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This dissertation explores Personality traits as a determinant of Innovative behaviour in the workplace. The relationship between Personality traits and Innovative behaviour in the workplace were examined.

A convenience sample of 200 participants was drawn for the study. The data was gathered with the aid of a standardized structured questionnaire, comprising of an innovative scale and a big five personality scale.

The results were correlated using Pearson product moment correlation. The results gathered stated that not all personality traits were positively correlated with innovative behaviour in the workplace. Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Openness to experience showed significant b relationships, while Neuroticism and Conscientiousness, did not show significant relationships.

The result of this research discussed the relationship between Personality traits and innovative behaviour in the workplace, and also the policy implications.



The research work done on the characteristics and behaviours associated with innovative people in organisations is immense, both in magnitude and diversity. This has resulted into a lack of cohesive theoretical understanding of how individual creativity and innovative behaviours operate in organisations. Hence, the study of what motivates or enables individual innovative behaviour is crucial.

In recent years, a severe global financial crisis has led to economic downturn in most countries across the world. Consequently, it has become a great challenge for many organisations to remain profitable and to survive in their markets. Particularly, during times of operating in the shadow of a paralyzed international financial system, the crucial importance of organisations and their employees to stay innovative cannot be overemphasized.

Innovation by itself, cannot be described as a single process, rather, it can be described as a multifaceted process. From this perspective, individual innovation begins with problem recognition and the generation of ideas or solutions, either novel or adopted. Another key stage in this process, involves the innovative individual seeking sponsorship for ideas and attempting to build a coalition of supporters for it. The final stage of the innovative process involves completing the idea by producing a prototype or model of the innovation, which can now be felt, experienced, diffused, mass-produced, and turned into productive use or institutionalized.


In an article, The Economist, Frymire 2006 argues that “the biggest challenge today is not finding or hiring cheap workers, but rather hiring individuals with the brainpower (both natural and trained) and especially the ability to think creatively.” The ability to continuously innovate and improve products, services and work processes is nowadays crucial for organisations (De Jong & Den Hartog, 2007). In the current economic climate, there is evidence to back the increasing importance of innovation. According to reports on the official Nesta webpage (, “During economic downturns innovation is the single most important condition for transforming the crisis into an opportunity.” Innovation is critical for organisational long-term prosperity, particularly in dynamic markets (Balkin et al, 2000). In view of today’s economic climate, increasing global competition, and rapidly changing organisations, an organisation’s ability to innovate is regarded as a key factor for success (Shipton et al, 2006).

Individual employees need to be willing and able to innovate if a continuous flow of innovation is to be realised (Janssen, 2000). Innovation and creativity has been used as synonyms by many scholars, while some were able to distinguish the two concepts. Mumford & Gustafson, (1988) said Creativity has to do with the production of novel and useful ideas and innovation has to do with the production or adoption of useful Ideas and idea implementation (Kanter, 1988; Van de Ven, 1986). Though creativity is often described as doing something for the first time anywhere or creating new knowledge, while innovation covers the adaptation of products or processes from outside an organisation, in practice idea generation is only one stage of the multistage process of innovation. Thus Scott & Bruce, (1994) viewed innovation as a multistage process, with different activities and different individual behaviours necessary at each stage.

It is very important to clearly define innovation and to distinguish it from related concepts such as creativity, entrepreneurship, adaptability, originality, productivity and novelty. In the past, several research papers did not give a clear differentiation between the constructs creativity and innovation, which has led to a misunderstanding as regards the antecedents and outcome of creativity and innovative behaviour in the organisation. In a bid to clear the air of doubt, Patterson (2004) argues that creativity and innovation are overlapping constructs, but the main distinction is with regard to novelty. Creativity is exclusively concerned with generating new and entirely original ideas. Innovation is a broader concept as it also encompasses the application of new ideas to produce something new and useful, usually in the context of groups, organisations, societies.

Innovation is often referred to as a process, because implementing new ideas necessarily involves influencing others, whereas, creativity could be achieved in isolation. Employee innovation goes beyond individual creativity as it also concerns the extent to which employees implement and sustain innovations.

