Our Students in Action

Ernest Ng

Innovation and Creativity Across the Globe

The nation of Singapore differs greatly from Western societies in many cultural aspects. While Singapore is known for its rigorous laws and the government acknowledges that many of its citizens have a great fear of failing, which impedes creativity (Li & Karakowsky, 2002), Singapore has also been found to be the most forward-looking culture (Javidan 2007) and has the goal of being an innovation based society. Doctoral student Ernest Ng, working with Dr. Michelle Bligh, is seeking to identify both barriers and facilitators to innovation that lie specifically with Singapore’s history, traditions and culture.

Ernest will hold focus groups with managers in Singapore to discover what they identify as the barriers and facilitators of innovation at their organizations. From there he hopes to develop themes and ideas that will eventually lead to an indigenous measure of innovation in an organization. “Right now, we only know about the Western ideals behind innovation, but culture plays a big part in any person’s cognitive makeup.”

The importance of managers in this research lies in their role as decision makers and as facilitators of innovation. “The managers are the ones who will decide what ideas go in to produce new innovation, and which ones don’t.” It is possible that there are cultural elements that hinder the degree to which a manager can successfully produce innovation in an organization. After identifying both these obstacles and effective practices, Ernest hopes to come up with solutions that are grounded in the culture and that can be leveraged to improve overall creativity and innovation.