The influence of transformational leadership and diversity climate on using TRIZ to generate ideas: a case study from UAE companies
AlDhaheri, Abdulla Saeed Obaid Saeed
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The rapidly changing dynamics in global industry are forcing companies to continually improve methods for harnessing the creativity of their employees and to use that creativity to drive innovation. Frequently, projects to develop new products fail at the end of the development process or during commercialization. These failures often have their origin at the very beginning of the development process, during the pre-development phase called the Fuzzy Front End (FFE). To manage this phase, there is a need to focus on idea and concept generation, for instance by using new techniques like the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ). To improve the pre-development activities in the FFE phase, there is a further need to understand how TRIZ methods interact with transformational leadership behaviors and team make-up to improve the effectiveness of the FFE. Prior work has shown that transformational leadership has positive impacts on organizational outcomes, including improved performance of research and development (R&D) functions. This research applied TRIZ problem-solving in several semi-government companies in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and investigated the influence of leadership, diversity climate, knowledge management practices and organizational change variables, to measure participants' perception of being able to apply TRIZ in problem-solving. Measures of team performance during a two-day TRIZ session were also made using organization-specific challenges. A Structural Equation Model (SEM) was utilized to understand the relationships between the measured factors. Hypothesis analysis showed that transactional leadership did not support knowledge management practices while group and organizational diversity climates positively impacted knowledge management practices and particpants' perception on being able to apply TRIZ. Transformational leadership, knowledge management practices, and organizational change positively impact participants' perception of being able to apply TRIZ. The implications are as follows: the full range of the leadership model along with group and organizational diversity climate strongly effect the relationship between knowledge management practices and particpants' perception of being able to apply TRIZ. The presence of transformational leadership improved the particpants' perception of being able to apply TRIZ in problem-solving. Workers' knowledge converted information into a general solution based on TRIZ training outcomes.