In the Organisational psychology literature, West and Farr (1990) emphasised the positive nature of innovation “…the intentional introduction and application within a role, group or organisation of ideas, processes, products, or procedures, new to the relevant unit of adoption, designed to significantly benefit the individual, group, the organisation or wider society.” In 2003, the UK department of Trade and Industry adopted a more concise definition of innovation as “the successful exploitation of new ideas.”

Innovation theory has repeatedly stressed that innovation is broader than only creativity and also includes the implementation of ideas (King & Anderson, 2002). Thus, innovation does not only include idea generation, but also behaviours needed to implement ideas and achieve improvements that will enhance personal and or business performance. Recently, organisations are paying attention to their human resources to produce innovative behaviours and consequently innovations (Carmeli et al., 2006), because innovations are derived from the ideas that come from the individuals in the workplace.  Firms depend on their employees with creative ideas and efforts (Soussa, 2011). Individual innovation behaviour in the workplace is considered to be the main pillars of high-performing organisations (Carmeli et al., 2006). Finding out motivators and enablers of individual innovation behaviour would be a great contribution towards understanding individual innovation behaviour and organisational innovation and success (Wu et al., 2011).

Researchers have worked on several factors that predict innovative behaviour, for example Climate (Abbey & Dickson, 1983), this represents signals individuals receive concerning organisational expectations for behaviour and potential outcomes of behaviour. A conducive psychological climate in an organisation that promotes innovative behaviour among employees (Scott & Bruce, 1994), Leadership was also found to be a predictor of innovative behaviour (Waldman & Bass, 1991, cited in Scott & Bruce 1994), the leadership style adopted by the manager goes a long way to how innovative the subordinates will be. Seer, (1989) in his study found that work-group can also be a predictor of innovative behaviour; group cohesion and communication were some of the variables that signalled work-group as a factor that promotes innovative behaviour. Problem-solving style of an individual was also found to be a determinant of innovative behaviour; this is the cognitive ability of individuals in an organization to solve issues that has to do with innovation (Kirton, 1976).

Since innovative behaviour is expected of employees, and a major factor that predicts employer’s delivery and performance in their personality, therefore it will be important to know whether certain personalities in an individual can predict innovative behaviour in the work place.

Personality has been known to play a crucial role in understanding human behaviour. The Five Factor Model (FFM) of personality has been an important mechanism to understand the structure of personality (Patterson et al., 2009). Five personality dimensions namely, Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to experience, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness, help to explain most of the meaningful variance in personality psychology with a clear measurement framework and are responsible for the resurgence of interest to personality in the field of work and organisational psychology.

These five factors have been identified across a number of cultures and radically different languages, providing further support for the existence of the five factor model and its universal application (McCrae & Costa, 1997). Apart from the American/English languages, the factor structure of the five factor model has been replicated in German, Dutch, Italian, Hungarian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Belgian, Israeli, Estonian, Finnish, Croatian, and Czech (McCrae & Costa, 1997).

Personality traits have been known to be related to workplace behaviours, attitudes, and performance (Bakker et al.,2002) Personality has been studied by many researchers to be the predictor of so many work factors, for instance Hlatywayo, Mhlanga &Zingwe (2013) found that neuroticism was positively and weakly correlated to job satisfaction, Hence low neuroticism is positively related to job satisfaction, and less likely to be distracted easily, which has less behavioural risks.

The focus of this work is on innovation. Innovation drives and sustains the success of organizational motives; it helps to continually make an organization relevant even in a competitive environment.  Self-esteem and self-efficacy were also found to be related to job satisfaction (Cleare 2013). Other phenomena in work place where personality has been studied as a predictor includes job performance (Alharbi& Wan Khairuzzaman 2012) and organisational commitment (Hoffmann, Ineson& Stewart, 2008).


