The role of error management culture for firm and individual innovativeness

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To innovate at work is risky as every new endeavour is also error-prone. Therefore, the way errors are managed in organisations may be related to organisations' innovativeness. We studied error management culture as one important and often overlooked organisational culture factor hypothesised to be related to organisational and individual innovativeness. Error management culture implies that a firm accepts that people make errors and uses “organizational practices related to communicating about errors, to sharing error knowledge, to helping in error situations, and to quickly detecting and handling errors” to deal with errors (Van Dyck, Frese, Baer, & Sonnentag, p. 1229). Our sample consists of 30 companies with N = 227 employees. To decrease the problem of common method variance, we split the samples within each company into two subsamples: one subsample was used for the measurement of error management culture and the other one for the measure of organisational innovativeness. A multilevel structural equation modelling (MSEM) analysis showed error management culture to be related to organisational and individual innovativeness. Organisational innovativeness was a mediator for the relationship between error management culture and individual innovativeness. A potential implication is that organisations wanting to increase their innovativeness may need to examine their error management culture.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Psychology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)428-453
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 01.07.2018

Bibliographical note

Address for correspondence: Dr Sebastian Fischer, Department of Management and Organisation, Leuphana, University of Lueneburg, Germany. Email: Thanks for partial support for writing this article by Singapore Ministry of Education Academic Research Fund Tier 1 (R-317-000-123-112) as well as by German Research Foundation (FR638/38-1 Learning from errors and error management in organizations: Conditions, processes, and effects).