Contributions Of Organizational Climate To Promote Innovation Construction Essay

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"The future of innovation demands that talented managers and researchers engage with the more fundamental economic and social challenges, rather than being confined to less pressing issues such as new product and service development.....Innovation is not fully exploited to tackle issues such as sustainability and development."

For this essay the above statement will be taken into account, and an attempt will be made to look at how the leadership and organisational climate of organisations working in the third sector promote innovation. This essay will concentrate on the issues of access to water across the African continent and how the United Nations, and Rotary International are responding to this problem.

The countries that will be examined as case studies will be Ethiopia and Kenya; however examples from other continents such as Asia and South America will also be used. The reason for the selection of Ethiopia and Kenya as the primary case studies due to the widespread water shortages in the region which has led to all major aid agencies estimating that 20 million people are in need of urgent food aid.

In order to be able to assess the respective contributions of both leadership and organisational climate in regards to promoting innovation within this context, we must first begin by defining exactly what leadership and organisational climate mean.

The definition of leadership that will be used as the basis of understanding is that put forward by Ken Ogbonnia, he writes:

"Effective leadership is the ability to successfully integrate and maximise available resources within the internal and external environments for the attainment of organisational or societal goals" [2]

It is harder to define organisational climate however for this essay the definition that will be used as the basis of understanding is that used by Charles W.L Hill and Gareth R. Jones in their book Strategic Management Theory: An Integrated Approach, they write:

"The specific collection of values and norms that are shared by people and groups in an organisation and that control the way they interact with each other and with stakeholders outside the organisation." [3]

Both leadership and organisational climate are extremely important in regards to what direction an organisation will move, especially in regards the organisations attitude towards tackling a problem such as access to water.

In order for a organisation to be able to create and maintain an innovative organisation there are certain characteristics that organisation must have as stated by Joe Tidd and John Bessant in their book Managing Innovation: Integrating Technological Market and Organizational Change 4th edition. These characteristics are seen through the organisations underlying culture, pattern of values and beliefs towards innovation.

1.2 Components of an Innovative Organisation

For an organisation to be innovate they must be able to learn and also adjust to the new way of doing things. Throughout history there have examples of organisations not being able responding to the new way of doing things whether it be through not wanting to learning or by simply not having the core capabilities/competencies to be able to learn.

When organisation have a strong set of core capabilities this can be both an advantage and disadvantage. There is a strong chance that a "this is how it is done round here" attitude can develop, which is extremely hostile to any new ideas or approaches that threaten the status quo.

A shared vision, good leadership and the will to innovate are important for any organisations who wish to be able to continually adapt to emerging threats and opportunities.

A shared vision for an organisation is more than publishing a list of goals and handing it out to its employees. For a shared vision to be successful it must have a certain inspirational quality which succeeds in bring all the organisations employees towards a common path of enthusiastically pursuing a common goal through collective action.

When organisations are faced with the challenge of adjusting to meeting the goals set by a new vision, the firm needs to have leadership. Leadership that is not only able to articulate but also inspire people to accepting the new vision. It is here the importance of leadership is most evident.

For innovations to be successful commitment from top management is needed, due to the risk and uncertainty often associated with them. Whilst top management commitment is extremely helpful in the support of innovation, there have been multiple examples where innovation has occurred in the face of opposition from senior management.

The structure of an organisation is extremely important in regards to supporting innovation, it involves putting in place the systems and structures needed for innovation to thrive.

The structure of an organisation is dependent on the tasks that the organisation undertakes, the more innovative and uncertain the tasks the more flexible the organisational structure. This form of structure is referred to as an 'organic' organisation; this means organisations can easily adapt to environmental change.

Key individuals play a vital role in the success of any organisation; their importance is most visible due to the long term investment involved with innovation. An example of an important position for any organisation to have a key individual is the area where the creativity and innovation takes place, as in this area motivation and inspiration is a must.

When the issues facing an organisation or innovation are non-technical for example the freeing up of resources, a key individual is needed to play the role of an organizational sponsor.

Within every organisation there are key individual's referred to as gatekeepers, for any innovation to be successful a good flow information and communication between all stakeholders is a must. The networking involved in linking all of these parts and processes together requires a key individual that has the necessary formal and informal links within the internal and external environments of the organisation.