The BIG FIVE personality traits are self-regulating personality factors that described five major personality dimensions that include Extraversion, Neuroticism, Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, and Openness to experience (Goldberg, 1992). Extraversion

Expressive, outgoing, companionable, chatty, and determined persons are called Extraverts (Barrick et al., 2001). Extraverts have a tendency a tendency to be spontaneous, communicative, energetic, positive, and enthusiastic (Goldberg, 1992). If compared with other five personality traits, extraverts are completely associated with emotional commitment (Erdheim, Wang &Zickar, 2006).

Extraverts are capable of practicing affirmative emotions (Costa & McCrae, 1992) which in turn leads to job gratification (Connolly &Viswesvaran, 2000). Extraverted individuals are emotionally firm and that is why they possess contented personality and this blissful personality is the key feature of contented life job satisfaction (Judge et al, 2002). Extraverts are also effective analysts of job performance for professions like administration, social relation and sales (Barrick et al., 2001). Neuroticism

Neuroticism signifies variances of individual suffering and is defined asemotionally secure and uneven (McCrae & John, 1992). Neurotics possess traits including, annoyed, stressed, sulky, unsociable, nervous, embarrassed, uncertain, doubtful, unconfident, fearful, and dejected (Judge & Bono, 2000).

As compared to other individuals, Neurotics experience more adverse feelings in life (Magnus et al., 1993). That is the reason they are found to be negatively related to job satisfaction (Judge et al., 2002). Meta-analysis by Meyer et al., (2002) showed that persistence commitment is negatively interrelated with complete performance and Neuroticism also negatively interrelated with professional performance (Tett& Burnett, 2003). Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness contains personality traits like diligent, attentive, vigilant, comprehensive, responsible,, systemized and determined (Barrick et al., 2001). High conscientiousness personalities are logical, reliable and risk averter (Goldberg, 1990). These persons are responsible, reliable, determined, cautious and thorough, who focus on success which is also very significant characteristic for performing work tasks (Barrick et al., 2001).

This is the reason Conscientiousness persons are best related with job satisfaction and job performance in all traits (Judge et al., 2002). Conscientious people form long-standing work exchange relations and search for atmosphere where they have better chances for achievement and success. (Raja et al., 2004). Erdheim et al., also confirmed a positive link between effective commitment and conscientiousness. Agreeableness

Agreeableness defines the features such as self-sacrifice, helpful, nurturance, gentle, and emotional support at one end of the dimension, and enmity, indifference to others and self-interest on the other end. (Digman, 1990). Agreeable consists of traits such as polite, flexible, naïve, helpful, supportive, merciful, kind, openminded and tend to be generous, calm, trusting, truthful and sincere (Judge & Bono, 2000).

According to Judge et al., (2002), between agreeableness and job performance, the correlation is very weak and also, the relationship between agreeableness and job satisfaction is also very weak. This facet of the big five model is related with normative commitments significantly (Erdehim et al., 2006). Openness to Experience

Openness to Experience is correlated to technical innovativeness, deviating approach, and political moderation (Judge et al., 2002). The social propensity generally related with openness to experience comprise of being creative, cultivated, curious, open-minded, intellectual having a need for diversity, aesthetic and sensitivity (Goldberg, 1990). Persons who are extraordinary in openness to experience have the propensity to better suite other dimensions (Costa & McCrae 1997).

Openness to experience represents the influence of openness directed towards affective responses such as subjective well-being (Judge et al., 2002). This may have accounted for the special reason why the openness to experience dimension is shown to have a weak relationship with job satisfaction (Judge et al., 2002). Other studies carried out by Judge & Bono (2002), found a positive relationship between the openness to experience dimension and job performance for “training proficiency criterion”, which seems to suggest that these individuals are innovative, caring and insightful.

According to Raja et al., (2004), openness to experience is quite ambiguous and debatable, and further research is required on this particular dimension compared to other big five personality traits. When done successfully, it can increase the impact of the openness to experience dimension to organisational performance (Raja et al., 2004).


