Academy of Strategic Management Journal (Print ISSN: 1544-1458; Online ISSN: 1939-6104)

Research Article: 2019 Vol: 18 Issue: 6

Factors of Innovative Behavior in Malaysia

Muhammed Soffiq Bin Saripin, Universiti Teknologi MARA

Erne Suzila Kassim, Universiti Teknologi MARA


The main objective of the study is to examine the determinants of innovative behaviour among government servants in Malaysia. Building from the transformation leadership model of inspirational leadership, intellectual stimulation and individualised consideration, and the importance of knowledge sharing and intrinsic motivation, a survey was conducted. The results of the SEM-PLS indicate knowledge sharing, intellectual stimulation and intrinsic motivation are significant determinants of innovative behaviour but leader's inspirational motivation and intellectual stimulation were not significant factors. The strongest linkage is between intrinsic motivation and innovative behaviour. The study is essential to spur greater innovativeness among government servants, and the findings could be used as a strategy to inculcate inter and intra-innovations as the public sector is the driving agent for achieving the national agenda.


Innovation in Public Sector, Factors Of Innovation Behavior, Transformational Leadership and Innovation Behavior, Knowledge Sharing, And Innovation Behavior.


In today’s digital era, innovation has become a new platform for individuals and organizations to be more creative and competitive (Saji & Nair, 2018). Innovation is even considered as a fascinating concept (Pollitt & Hupe, 2011). In the public sector, innovation is used to frame the necessary transformation to improve government effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy (Bekkers et al., 2011). Innovation is essential for stimulating service delivery, process development, regulation and policy implementation, which is fundamental for aligning with dynamic challenges of the global environment (Hughes et al., 2011). But, government servants are always faced with many complex resistance and barriers to becoming innovative (De Vries et al., 2016). Unwillingness to make changes is another hindrance (Albury & Mulgan, 2003). Besides, in some government agencies, innovation is hampered in some way. Therefore, it is a challenge to push the public-sector servants to make breakthroughs in creating innovation (Usman & Mat, 2017). In Malaysia, innovation in the public sector is one of the national agendas. To achieve its objective, the government has circulated its implementation to meet the concept of Fast, Accurate, Integrity - Productivity, Creativity and Innovation (CTI-PCI) as well as supporting the National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) and Value Innovation Principle (Value Innovation). As government servants are the engine of the national transformation and drivers of public sector innovation, yet there are issues about innovation in the sector, the study aims to examine how innovation behaviour could be encouraged. In addition, past studies have examined the role of transformational leadership (Schuckert et al., 2018; Ngibe & Lekhanya, 2019) and also knowledge sharing (Choi et al., 2016). However, understanding how they are associated in the public sector requires more attempts. Thus, the study aims to examine knowledge sharing, transformational leadership and intrinsic motivation in driving innovative behaviour among government servants in Malaysia.

Review of Literature

The government of Malaysia is very active in promoting public sector innovation with the Malaysia Administrative and Modernization and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) as the medium to guide and aid ministries and agencies to be more creative and innovative (Ramli et al., 2017). Similarly, innovation is crucial for the national transformation agenda (Akoum, 2016). Innovative behavior can be defined as the intentional generation, promotion, and realization of new ideas within a work role, workgroup, or organization (Janssen & Van Yperen, 2004). Nowadays, it has become one of the methods to measure employee’s performance, usually in developing countries. Innovative behavior is related to proactive acts such as taking charge, voice and problem prevention (Parker & Collins, 2010) and it could be sparked by idea generation, idea-finding, idea communication, start-up activities. Leaders can foster the behavior and public managers have the ability to lead to increased innovative behavior in a governmental setting (Zandberg & Morales, 2017). Based on past studies and theory of leadership (Choi et al., 2016; Schuckert et al., 2018), three factors have been identified to predict innovative behaviour among government servants in Malaysia, which are knowledge sharing, transformational leadership and intrinsic motivation. Knowledge sharing happens when employees tend to share any relevant information, ideas, recommendations, and expertise among themselves (Bartol & Srivastave, 2002) while at the same time involves some conscious and unconscious actions on the individual who possesses to share a knowledge (Ipe, 2003). Knowledge sharing creates significant effects on employees’ innovative behavior. Employees who share their knowledge are more likely to engage in the innovative behavior (Jaberi, 2016). Therefore, the following hypothesis is offered:

H1 There is a significant relationship between knowledge sharing and innovative behavior

Leadership in the public sector is very crucial. Transformational leadership is a theory which is commonly adopted in the public sector (Wart, 2003). It is a process that can change and transform employees through ethics, values, standards, short-range and long-range goals, vision and mission (Bass & Riggio, 2006) and measured as idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration. Inspirational motivation is the ability to articulate a clear vision to followers. Intellectual stimulation is the leader’s ability to promote intelligence, careful problem solving and rationality. Individualized consideration is the leader’s ability to give personal attention, coach the progress of their followers, treat each follower individually and advise the followers (Bass, 1990). Transformational leadership has a positive impact on innovative behavior (Choi et al., 2016). However, in many studies, the idealized influence correlation value is found to be low. Therefore, the following hypotheses are offered:

H2 There is a significant relationship between inspirational motivation and innovative behavior

H3 There is a significant relationship between intellectual stimulation and innovative behavior

H4 There is a significant relationship between individualized consideration and innovative behavior

Intrinsic motivation is described as engaging in an activity out of innermost interest, based on the enjoyment and satisfaction (Techatassanasoontorn & Tanvisuth, 2008). Employees are intrinsically motivated when they seek enjoyment, interest, the satisfaction of curiosity, self-expression or personal challenge in the work. Besides, employees with this trait are more willing to create a relation in innovative activities (Keijzers, 2010). Therefore, the following hypothesis is offered:

H5 There is a significant relationship between intrinsic motivation and innovative behavior

Research Method

The population of the study was the government servants in Malaysia. The sample size was determined by using the GPower calculation. Based on the effect size of 0.15, alpha level of 0.05 and five predictors, a total of 92 sample was suggested. However, taking the suggestions of Hair et al. (2014) that larger sample size improves precision and reliability of PLS-SEM results, data was obtained from 148 respondents. The sample was selected based on purposive sampling as to ensure the government servants fit with the profile of innovators. Therefore, one of the items asked in the survey was the number of innovation or participation in any innovation process. A survey was conducted to collect the data and emails were sent to invite the research participants. The item measurement was adopted from past studies; knowledge sharing (Van den Hooff & De Ridder (2004), inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and individualised consideration (Bass & Riggio, 2006), intrinsic motivation (Zhang & Bartol, 2010) and innovative behavior (Janssen & Van Yperen, 2004). Item modification was made to meet the context of the study, and validated by the field experts. Prior to the actual data collection, a pilot test was conducted and the results of the internal consistency score provide the evidences of the reliable concept measurement. The conceptual model was empirically analyzed using SmartPLS3. All constructs meet the minimum value of the threshold requirement of composite reliability (CR)> 0.7 and average variance extraction (AVE) are greater than the minimum value 0.500. Next, a discriminant validity procedure was achieved by assessing the cross-loading criterion and Fornell & Larcker’s (1981) criterion. Based on the results, there is a clear evidence of the discriminant validity establishment. The square-root of the AVEs of all latent variables which are shown in bold are higher than the correlations on other variables. Therefore, it is confirmed every construct is truly distinct from one another.