High involvement innovation is based on the notion that analytical skills are not an inherent skill only available to an elite few but are instead possessed by everyone. Every member of the organisation is expected to and encouraged to put forward suggestions that helps with the process of innovation. Research into high involvement innovation have shown that there are different stages which organisations go through in regards to the development of not only people but also the systems needed.

Due to the to long-term nature involved with bringing innovations to fruition, effective team work is of paramount important in order to reduce the times required for projects to be completed.

The characteristics that are needed to promote effective team work as stated by Joe Tidd and John Bessant are as follows:

A clear, common and elevating goal

Results-driven structure

Competent team members

Unified Commitment

Collaborative climate

Standards of excellence

External support and recognition

Principled leadership

Appropriate use of the team

Participation in decision making

Team spirit

Embracing appropriate change [4]

In a knowledge based organisations creativity and thinking out of the box is a premium, for this reason it is in the best interests of organisations to be able create a creative climate where employees are able to bring forth new ideas.

How the organisation is structured is often the most apparent way of telling how innovation is treated within that organisation. For organisations interested in developing a creative climate they would need to develop an entire set of behaviours that would encourage creativity and innovation.

Through various research and observation in what leads to creative climate it is found that there are three main areas:

Individual's attitude

The groups behavioural dynamics

Support the organisation provides [5]

The climate factors that dictate how effective any innovations undertaken are:

Trust and openness

Challenge and involvement

Support and space for ideas

Conflict and debate

Risk taking

Freedom [6]

Through influencing the above factors organizations are able to put in place the building blocks for creating a creative climate. This coupled with amount of interaction an organisation has with it customers base and the networks the organisation builds up, directly affect how creative and innovative an organisation is and will be.

2. Access to Water in Africa

2.1 Water Stress and Scarcity

The vast majority of the water systems in Africa are extremely strained, none more so then the countries located in East Africa. The definition of water scarcity for this essay that will be used is that as used by hydrologists which states that:

"An annual renewable freshwater availability per person of less than 1,000m3 constitutes water scarcity" [7]

As the vast majority water systems in East Africa are not able to meet the needs of its users it is considered a stressed system. There are many factors that contribute to a water system becoming stressed. Maurice M. Ndege a lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Kenya states that the factors which lead to water stress are:

Population growth


Livestock watering



Poor land management

Pollution (both human and Industrial)

Deterioration of water quality [8]

The social and economic impacts that arise from lack of access to water are somewhat similar in most across the vast majority of rural Africa. Nowhere is this is this problem more visible than in Leh the Somali Region of Ethiopia. This part of Ethiopia is an extremely dry region with poor rainfall which has firsthand experience of the Horn of Africa Drought. It is estimated that up to 86% of the inhabitants are nomadic pastoralists who depend on the rains as due to their nomadic nature they travel to wherever they can find water for themselves and their animals. However due to the drought, climate change and excessive evaporation this has progressively become harder and harder. The few water points that are in the area have been drying up and the water volume of the local Dawa River has also reduced. This has had the impact of the local people being forced to dig deeper and deeper in order to be able to access water.

East Africa is the most diverse region of Africa, with peoples and tribes with distinct identities living side by side, for the vast majority of the time peacefully. However as the impacts of the Drought that continues to grip the Horn of Africa increases so to have the amount of armed clashes over water resources, with large amounts of people unfortunately having died.

2.2 Impacts of Water Scarcity towards development.

The United Nations in 2000 declared:

"We will spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty, to which more than a billion of them are currently subjected. We are committed to making the right to development a reality for everyone and to freeing the entire human race from want. UN A/Res/55/2, 2000." [9]

The above statement was in relation to the UN's millennium development goals, where the UN set itself eight goals so as to be able "making the right to development a reality" the goals are as follows:

Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

Achieve Universal Primary Education

Promote Gender equality and empower women

Reduce Child mortality

Improve maternal health

Combat HIV/AIDs, malaria and other diseases

Ensure environmental stability

Develop a partnership for development [10]

It can be argued that at the core of reaching each one of the goals water places an extremely important role.

The United Nations in conjunction with the World Water Development Report (WWDR) recently released the third UN World Water Development Report entitled Water in a Changing World. This report made a clear link between poverty and water; this is evident in the Leh, Somali Region of Ethiopia and indeed across rural Africa where water shortages have lead to the deaths of the livestock that the nomadic pastoralists rely on, thus making the people further into poverty.