In business today, firms must innovate on a continuous basis to stay competitive and to survive in the long run. Employees can innovate either because it is part of their job description or by expressing voluntary innovative behaviour (Dörner, 2012). Therefore, since innovation is expected from employees either as part of their job description or they do it voluntarily, it is important to know if the personality of these individuals will serve as a major factor that will trigger the ability to innovate new ideas, that will sustain the organization and keep the business running especially in a competitive environment. The personality traits to be considered during this study are Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Very little published research literature has been done in Nigeria on the relationship between innovative behaviour and its relationship with personality traits in the workplace. This study aims to fill the gap in knowledge by seeking to find out the relationship that exists between innovative behaviour and personality traits in the workplace.


The general objective of this study is to observe the relationship between personality traits and innovative behaviour in the workplace:

(1) To determine the relationship between extraversion and innovative behaviour.

(2) To investigate the correlation between agreeableness and innovative behaviour.

(3) To predict innovative behaviour from conscientiousness.

(4) To determine the relationship between neuroticism and innovative behaviour.

(5) To understand the relationship between openness and innovative behaviour.


The study is expected to contribute to scientific knowledge and also provide practical ways of enhancing innovative behaviour using employees’ personality traits. This work is also expected to direct the organisation during recruitment process, so that they will be able to select individuals that possess the right personality traits that will promote innovation in the organisation. Lastly the significance of this study to the targeted population is to help them identify personality traits inherent in then that support innovation and be able to increase the exhibition of such traits.


The work examined prime factors that determine innovative behaviour in the workplace, which explored workers of all six APTECH offices in Lagos state.



This can be defined as any behaviour exhibited by the employee of an organisation that does not only include idea generation, but also behaviours needed to implement ideas and achieve improvements that will enhance, successful business performances in an organisation.


This can be defined as the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character. It is an employee’s individual differences in characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling and behaving. And this is the individual’s score obtained  from the BIG FIVE personality scale.


This can be defined as an employee’s distinguishing quality or characteristics, typically peculiar to one person.


This can be explained using the six facets of the trait, these are Fantasy (the tendency towards a vivid imagination and fantasy life), Aesthetics (the tendency to appreciate art, music, and poetry), Feelings (being receptive to inner emotional states and valuing emotional experience), Actions (the inclination to try  new activities, visit new places, and try need food), Ideas (the tendency to be intellectually curious and open to new ideas) and Values (the readiness to re-examine traditional social, religious, and political values) and also the scores obtained from the individual’s openness to experience subscale of personality, is measured by the BIG FIVE personality scale.


This is defined as the employee’s trait of being thorough, careful or vigilant, it implies executing a task efficiently. It includes how efficient and organized an employee is, and the score obtained by the individuals on conscientiousness subscale of personality, is measured by the BIG FIVE personality scale.


This can be defined as traits that manifest in outgoing, talkative, energetic behaviours in an employee, and also the score is obtained from the individual, on the extraversion subscale of personality, as measured by the BIG FIVE personality scale.


Agreeableness refers to those traits that manifest in an employee’sbehaviour that is perceived as kind, sympathetic, cooperative, warm and considerate. The score obtained by the individual on the agreeableness subscale of personality, is measured by the BIG FIVE personality scale.


This can be defined as traits characterized by anxiety, fear, mood-swings, worry, envy, frustration, jealousy, and loneliness. The score obtained by the individual on neuroticism subscale of personality, is measured by the BIG FIVE personality scale.


The personality traits that this study sets out to test has been correlated with other dependent variables in several researches, in a study carried out by Hlatywayo, Mhlanga &Zingwe (2013), where they investigated if neuroticism was a determinant of job satisfaction among bank employees. They used 126 members of staff of a bank comprising of male and female, permanent and contract staff. Using SAS 9.1, Pearson’s correlation coefficient, ANOVA and Waller-Duncan K-ratio T test and T test. They found that employees with low level of neuroticism experience higher level of job satisfaction. Hlatywayo et al concluded that the banking environment requires employees with low levels of neuroticism due to the nature of services they offer. The submission of this study cannot be generalized, since the study does not consider other traits in the employees that may be responsible for their satisfaction on the job. For instance gender and age could be additional variables that make an individual with low neuroticism to have higher job satisfaction. Because Hodson (1989) in her analysis of gender difference in the determination of job satisfaction found that minor difference occur in men and women job satisfaction especially in a job that is peculiar to a particular gender. At least some women do not like complex work as men. Women also express slightly greater job dissatisfaction than men they have children under six years of age (Hodson 1989).

