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Publication date: 20 December 2017

Wenjing Li, Tahseen Ahmed Bhutto, Ali Reza Nasiri, Hamid Ali Shaikh and Fayaz Ali Samo

The purpose of this paper is to approach the issue of how organizational innovation can be accelerated with the support of leadership structures and the organizational climate…




The purpose of this paper is to approach the issue of how organizational innovation can be accelerated with the support of leadership structures and the organizational climate, specifically taking into account the top innovative universities of the world, which has not been found in previous empirical studies.


A survey, based on a deductive approach, is adopted since the questionnaire for organizational innovation is designed for organizations in order to measure organizational innovation, widely used by experienced employees from senior managers to all kind of employees (Caird et al., 2013) facilitating the European Commission work, whereas for transformational leadership, a Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (Bass and Avolio, 1994) is utilized. A complete online questionnaire was developed for collecting data, and the PLS-SEM statistical technique is used for analysis and results.


Top innovative universities of the world mostly have a transformational leadership style directly triggering organizational innovation which is consistent with the previous studies, while transactional leadership is having a positive relationship with organizational culture and innovation, but the results were statistically insignificant.

Research limitations/implications

Based on this research and other previous studies, it is suggested that universities across the world ought to imply transformational leadership traits and style which have fostered organizational innovation in the top-ranked innovative universities in developed nations, whereas more factors needed to be studied so that comprehensive guidelines should be provided to universities and research institutes where innovation is stagnant and passive.

Practical implications

The finding has practical implications, suggesting that universities and research institutes should draft and implement guidelines where leaders with certain traits and norms can play a role to nourish an environment where stakeholders think outside the box, with learning and knowledge creation, and proactive contribution beyond responsibilities, obligations, and compulsion.

Social implications

This study has suggested that less innovative universities should draft and design leadership and cultural enriching plans so that society, organizations, and commercial firms could foster innovation, ultimately benefiting general public and society.


Very few of the scholars have investigated from the perspective of innovative universities, where knowledge is created and flows into organizations, either governmental or private, and society in general. As a result, this study aims to investigate how leadership has impacted the culture of knowledge creation and innovativeness in the top 100 innovative universities. So, this is among rare studies where universities are suggested to adopt innovation supporting culture and leadership.


International Journal of Public Leadership, vol. 14 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2056-4929


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