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An empirical investigation into innovation drivers and barriers in public sector organisations

Joseph Evans Agolla (School of Management Sciences, North West University, Mafikeng, South Africa)
Jacobus Burger Van Lill (North-West University, Mafikeng Campus, Mafikeng, South Africa)

International Journal of Innovation Science

ISSN: 1757-2223

Article publication date: 5 December 2016




Innovations provide a vital stimulus for economic growth. Through innovations, public sector organisations (PSOs) need to grow the economy to provide for the needs of their citizens. The purpose of this study is to identify innovation drivers and barriers in PSOs in Kenya. The paper aims to contribute to the understanding of the antecedents of innovations and to offer insight to PSOs to foster such innovations.


This research was conducted in two PSOs in Kenya. The participants of the present study consisted of a sample of 186 managerial and non-managerial employees. Empirical data were analysed using descriptive statistics, factor analysis and multiple regression analysis.


First, the results indicate that drivers of innovation in PSOs are: leadership practices, social factors, technological factors and management practices. Second, the results reveal that poor management practices and over-reliance on existing resources, among others, are barriers to public sector innovation. Third, the study indicates that management practices and leadership practices are factors to consider in overcoming barriers.

Research limitations/implications

As the present study was conducted with a convenience sample of 186 respondents from 2 purposively selected PSOs in Kenya, the extent to which the results could be generalized may be in doubt. However, as the aim of the study was theory testing, the study makes a contribution in this regard rather than doing a representative survey.

Practical implications

The study offers a first-hand insight into public sector innovation from the perspective of a developing country, Kenya, an area that has been neglected by researchers. The present study has implications for theory, practice, research and policy development, mainly in Kenya, but also for comparable situations worldwide.


The present study represents a first attempt to investigate the drivers, barriers, overcoming barriers and outcomes to innovations in a single study of PSOs from a developing nation. The present study provokes both academics and policy makers to rethink approaches to nurture innovations in the public sector.



Agolla, J.E. and Van Lill, J.B. (2016), "An empirical investigation into innovation drivers and barriers in public sector organisations", International Journal of Innovation Science, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 404-422.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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