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Innovative work behaviour: The influence of multicultural identity, openness to experience and cultural intelligence

This research aims to conceptualise a response to global trends. The workforce is becoming more diverse and multicultural. If an employee is not culturally competent, conflicts will happen. Cross-cultural misunderstandings will cost valuable time to resolve, which will result in lowered productivity. A fast-paced digital and technological workforce require constant innovation to survive. If an employee favours the status quo and does not implement new ideas, the organisation will fail to remain responsive to the demands of global consumers. This research study asserts that future successful employees will benefit from a multicultural identity because they possess a range of cognitive schemas, which allows them to think and express themselves from different perspectives. Multicultural individuals possess cultural intelligence, which allows them to collaborate sensitively and effectively with people from other ethnic backgrounds. Multicultural individuals are creative and proactive in implementing their ideas. Future successful employees will benefit from an openness to experience personality trait, which allows them to welcome new ways of conceptualising and doing things. Open-minded employees are likely to gain and share new knowledge from cross-cultural experiences. The five constructs that are asserted to be crucial for the future of work are: 1) Social desirability testing 2) Multicultural identity 3) Openness to experience personality trait 4) Cultural intelligence 5) Innovative work behaviour Drawing from anxiety and uncertainty management theory (AUM) and creative cognition approach, this study investigates the three constructs (multicultural identity, openness to experience, and cultural intelligence) on their contribution to innovative work behaviour. Students from the University of Waikato, New Zealand, participated in the research. This study selects participants on the basis that today’s students will be starting work in the next few years. These students will be the demographics of the future workforce. The decision to use students as population sample contrasts with previous research that favours participants who are presently working in organisations. The participants filled up an online questionnaire, which consists of four validated measurement scales. Distinct from other research of this nature is the inclusion of the Marlowe-Crowne 13 question social desirability scale. The aim is to reduce social desirability responding, increase the validity and robustness of the data set. Findings showed that respondents who self-report as multicultural and bicultural have significantly higher cultural intelligence and innovative work behaviour scores, as compared to respondents who self-report as monocultural. However, differences for openness to experience personality trait scores are not significant amongst these three groups. Findings showed that socially desirable responding affects scores on openness to experience personality trait, cultural intelligence, and innovative work behaviour. Openness to experience personality trait, cultural intelligence and innovative work behaviour positively correlate with one another. Cultural intelligence mediates between openness to experience and innovative work behaviour. Also, cultural intelligence mediates between multicultural identity and innovative work behaviour. This study also investigates the sub-facets that make up the overall openness to experience and cultural intelligence constructs and examine their relationship with innovative work behaviour. The ingenuity and curiosity sub-facets of openness to experience are essential predictors to innovative work behaviour. Also, the motivational and metacognitive sub-facets of cultural intelligence are significant predictors to innovative work behaviour. The three practical implications of this research study are as follows: 1) Human resource managers may benefit from hiring employees who are bicultural and multicultural because they can think using different cognitive schemas and see different perspectives. They are more likely to work well with people from other cultures and are more likely to be creative. Multicultural individuals are likely to minimise the occurrences of cross-cultural conflicts. These individuals are likely to facilitate knowledge sharing and boost innovation in the workplace. 2) Human resource managers may benefit from selecting staff based on their openness to experience, cultural intelligence, and innovative work behaviour scores. This study hypothesises that employees who score higher on openness to experience may be able to welcome and immerse themselves in multicultural experiences, which may allow them to become more culturally intelligent. Openness to experience is a stable personality trait and are less likely to change over time. Monocultural employees, who score higher on the openness to experience personality trait are more likely to benefit from exposure to different cultures and cultural intelligence training. Employees who are higher on cultural intelligence scores are more likely to work effectively with colleagues from other cultural backgrounds. They may be more adept at learning, sharing knowledge, adopting good work practices that are tried-and-tested in other countries. Employees who have higher innovative work behaviour scores may be more likely to exhibit behaviours in the workplace such as brainstorming and creating new products and process, which is likely to result in the innovative output of an organisation and give it a competitive advantage. 3) Human resource managers will benefit from using the Marlowe-Crowne Scale when screening prospective employees. Personality tests are used frequently in hiring processes, but they are susceptible to social desirability responding. The Marlowe-Crowne should not be used solely as a hiring tool, but prompt further questions during interviews or reference checks. The minimisation of social desirability responding is likely to improve the integrity of hiring processes, especially in organisations which have strong diversity and inclusion policies for staff to champion and be on board. The limitation of this research study is its subjective self-report nature and cross-sectional design. This study has made efforts to reduce social desirability bias through the Marlowe Crowne scale. Also, it attempts to reduce common method bias by using different Likert-scale ranges for responses. Existing criticism of the cultural intelligence construct is its lack of an objective measure. There is new research that investigates biological and physiological correlates of the openness to experience personality trait, such as scans of functional connectivity in the brain, and heart rate. For future research, this study proposes the exploration of objective biological and physiological measures and its relationship to cultural intelligence and innovation. This research study will contribute to cross-cultural, personality, diversity-inclusion, and innovation literature. There is existing literature that looks at the relationship between two constructs in-depth, but none as broad a scope as this current study, as it attempts to generalise a response to global trends. This study will provide the foundation for future exciting research.
Type of thesis
Lim, S. (2019). Innovative work behaviour: The influence of multicultural identity, openness to experience and cultural intelligence (Thesis, Master of Applied Psychology (MAppPsy)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12758
The University of Waikato
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