In order to be able to achieve the goal of universal primary education, water places an extremely important role in achieving this goal. It has been found that across Africa the task of collecting water in water scarce areas falls to the females within the community. This had resulted in young girls either being denied the right to go to school or missing days of school in order to collect water. It should be noted that this problem is however not exclusive to Africa alone but it is played out across many developing nations the world over.

In order to be able to achieve the goal of promoting gender equality and empower women. As mentioned previous it has been seen that the task of collecting water often falls to the females within the community. This in turn has denied females from pursuing other economic activities or educational opportunities which in turn denies those living in poverty the chance of alleviating this poverty. Recent findings have shown that water projects carried out, where the local women are trained and made an integral part of the solution are more successful. This has been proved by the Red Cross in Zanzibar where they have drawn volunteers mainly females from the local communities and have trained them to encourage better hygiene practices in Africa.

In order to be able to reduce both the child and maternal mortality rate and also combat diseases such as HIV/AIDs, malaria and other diseases; water once again places an important role. The vast majority of public health issues facing Africa are water related, there are over fifty diseases related to poor water and sanitation that lead to morality.

In order to be able to ensure environmental sustainability the UN has committed itself to reducing the number of people by up to half who currently do not have access to safe and sustainable drinking water. This clear commitment in the millennium development goals shows the importance the UN has placed on water in regards to development.

The water situation in the majority of rural Africa most evident in East Africa is that is compounded by the fact that there is no central water infrastructure that is capable of co-ordinating water policy. This has meant that systems of information sharing between different institutions is virtually non-existent, this leaves open the possibility of initiatives and projects that have been proven to be unsuccessful being duplicated.

Both the UN and leading African diplomats have agreed that the issue of water is not simply an issue of stressed water systems but more a case of political will. This is most evident in the Human Development Report 2006; Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty and the global water crisis, published by the UNDP where a three step approach was suggested:

Legislate for water as a human right

- 20 litres per person per day

- poor should not have to pay for water

International donors need to do more

A need for a global action plan [12]

If as the UN seems to be suggesting that indeed the issue of water scarcity is more a political one as opposed to a physical lack of water regardless of what is done. Then this would mean that if organisations that have charged themselves with the task of tackling the looming water crisis can do so by putting in places practices to find innovative solutions to the problem as opposed to searching for a generic one size fits all solution.

3. United Nations & Rotary International

3.1 UN Water

The United Nations as an organisation was created in 1945 once World War II had finished, and currently has 192 member states the current Secretary-General of the UN is Ban Ki-moon. It was hoped at its conception that the UN would provide a platform for all nations on earth to be able to discuss and cooperate in issues ranging from international law and security to human rights and economic and social developmental issues.

The millennium development goals set by the UN made a clear commitment to resolving the issue of water and sanitation. In 2003 the UN High Level Committee on Programmes setup UN-water which would act as an inter-agency mechanism. UN Water is composed of over 26 UN organisations such as the UNDP, UNICEF and WHO just to mention a few and has partnerships with other large organisations such as WWF and World Water Council to mention a few.

The main faces at UN Water with who the running of it fall to are Pasquale Steduto who is the Chair of UN Water; Nikhil Chandavarkar is Secretary to UN Water; Johan Kuylenstierna is the Chief technical advisor to the chair; Fredrick Pischke is advisor to the Secretary and finally Nicoletta Forlano who is the communication advisor to UN Water.

It should be made clear that UN Water was established in order to better co-ordinate and form better links between different UN organisations working on the issue of water, so as projects and initiatives are not duplicated. For this reason UN Water has no implementing powers instead the activities and initiatives suggested by it are carried out by the most suitable of the 26 member organisations.

The senior management of the UN Water member organisations meet twice a year, so as to be able to discuss issues face to face; with the actual leadership of the UN Water being decided via election once every two years. The leadership of the organisation is selected from amongst the member organisations however the secretary position is a permanent one and is always selected from the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA).

The leadership and governance style of UN Water is an extremely light one, this is reflective of the fact that UN Water being nothing more than a coordination mechanism.