Results and Findings

The results of one-tailed path coefficients with significant value of p < 0.05 are shown in Table 1. It was found knowledge sharing, intellectual stimulation and intrinsic motivation are significantly related to government servant’s innovative behavior with (ß = 0.237, p<0.05; ß = -0.182, p<0.05 and ß = 0.675, p=0.000) respectively. However, it is noted the relationship between intellectual stimulation and innovative behavior is found to be negative. The value of coefficient of determination (R2) of the main effect model suggests the exogenous constructs explain 64.6% of the variances in innovative behavior. The effect sizes for H1, H3 and H5 are 0.08, 0.028 and 0.721. The predictive relevant of Q2 is 0.319. Based on the results, there are four main findings to be discussed. First, those who are willing to share knowledge are found to be more innovative, and this is consistent with Jabari (2016). This shows sharing what is known will create wider prospects to be more creative and innovative. Second, while past studies have indicated the importance of transformational leadership in promoting for innovative behavior (Schuckert et al., 2018), the results of the study are contradictory. Both inspirational motivation and individualized consideration do not determine for innovative behavior in the public sector. Additionally, while intellectual stimulation is significant, the relationship is inverse. It implies less intellectual stimulation is important to inculcate innovative behavior, and the government servants require differential tactics and influence from their leaders to make them truly innovative. Therefore, injecting a moderating variable for instance the innovative climate is suggested as a strategy for examining the interaction effect (Yu et al., 2018). Thirds, comparing all determinants, the influence of intrinsic motivation to innovative behavior is the strongest. The finding is consistent with Keijzers (2010). As not every single person possesses the innovation capability, champions or innovators are always shaped by the innate stimulus of personal satisfaction and self-determination. Devloo et al. (2015) suggest intrinsically motivated individuals are found to be more creative and innovative because such motivation increases their tendency to be curious, cognitively flexible and risk taking. Finally, to promote for a higher innovative behavior in the public sector, government agencies must create a working environment that allows for trust for greater knowledge sharing, and drive the psychological and cognitive ability of government servants by inculcating the spiritual motivations.

Table 1 Path Coefficient Assessment
Hypotheses Std Beta Std Error T Statistics P Values f2 Q2 Results
H1: Knowledge Sharing-> IB 0.237 0.079 3.006 0.001 0.080 0.319 **
H2: Inspirational Motivation -> IB -0.027 0.083 0.325 0.373 0.001 NS
H3: Intellectual Stimulation -> IB -0.182 0.077 2.344 0.010 0.028 **
H4: Individualised Consideration -> IB 0.124 0.094 1.317 0.094 0.013 NS
H5: Intrinsic Motivation -> IB 0.675 0.062 10.884 0.000 0.721 **


The study aims at examining the roles of knowledge sharing, transformation leadership measured as inspirational leadership, intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration, and intrinsic motivation is explaining for innovative behavior among government servants in the public sector. Since there are inconsistent findings of the role of transformational leadership, the study urges for future research to inject the appropriate moderating variables. Practically, the findings offer some insights in the development of higher innovation capability strategy, in which government agencies must ensure the working environment is more trustworthy and open to sharing of what is known to anyone. Additionally, the employees’ spiritual or the intrinsic motivation must be inculcated, intensified, continuously shaped and reshaped for a constant nurture of the innovative behavior.


We would like to acknowledge Faculty of Business and Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA for supporting the research work.


