Canada’s Innovation Culture may not be the problem people think it is. While many commentators claim that Canada lags behind the United States in its ability to innovate, we found no evidence of this in our recent study on corporate culture. Through a series of studies the Impact Center is examining Canadian attitudes, beliefs and practices in innovation. Our prior study looked at attitudes towards innovation and found undeniable differences in Canadians willingness to take risks. This study set out to determine whether there is a difference in Canadian and American corporate innovation culture.

We set out to examine three dimensions of corporate culture including:

  • Receptivity to new ideas
  • The factors which pressure companies to innovate
  • Employee beliefs as to internal capabilities to innovate

To conduct the study, we asked 1,000 knowledge workers about their attitudes towards innovation, receiving responses from 600 Americans and 400 Canadians.

And while we expected to find differences between Canada’s innovation culture and that in the US, when we looked at the data we found it difficult to identify any real differences. In many cases, the responses came back with such similar numbers. The only consistent trend that we found is an increased likelihood of Americans to be polarized in their opinions; more likely to answer “Strongly Agree” or “Strongly Disagree” than Canadians are.

Our study found that 69% of both American and Canadian knowledge workers believe their companies to possess positive innovation cultures.

  • There was less than a 5% difference in Canadian and American responses for nine out of the twelve questions.
  • Americans are 11% more likely than Canadians to identify problems at work.
  • Americans were 13% more likely to think that their culture makes it easy to put forward new ideas.

Corporate innovation culture plays an important role in fostering or inhibiting the development of new innovative ideas. Culture sets the tone for an organization and permeate employee lives on a daily basis. This in turn affects a country’s ability to create and foster an innovation economy.

While these results may appear inconsequential, they allow us to eliminate a potential cause of Canadian innovation problems by highlighting the similarities in the Canadian and American beliefs about a culture of innovation.