The shared vision of UN Water and its member organisation is seen within UN Water's objective and focus areas:

"UN Water was established to promote coherence and co-ordination in UN system initiatives that are related to UN Water's scope of work and contribute to the implementation of the agenda defined by the 2000 Millennium Declaration and the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development" [13]

Integrated water resources management

Drinking water, sanitation and health

Water scarcity


Transboundary water

Climate change and disaster risk management

Gender and water

Financing and valuation

Capacity building

Africa: a region for priority action [14]

Through the scope, objective and focus area it can be seen that is a clear shared vision and commitment to it by UN Water. The commitment by the members of UN Water is driven by the main aim of achieving the millennium development goal which is intended at alleviating the sufferings faced by people living in poverty.

The structure of UN Water is borne out of the fact that UN Water was established to better coordinate the multifaceted and multi-sectoral challenges in water and sanitation. It is believed that UN Water would add value to the UN's response to water and sanitation issues by allowing greater co-operation and information spread amongst the individual agencies already working on water and sanitation issues. This has led to the UN Water stating that it focuses on the following areas:

Providing Information: policy briefs and other communications materials for policymakers and managers who work directly with water issues, other decision makers that have an influence on how water is used, as well as the general public.

Building a Knowledge Base: on water issues through efficient monitoring and reporting systems and facilitating easy access to this knowledge through regular reports and the Internet.

Providing a Platform: for system wide discussions to identify challenges in global water management, analyse options for meeting these challenges and ensuring that reliable information and sound analysis informs the global policy debate on water.


The above coupled with the theme bases project work that is made up of the above mention focus areas [14], determines how UN Water functions. These theme based initiative once decided upon are then run by one of the member organisations using the other members as partners. The output for any initiatives that UN Water carries out must always have three main features:

Best Practice and Technical Advice

Knowledge and Monitoring

Policy Guidance and Institutions [16]

The UN Water currently has four programmes that it is responsible for running; however each programme is fully independent having its own work plan budget and executive which is charged with the running of each project. The programmes run are as follows:

The World Water Assessment Programme

The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme on Water Supply and Sanitation

UN Water Decade Programme on Capacity Development

The UN Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication [17]

The World Water Assessment Programme is responsible for combining all the information and data collected from all the UN Water member organisations and partners. The aim of this programme is to review and comment on countries abilities to be able to respond to water issues, with the aim to build and strengthen capacity, by informing these groups on which water management policy and strategies are effective and those which are not.

The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme on Water Supply and Sanitation is a self governing entity within UN Water which is tasked with monitoring progress towards meeting the millennium development goals for water and sanitation.

UN Water Decade Programme on Capacity Development looks at and assesses the capacity needs and gaps in the knowledge to strengthen capacity. It also builds, develops and also champions the execution of "Innovative capacity development methodologies". [18]

The UN Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication is responsible for taking all the informational output of the member organisations and partners and creating campaigns which illustrate "The benefits of sound water management for poverty reduction and advocates for actions to implement effective water policies". [19]

In order to be able to work on theme based projects UN Water has six different task forces setup. For each of these task forces a member organisation is selected as the co-ordinating organisation and then from that member organisation a co-ordinator is selected to run the task force. The task forces that are run under UN Water are:

Task force on Climate Change

Task force on Indicators, Monitoring and Reporting

Task Force on Gender and Water

Task Force on Transboundary Waters

Task Force on Country-level Co-ordination

Task Force on Sanitation [20]

The task force on climate change is the newest of the UN Water task forces, setup in response to the Nairobi Work Programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaption to climate change. The co-ordinating organisation for the task force is the World Meteorological Organisation with Dr. Avinash Tygai as the co-ordinator, who is also the director of the WMO's climate and Water Department. The task force is expected to look at the links between water and climate changed and all possible scenarios. The task force is also expected to boost co-operation and the sharing of information between member organisations.

The task force on indicators, monitoring and reporting is co-ordinated by the organisation World Water Assessment Programme with Olcay Ünver as co-ordinator, who is also a co-ordinator of the WWAP. The main aims of the task force are as below:

Develop a methodology for monitoring water sector progress and performance at regular intervals, including a set of measurable indicators that support both national decision makers and the international community.

Harmonising water sector monitoring efforts at the global level to improve the reporting of progress and performance.

