Abridah, Alkddafi Ibrahim Altaher (2012) The Influence of National and Organisational Culture on Creativity in Libyan Work Environments. Doctoral thesis, The University of Huddersfield.

Culture is deemed to be a crucial basis for creativity in various respects. The aim of this study is to explore the relationships between different cultural dimensions, and the work environment for creativity. Within this area of study, little empirical research has been conducted that examines the roles that national and organisational cultures play in influencing a work environment that stimulates or impedes creativity. A research model has been developed that illustrates the possible relationships between the cultural dimensions and the creative work environment of an organisation. Essentially this model is to be utilised as a framework to examine the impact of cultural dimensions on the work environment for creativity. The method used to investigate this research question is a quantitative investigation of six companies that operate in the Libyan oil and gas sector: three Libyan companies, one Italian, one Spanish and one German. This was supplemented with qualitative investigations. This entailed gathering information through semi-structured interviews with Libyan employees from senior management to lower level employees, from different sectors including oil, food, banking services and communications. The aim was to identify the aspects of Libyan cultural dimensions that have an impact on creativity.

The study draws the following conclusions:

(1) Generally, the results of the study found a direct relationship between power distance and creativity. However, the relationship between power distance and creativity was found to be not mediated by power culture; that is, the correlation between power culture and creativity was weak. Similarly, the correlation between individualism and creativity was significant. In examining the relationship between uncertainty avoidance and creativity, it was found that uncertainty avoidance was not directly correlated with creativity, but that the relationship was mediated by role culture. In examining the relationship between femininity and creativity, it was found that there was no direct or indirect correlation between them.

(2) There are differences in countries’ status on national culture dimensions. Libya, on one hand, and Germany, Italy and Spain on the other, have significantly different organisational culture types, which have affected the work environment for creativity.

(3) A quick review of the principles of Libyan culture and the ways they conflict with creativity is in order. The first principle is the Family System, which blocks creativity through strict gender role expectations, rigid parent–child relationships and an overemphasis on obedience and loyalty. The second principle is the Education System, which inhibits creativity through rote learning, memory and conformity, and in which quantity is favoured over quality in the process of eradicating illiteracy; it has produced an unskilled workforce requiring extensive on-the-job training in order to be creative workers. The third principle is the Hierarchical Relationships, which decrease creativity through unequal relationships, rigid social structure, gender role expectations, and authoritarian relationships between people. The fourth principle is Self-Effacement which stifles creativity through suppression of emotion, the silence ethic, an extreme value of humility, and conformity; due to fear of losing face (dignity, prestige and self respect) among peers. Such self-effacement is linked to the Arabic cultural value of modest behaviour, a highly respected virtue in Libyan society.

(4) Trust was found to be the key intervening variable, the necessary foundation, from which a creative context could be built. The establishment of trust between different levels of management and between management and employees had the most significant effect on organisational creativity. The effect of lack of trust was shown by Libyan employees – no willingness to present their ideas, even though the work environment still had problems with obstructing contextual elements, such as poor communication, and lack of autonomy, as there was a lack of trust operating between different levels of management, and management and between employees. As a consequence of the lack of trust, employees felt that even though they were provided with a number of organisational stimulants, they were not able to be creative within their work environment.

Abridah_Final_Thesis_-_Dec_2012.pdf - Accepted Version
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