SME entrepreneurs should evaluate their human resources from different perspectives rather than only on the basis of objective and formal criteria (such as the job description). They should consider the psychological characteristics of both actual and potential employees such as their creativity level in problem solving, their degree of flexibility, or their predisposition to challenge the status quo. It must be noted however that not all employees should have these characteristics for innovations to be successfully implemented within SMEs. Firms should be able not only to adopt creative solutions, but also to manage them and the related risk with proper attention (cf. Deschamps, 2003). For this reason, entrepreneurs should try to build their organizations on a right mix of creative and relatively more adaptive members, by creating the appropriate conditions for these two types of employees to profitably work together, despite their apparent incompatibility. To this end, entrepreneurs should be able to manage human resources with different cognitive styles and predispositions to changes by encouraging reciprocal trust, cooperation, and communication. This may be done, for example, by minimizing hierarchy in intra-organizational relationships and nurturing networking processes. Our results suggest a number of policy recommendations. Governments and local authorities that aim to encourage the adoption of innovations within SMEs should act not only on external factors, for example, by removing barriers (such as restricting laws and regulations) and introducing facilitators (such as financial incentives), but also on the human capital existing in these organizations and its psychological bases, by trying to boost the degree of innovativeness in both actual and potential entrepreneurs (such as graduate business students). Entrepreneurship and innovation diffusion represent key issues for many national and trans-national institutions, such as the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship in the United Kingdom ( National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship, 2006) and the European Commission in the European Union ( European Commission, 2006). Yet, today's programs continue to give relatively scarce attention to the psychological aspects of human capital examined in this study (i.e., innovativeness and personality). A recommendation for policy makers is that minimizing external barriers may be a necessary but not sufficient condition for innovation diffusion to occur among small firms. As it is showed in this study, creative thinking, open-mindedness, and innovativeness are psychological factors that significantly stimulate the adoption of innovations. These personality characteristics could be noticeably developed through appropriate tools, though they tend to be relatively stable over time. To do that, policy makers at the primary and secondary education levels should invest a greater amount of resources in developing programs centered on basic creativity training techniques (such as creative problem solving, lateral thinking, and the like). Policy makers at the highest education level (such as business schools and universities) should invest a greater amount of resources in improving entrepreneurship education, as well as in building profitable relationships with SMEs. These higher education institutions could develop connections with business organizations, for example, by establishing stat-up firms, cooperative research, informal information exchange and the like. University–industry collaborations are useful for both young potential entrepreneurs, because they could apply their innovativeness in real business settings, and national economies, because they could try to fill their innovation gap with more developed countries. This is particularly true for European countries that still lag behind the United States above all in those industries that are at the basis of the contemporary knowledge economy (such as electronics, information technologies, and software) (cf. Dosi et al., 2006). Moreover, business schools and universities should pay particular attention to talented students. They should develop specific programs for these subjects in order to stimulate their innovativeness, for example, by adopting an interdisciplinary and flexible approach and using high intellectual and creative educational technologies (such as role-playing simulation, virtual classrooms and the like). In conclusion, this study stresses how SME entrepreneurs’ innovativeness and their basic personality traits, as key psychological aspects of the human capital existing within their organizations, can stimulate the adoption of innovations. Policy makers are recommended to facilitate the development of these psychological factors within SMEs, to help entrepreneurs build organizations based on horizontal relationships, rather than on vertical hierarchies, that stimulate innovative behaviors, as well as to promote the entrepreneurship educational programs that foster creative thinking in business students and encourage them to undertake business ventures. An acceptance of these recommendations by the interested parties (such as managers, entrepreneurs, but also the Governments, local authorities, educational institutions, and other policy makers) is crucial to accelerate the diffusion of innovations in SMEs.