  1. Akoum, I. (2016). Research, development and innovation in Malaysia: Elements of an effective growth model. Asian Economic and Financial Review, 6(7), 390.
  2. Albury, D., & Mulgan, G. (2003). Innovation in the public sector. London Strategy Unit, Cabinet Office, United Kingdom.
  3. Bartol, K.M., & Srivastave, A. (2002). Encouraging knowledge sharing: The role of organizational reward systems. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 9, 64-76.
  4. Bass, B. (1990). From transactional to transformational leadership: Learning to share the. Organizational Dynamics.
  5. Bass, B.M., & Riggio, R.E. (2006). Transformational leadership. Psychology Press.
  6. Bekkers, V., Edelenbos, J., & Steijn, B. (2011). Innovation in the public sector. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  7. Choi, S.B., Kim, K., Ullah, S.E., & Kang, S.W. (2016). How transformational leadership facilitates innovative behavior of Korean workers: Examining mediating and moderating processes. Personnel Review, 45(3), 459-479.
  8. De Vries, H., Bekkers, V., & Tummers, L. (2016). Innovation in the public sector: A systematic review and future research agenda. Public Administration, 94(1), 146-166.
  9. Devloo, T., Anseel, F., De Beuckelaer, A., & Salanova, M. (2015). Keep the fire burning: Reciprocal gains of basic need satisfaction, intrinsic motivation and innovative work behaviour. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 24(4), 491-504.
  10. Fornell, C., & Larcker, D.F. (1981). Structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error: Algebra and statistics.
  11. Hair, J.F., Ringle, C.M., & Sarstedt, M. (2014). PLS-SEM: Indeed a silver bullet. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 19(2), 139-152.
  12. Hughes, A., Moore, K., & Kataria, N. (2011). Innovation in public sector organisations: A pilot survey for measuring innovation across the public sector. NESTA Index Report.
  13. Ipe, M. (2003). Knowledge sharing in organizations: A conceptual framework. Human Resource Development Review, 2(4), 337-359.
  14. Jaberi, E. (2016). The effect of knowledge sharing on innovative behavior among employee of Besat hospital in city of Hamedan. International Academic Journal of Accounting and Financial Management, 3(4), 41-47.
  15. Janssen, O., & Van Yperen, N.W. (2004). Employees' goal orientations, the quality of leader-member exchange, and the outcomes of job performance and job satisfaction. Academy of Management Journal, 47(3), 368-384.
  16. Keijzers, B. (2010). Employee motivation related to employee performance in the organization. Bachelor of Business Studies Thesis: Tilburg University.
  17. Ngibe, M., & Lekhanya, L. M. (2019). Critical Factors influencing innovative leadership in attaining business innovation: a case of manufacturing SMEs in KwaZulu-Natal. International Journal of Entrepreneurship.
  18. Parker, S.K., & Collins, C.G. (2010). Taking stock: Integrating and differentiating multiple proactive behaviors. Journal of Management, 36(3), 633-662.
  19. Pollitt, C.C., & Hupe, P.P. (2011). The role of magic concepts. Public Management Review: An international Journal of Research and Theory, 13(5), 641-658.
  20. Ramli, R.I., Hassan, N.A., Arifin, A.S., & Jasmi, A.N. (2017). Implementation of policy initiatives to foster public sector innovation in Malaysian: The need for measurement. Journal of Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, 3(1).
  21. Saji, B.S., & Nair, A.R. (2018). Effectiveness of innovation and entrepreneurship education in UAE higher education. Academy of Strategic Management Journal, 17(4).
  22. Schuckert, M., Kim, T.T., Paek, S., & Lee, G. (2018). Motivate to innovate: How authentic and transformational leaders influence employees’ psychological capital and service innovation behavior. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 30(2), 776-796.
  23. Techatassanasoontorn, A.A., & Tanvisuth, A. (2008). The integrated self-determination and self-efficacy theories of ICT training and use: the case of the socio-economically disadvantaged. GlobDev 2008, 19.
  24. Usman, M., & Mat, N. (2017). The emergence of innovation, knowledge sharing behavior, Islamic work ethic and entrepreneurial orientation: A conceptual framework for the public sector. International Business Management, 11(6), 1234-1239.
  25. Wart, M.V. (2003). Public Sector leadership theory: An assessment. Public Administration Review, 63(2), 214-228.
  26. Yu, M.C., Mai, Q., Tsai, S.B., & Dai, Y. (2018). An empirical study on the organizational trust, employee-organization relationship and innovative behavior from the integrated perspective of social exchange and organizational sustainability. Sustainability, 10(3), 864.
  27. Zandberg, T., & Morales, F.N. (2017). Public managers’ networking and innovative work behavior: The importance of career incentives. International Review of Administrative Sciences, 0020852317692138.
  28. Zhang, X., & Bartol, K.M. (2010). Linking empowering leadership and employee creativity: The influence of psychological empowerment, intrinsic motivation, and creative process engagement. Academy of Management Journal, 53(1), 107-128.
Get the App