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Innovation or imitation? The role of organizational culture

Julia C. Naranjo‐Valencia (Facultad de Administración, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Manizales, Colombia)
Daniel Jiménez‐Jiménez (Departmento Organización de Empresas y Finanzas, Faculty Economía y Empresa, Universidad de Murcia, Campus de Espinardo, Espinardo (Murcia), Spain)
Raquel Sanz‐Valle (Departmento Organización de Empresas y Finanzas, Faculty Economía y Empresa, Universidad de Murcia, Campus de Espinardo, Espinardo (Murcia), Spain)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 8 February 2011




Innovation is crucial for attaining a competitive advantage for companies. Innovation, versus imitation, motivates companies to launch new products and become pioneers on markets. Many factors have been shown to be determinants for supporting an organizational innovative orientation. One of them is organizational culture. The objective of this paper is to analyze the organizational culture that fosters or inhibits organizational innovation and imitation strategy.


The paper uses a sample of 471 Spanish companies for examining the hypotheses. Using hierarchical multiple regression analysis, it relates the effect of organizational culture with an innovation strategy.


The results confirm the hypotheses. The paper finds that organizational culture is a clear determinant of innovation strategy. Moreover, adhocracy cultures foster innovation strategies and hierarchical cultures promote imitation cultures.

Research limitations/implications

The main limitations are that data in the study were collected from one source for the cross‐sectional design of this research.

Practical implications

Managers should pay more attention to their organization culture if they pursue innovation/imitation strategies. Moreover, depending on this orientation (to be the first company to introduce in new markets or develop new products for a market versus to follow a pioneer), companies should promote different values and norms in their organizations.


The main value of this paper is its analysis and testing of the relation of organizational culture and innovation orientation. The majority of the literature underlines the paper's seeking after organizational culture for innovation. However, this topic has not been studied in depth and requires attention to different organizational cultures and innovation orientations.



Naranjo‐Valencia, J.C., Jiménez‐Jiménez, D. and Sanz‐Valle, R. (2011), "Innovation or imitation? The role of organizational culture", Management Decision, Vol. 49 No. 1, pp. 55-72.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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