In the review of research conducted by Anderson et al. (2004), the main organisational, team, job and individual level factors, were found to influence employee innovativeness. These factors play a central role in influencing both individual innovativeness and that they are borne through interaction among employees. All these factors need to be considered when encouraging and supporting innovativeness in contemporary organisations. It has to be acknowledged that person, job and team-related factors such as personality characteristics, autonomy, goals and relationships with colleagues and line managers may play a more direct role in influencing the initiation phase of the innovation process characterised by creativity, than organisational level factors such as the structure or culture of the organisation.

Patterson et al., (2009) argued that although individuals are the source of innovations, innovations rarely occur in isolation. In order to innovate, employees often need to relate and interact with other individuals – inside or outside the organisation-hence the importance of communication, articulation, and social networking skills. They further looked at the previous empirical studies and noted that there are inconsistent results regarding whether extraversion or intraversion affect innovation. They concluded that introversion is related to real life artistic endeavour, while extraversion is good predictor of creativity and innovation (Patterson, 2002).

The intelligence and curiosity are the traits associated with openness to experience (Bakker et al., 2002). Referring to Watson & Hubbard (1996), Bakker et al., (2002) noted that people with high on openness to experience reflect a more flexible, imaginative, and intellectually curious approach in situations characterized with stress. Blickle (1996) found that openness to experience is related academic performance. Based on the previous studies, Patterson et al., (2009) asserted that openness to experience is the most salient personality dimension to predict the propensity for innovation (Batey&Furnham, 2006) and noted that there is a great deal of empirical studies with evidence of positive relationship between openness to experience and innovation. Patterson et al., (2009) further noted that some studies reflected that this relationship might be moderated by the contextual factors (Burke & Witt, 2004).

On innovative behaviour, Subramaniam (2012) in a study to determine the relationship between selected predictor variables and innovative behaviour in the workplace. The predictor variables are leader member relationship, leader role expectation, demographic variables and problem-solving style. Using questionnaire to collect data from 79 teacher educators, He found that only leader-member exchange correlated significantly with support for innovation. Leader-member exchange, leader role expectation and intuitive problem solving style correlated significantly with individual’s perception of adequacy of resource supply for innovation. Leader member exchange is the only variable that correlated significantly with psychological climate for innovation. He also found a significant relationship between psychological climate and innovative behaviour. Leader-member exchange, leader-role expectation, systematic problem-solving style and intuitive problem-solving style correlated significantly with innovative behaviour. He concluded that psychological climate for innovation is influenced by leader-member exchange and that support for innovation without resource supply will not result in innovative behaviour.

In a study carried out by De Spiegelaere (2011), to determine the relationship between job design and innovative work behaviour. The study was conducted using 952 employees from 17 different companies from various sectors. The surveys were distributed to all employees that would participate in the upcoming project of organisational innovation. The response rate was 53%, yet, 59 surveys were left out of consideration due to missing data. Of the total of 893 useable surveys, 47.89% were completed by male respondents. 60.48% of the respondents had a degree of at most higher secondary education. The average age of the respondents was 39 years old (median 40years and modus 31years). Further, 41.70% of the respondents were employed as blue-collar workers and 50.05% as white-collar employees. The rest were employed as agency workers or as members of the senior management. 70.22% of the respondents were engaged as full-time workers.

The findings from this study show that the relation between the job design and innovative work behaviour differs significantly for blue-and white-collar employees. Job resources, such as organizing tasks, have a more positive relation with innovative work behaviour for white-collar workers in comparison with blue-collar workers. This finding can be linked to previous literatures which identified routine tasks both as potential obstacle and a driver for innovative behaviour.