Identifying priority actions in support of country-level monitoring [21]

The task force on gender and water is co-ordinated by the organisation UNDESA with the co-ordinating person with Kenza Kaouakib-Robinson. The main aim of the task force is to promote gender in the implementation and realisation of the millennium development goals. Some of the activities the task force is involved in are:

Incorporating gender perspective into the water and sanitation thematic clusters in the programme of work of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and organizing side events and updated 'briefing notes' on gender and water for the CSD and the Commission on the Status of Women;

Providing programme support for the gender component of the International Decade for Action, 'Water for Life', 2005-2015;

Utilizing existing literature and working with relevant organizations and civil society to develop demonstrations of good practice in securing sustainable and equitable access to water supply and sanitation, with a special emphasis on the needs of the poor and vulnerable groups;

Promoting the collection and use of data disaggregated by sex by the Joint Monitoring programme to contribute to gender sensitive policy formulation;

Making an effort to engage women ministers in a policy dialogue;

Testing relevant, available training, advocacy and educational materials in selected UN country offices, programmes and projects;

Utilizing existing literature and working with relevant organizations and civil society to develop demonstrations of good practice in securing sustainable and equitable access to water supply and sanitation, with a special emphasis on the needs of the poor and vulnerable groups;

Reviewing research on the economic value of water as an input to women's productive activities, and the effect of improved access to water on poverty alleviation among women in rural and urban areas; and

Encouraging UN water experts and gender specialists and networks to work together at the national level to improve programmes to achieve the MDGs and JPOI. [22]

The task force on transboundary waters is co-ordinated by UNECE and UNESCO with Francessca Bernardini. The task force objectives are stated as:

"To provide a platform to promote coherence and coordination of activities by UN-Water members and partners in the area of transboundary waters. It does this by facilitating a steady exchange of information, experiences and lessons learned and by promoting joint efforts. Improved networking will help identify gaps in programmes, maximize their effectiveness and avoid unnecessary duplication of effort. In this regard, the Task Force aims to act as a clearing-house for good practices for transboundary water cooperation and to provide a single entry point to the initiatives of UN-Water members." [23]

The task force on country-level co-ordination is co-ordinated by the UNDP and is co-ordinated by Joakim Harlin who is also senior water resources advisor with the UNDP. The task force was established in order to be able to look at how UN Water functions at the country level. The task force objectives are:

"To focuses on country-level coherence and coordination with an emphasis on both water resources management and provision of water supply and sanitation services. Its primary objective is to improve and scale up delivery of coordinated UN actions in the area of water so that they have a greater impact and contribute directly to the fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals and the World Summit on Sustainable Development targets." [24]

The task force on sanitation was established in 2007 and is co-ordinated by UNICEF and is co-ordinated by Clarissa Brocklehurst who is also Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene at UNICEF. The main aim behind the task force is to ensure that the UN Water is on track to be able to reach sanitation targets contained within the millennium development goals.

4. Conclusion

The issues posed by water scarcity cannot be underestimated, the economist as recently as the 24th of September in an article entitled "East Africa's Drought, A Catastrophe Looming" [25] makes reference to the catastrophic events currently unfolding in the Horn of Africa due to water scarcity.

The United Nations as the largest single organisations with over 192 member states has realised how important water is to not only as a basis to survival but also as a means towards poverty alleviation and elimination. For this reason the UN has had to re-organise the way in which the agencies that make it up are responding to this.

A clear decision was made in 2003 by the UN High Level Committee on Programmes that better organisational structure was needed if the UN was to be able to adequately respond to the water and sanitation issues facing the world.

Whilst the UN Water is simply an inter agency mechanism that does not have any physical implementation capacity, it should be noted that it has provided leadership in the field which has added value to the initiatives put forward by the UN.

The structure of UN Water has focused all the member agencies towards a shared vision, which in turn is providing a task force based solution finding strategy to the core issues behind water. This commitment to innovation coupled with the commitment from the top level of leadership to the millennium development goals which have water at its core is allowing a climate of creativity and innovation towards problem solving thrive.

The organisational structure of UN Water is setup so as to be able to allow information and knowledge to easily follow between the member agencies, this is facilitated by the way in which the task forces are established. By each task force being co-ordinated by the member agency that is most capable of leading and then putting in the position of leadership key individuals, who can and do act as gatekeepers this allows not only for effective team work but also a climate in which innovation can occur.

To conclude both leadership and organisational climate are extremely important in regards to promoting innovation. The importance of leadership and organisational climate is most visible by an organisation such as the UN established in 1945 creating UN Water so as to be able to provide leadership and an organisational context to be able to truly maximise its ability thus allowing it to fully maximise the potential of innovation for sustainable development.