Cultivating strategic innovation in higher education

November 2016
Related Topics

Nearly all college and university leaders want to foster more creativity and innovation in their organizations. Yet the concept of innovation remains nebulous and the conditions that enable it are not well understood.


The authors of this report posit three conditions are crucial for creating a climate that encourages innovation in higher education: diversity of people, proficiencies and opinions; intrinsic motivation rather than external rewards; and autonomy of the individuals working to effect an institution’s mission.

Key Insights
Positive affective states, a focus on potential gains, and a concentration on distant outcomes each enhance creativity in individuals.
Since creativity is dependent on expertise within a given field, and the ability to both thoroughly understand and build upon the work of others, it may be enhanced through social interaction.
A diverse range of backgrounds, proficiencies and voices augment the creative impulses of individuals, as well as the innovative potential of a group.
Higher education institutions need to stimulate the intrinsic motivations of researchers, administrators, instructors and other employees to nurture an innovative work environment.
Researchers need the autonomy to debate concepts and investigate theories without fear of censorship or rebuke for an “incorrect” or an “unproductive” outcome.

The authors based their report on personal observations and a wide-ranging review of the research on creativity in higher education.