Korean Social Science Journal

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 67–80 | Cite as

Exploring characteristics of innovative nonprofit organizations in South Korea



The purpose of this study was to explore how employees of Korean nonprofit organizations perceived characteristics of innovative organizations. The social-validation method (first, an open-ended question is given; and later, ideas collected from participants are used to make an instrument) was used to collect the data. Thirteen employees representing a variety of nonprofit organizations in South Korea participated in this study. At the first stage of the study, participants were asked to generate a list of characteristics of innovative organizations. A total of 125 characteristics of innovative nonprofit organizations were summarized into the 25 most often mentioned characteristics. At the second stage of the study, all participants were asked to rate each of the characteristics on how important they were for an innovative organization. Among the highest-ranked characteristics of innovative organizations were: having a clear organizational vision and mission statement, having transparent financial and accounting processes, having a leader who is open-minded and flexible, being responsive to clients’ needs, and having employees who share the vision and mission of the organization. The pattern of agreement among participants indicated a low degree of consensus. Implications were suggested based on the findings.


Innovation Nonprofit organization South Korea 


  1. Adair, J. (1996). Effective innovation. London: Pan Books.Google Scholar
  2. Ahuja, G. (2000). Collaboration networks, structural holes, and innovation: A longitudinal study. Administrative Science Quarterly, 45(3), 425–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Amabile, T. M., Conti, R., Coon, H., Lazenby, J., & Herron, M. (1996). Assessing the work environment for creativity. Academy of Management Journal, 39(5), 1154–1185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Angle, H. L. (1989). Psychology and organizational innovation. In A. H. Van de Ven, H. L. Angle, & M. S. Poole (Eds.), Research on the management of innovation: The Minnesota studies (pp. 135–170). New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  5. Asia Pacific Philanthropy Consortium. (2001). Strengthening philanthropy in the Asia Pacific: An agenda for action. In APPC Conference Background Paper, Korea. Retrieved March 24, 2013 from http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/apcity/unpan005483.pdf.
  6. Baer, M., & Frese, M. (2003). Innovation is not enough: Climates for initiative and psychological safety, process innovations, and firm performance. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 24, 45–68.Google Scholar
  7. Boehm, A. (1996). Forces driving competition in human service organizations and positional competitive responses. Administration in Social Work, 20(4), 61–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Borgatti, S. P. (1992). Anthropac 4.0 methods guide. Columbia, SC: Analytic Technologies.Google Scholar
  9. Caulkins, D. (1998). Consensus analysis: Do Scottish business advisers agree on models of success? In V. DeMunck & L. Sobo (Eds.), Using methods in the field: A practical introduction and casebook (pp. 179–195). Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira.Google Scholar
  10. Cohen, B. (1999). Fostering innovation in a large human service bureaucracy. Administration in Social Work, 23(2), 47–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Damanpour, F. (1991). Organizational innovation: a meta-analysis of effects of determinants and moderators. Academy of Management Journal, 34(3), 555–590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Drucker, P. F. (1994). Managing the non-profit organization. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.Google Scholar
  13. Edmondson, A. C. (1999). Psychological safety and learning behavior in work teams. Administrative Science Quarterly, 44, 350–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Henry, J., & Walker, D. (1992). Managing innovation. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  15. Hsieh, H. F., & Shannon, S. E. (2005). Three approaches to qualitative content analysis. Qualitative Health Research, 15(9), 1277–1288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jaskyte, K. & Riobo, M. S. R. M. (2004). Characteristics of innovative nonprofit organizations in Argentina. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 15(1), 71–79.Google Scholar
  17. Jung, D. I., Chow, C., & Wu, A. (2003). The role of transformational leadership in enhancing organizational innovation: Hypotheses and some preliminary findings. Leadership Quarterly, 14(4/5), 525–544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kanter, R. M. (1983). The change masters: Innovation for productivity in the American corporation. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  19. Kim, P. S. (2002). The development of Korean NGOs and governmental assistance to NGOs. Korean Journal, 42, 279–303.Google Scholar
  20. Kim, I., & Changsoon, H. (2002). Defining the nonprofit sector: South Korea. In Working paper of the Johns Hopkins comparative nonprofit sector project, 41. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Study.Google Scholar
  21. Martin, L. (2000). The environmental context of social welfare administration. In R. Patti (Ed.), The handbook of social welfare management (pp. 55–68). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  22. Nohria, N., & Eccles, R. G. (1992). Networks and organizations. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
  23. Oldham, G. R., & Cummings, A. (1996). Employee creativity: Personal and contextual factors at work. Academy of Management Journal, 39(3), 607–655.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ritchie, N. D., & Alperin, D. E. (2002). Innovation and change in the human services. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.Google Scholar
  25. Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.). New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  26. Romney, A. K., Weller, S. C., & Batchelder, W. H. (1986). Cultures as consensus: A theory of cultural and informant accuracy. American Anthropologist, 88, 313–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Runco, M. A. (2007). Creativity—theories and themes: research, development, and practice. Burlington: Elsevier Academic Press.Google Scholar
  28. Runco, M. A., & Johnson, D. J. (2002). Parents’ and teachers’ implicit theories of children’s creativity: A cross-cultural perspective. Creativity Research Journal, 14(3/4), 427–438.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sagawa, S., & Segal, E. (2000). Common interest, common good: Creating value through business and social sector interorganizational relationships. California Management Review, 42(2), 105–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Shin, J., & McClomb, G. E. (1998). Top executive leadership and organizational innovation: An empirical investigation of nonprofit human service organization (HSOs). Administration in Social Work, 22(3), 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sinkula, J. M., Baker, W. E., & Noordewier, T. (1997). A framework for market-based organizational learning: linking values, knowledge, and behavior. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 25(4), 305–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Tesluk, P. E., Farr, J. L., & Klein, S. A. (1997). Influences of organizational culture and climate on individual creativity. Journal of Creative Behavior, 31(1), 27–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Weller, S. C., & Romney, A. K. (1988). Systematic data collection. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  34. Zammuto, R. F., & O’Connor, E. J. (1992). Gaining advanced manufacturing technologies’ benefits: The roles of organization design and culture. Academy of Management Review, 17(4), 701–728.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Korean Social Science Research Council 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social WelfareSeoul Jangsin UniversityGwangju-siKorea
  2. 2.University of Georgia School of Social WorkAthensUSA

Personalised recommendations