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An investigation of organizational culture affecting employee performance: An empirical study of the design industry in Singapore

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Research Topic

The purpose of this study aims to determine the impact of organizational culture (OC) affecting employee performance (EP). Despite research concurring to organizational culture, there is rarely any empirical research on OC variables, particularly investigating the design industry concurred to employee performance in the Singapore context. Therefore, this research sought to elevate awareness and clarity for business organizations, specifically to Singapore’s design industry.

The researcher argues that there is a need to identify the culture in design organizations. The design industry, both management and designers, can leverage this study to design their company’s organizational culture to enhance their employee’s performance, which eventually elevates the odds of organization success. Employee performance will directly influence the company (Narayana, 2017; Rohim & Budhiasa, 2019; Siehl & Martin, 1990)

Background of the Design Industry in Singapore

Design is an intrinsic motivation factor in the Singapore story. As quoted by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, “Design is part of nation-building where nothing was by chance, Singapore is a Nation by design” (Lee, 2018). The year which Singapore celebrated its Golden Jubilee;

Singapore was named UNESCO creative city of Design in 2015. This designation supported the adoption of creative culture and created an eco-system that strives to integrate design into day-to-day living (DesignSingapore, 2019). As part of a member of the UNESCO creative cities network, it allows Singapore to have the opportunity to share its design capabilities and talents globally.

Singapore Design Industry Trends

With the effects of Industry 4.0, rapid technological advancements, and increasing customer demands, design competency is becoming critical to driving organizational growth and performance (Tan, 2019). According to DSG Industry Insights, there were 44,500 design practitioners in Singapore as of 2017 and is projected to grow to 57,400 by 2022. The critical sector adopters for design talents are technology, financial services, and business consulting groups (Skillsfuture, 2019). Design is poised to be a vital competitive advantage in organizations as they look to innovate by design.

According to the National Design Industry Manpower Plan study by DesignSingapore (2017), the number of designers at the upper management level in non-practicing design companies grew from 12 percent to 32 percent. The percent growth indicates that management will influence the design as a pathway for business growth. Design professionals will increase to more than 12,000 personas across industries by 2022. Aforementioned by Skillsfuture (2019), technology and services companies and business consulting groups are a new driving force for design talents. The study also reported that the ratio of 1.8 designers at non-design companies is compared to one design professional at design service firms.

Research Objectives

The research aims to examine which factors in organizational culture play an integral role in designing organizations. Creative business owners, HR managers, or designers may find opportunities to innovate their current culture to enhance their employee’s performance further. There are three main goals for the success of this study.

1. To identify the key traits of organizational culture and explore OC’s theoretical models as a potential applicator to design organizations.

2. To validate what types of organizational culture dimensions influence employee performance of the design industry in Singapore.

3. To evaluate and conclude the importance of OC as a motivating factor to employee performance in design organizations.

Research Questions

From the research topic, three research questions have been devised to investigate and conclude:

I. Which major OC theoretical dimensions have a significant impact on design employee performance in the design organizations?

The first question aims to decipher the main OC dimensions, if any, with a concise answer for design leadership. The literature and empirical finding are intended for real-world applications to design organizations. Subsequently, the design management can assess the strategy in their respective companies.

II. Which key organizational culture types contribute to design employees’ performance in the design organizations?

The following question aims to explore and examine the culture types that mainly impact design employees’ performance. With a greater understanding of the best culture type, if any, the design leadership may compare against their present culture, and serve to optimize their company’s culture.

III. Is Organizational Culture a critical driver to employee performance in design organizations?

The final question critically evaluates if organizational culture is an important driver to impact employee performance. If the primary empirical evidence was shown to be positive, design management should consider focusing their resources on building their company culture, which eventually may impact positively in their business performance in the next few financial years.