Among the significant predictors, leader-member exchange explained about 37 per cent of the variation in innovative behaviour, while leader role expectation explained 13 per cent of variation in innovative behaviour. These two variables explained about 50 per cent of the total variation in individual innovative behaviour in the workplace.

In another study,Oukes (2013), found a positive relationship between innovative stimulating leadership and innovative work behaviour among workers, this implies that when supervisors display innovative stimulating behaviour to a large extent, employees will be more motivated.

The above analysis is important to understand the fact that personality can stimulate certain behaviour in employees, and also to understand situations that can determine innovative behaviour.

In this study, Personality is expected to predict innovative behaviour, it is presumed that employees with high level of certain traits should exhibit innovative behaviour and when some traits are low in an employee, they should exhibit innovative behaviour.


Personality trait has been defined by many scholars is different ways, Schultz & Schultz (2005) explained personality as many attributes of an individual, a totality or collection of various characteristics that goes beyond superficial physical qualities. The word encompasses a host of subjective social and emotional qualities as well, ones that we may not be able to see directly, that a person may try to hide from us, or that we may try to hide from others. And when we talk about personality we talk about what makes a person different from other people, perhaps unique (Akinfala, 2005). Having established what personality entails, reviews of relevant theories of personality to this study are discussed below


The Five-factor model delineates five broad traits- extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience (Moss, 2008). Costa & McCrae (1992 cited in Moss 2008) identified six facets that correspond to each trait. For example Individual who exhibit Extraversion are gregarious, assertive, warm, positive, and active and as well seek excitement. The six facets that underpin Neuroticism include exhibition of anxiety, depression and hostility as well as feel self-conscious, act of impulsively and experience a sense of vulnerability, unable to accommodate aversive events. Agreeableness can be inferred through traits such as trust in other individuals, Straightforward and honest communication, altruistic and cooperative behaviour, compliance rather than defiance, modesty and humility, as well as tender, sympathetic attitudes. Openness to experience is the final trait, which relates the extent to which individuals are open to fantasies, aesthetics, feelings as well as novel actions, ideas and values, open individuals prefer novel intense, diverse and complex experiences, while closed individuals prefer familiar tasks and standardized routines (McCrae, 1996 cited in Moss 2008).

The relevance of this theory to the present study is that, individuals in an organisation possesses these traits and on several occasions, these traits has been the determinants of employee performance of task and duties, therefore it will be important to know whether individuals possessing any of these traits will exhibit innovative behaviour.


The theory of planned behaviour (TPB) is one of the most widely cited and applied behaviour theories. It is one of a closely inter-related family of theories which adopt a cognitive approach to explaining behaviour which centres on individuals’ attitudes and beliefs. The TPB evolved from the theory of reasoned action (Fishbein and Ajzen 1975 cited in Morris, Marzano, Dandy, & O’Brien 2012) which posited intention to act as the best Predictor of behaviour. Intention is itself an outcome of the combination of attitudes towards behaviour. That is the positive or negative evaluation of the behaviour and its expected outcomes, and subjective norms, which are the social pressures exerted on an individual resulting from their perceptions of what others think they should do and their inclination to comply with these. The TPB added a third set of factors as affecting intention (and behaviour); perceived behavioural control. This is the perceived ease or difficulty with which the individual will be able to perform or carry out the behaviour, and is very similar to notions of self-efficacy.

Morris, Marzano, Dandy, & O’Brien (2012) explained that TPB is suited to predicting behaviour and retrospective analysis of behaviour and has been particularly widely used in relation to health and other sphere of Life. Evidence suggests that the TPB can predict 20-30% of the variance in behaviour brought about via interventions, and a greater proportion of intention (Morris, Marzano, Dandy, & O’Brien 2012).

With the assertions of this theory that, individuals tends to plan the outcomes of their action within their cognition before going into it. In view of the present study, it will be important to know, if individuals that possess any of the personality of study, with a positive perception of the outcomes of innovative behaviour, will exhibit innovative behaviour.


This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research

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