Dubai Electricity and Water Authority: Case Study

Subject: Education
Pages: 50
Words: 14263
Reading time:
53 min
Study level: PhD


In the current competitive and knowledge-driven business environment, organizations are keen on finding ways to edge out their rivals in the market (Tidd 2017). The sustainability of any organization is currently defined by its ability to be unique in its product offering, understand the changing needs of the target population, and meet those needs in the best way possible (Ren & Zhai 2014). Differentiation as a concept has become more relevant than it ever was before as organizations struggle to meet the emerging demands (Brears 2017). According to Park et al. (2013), in such a highly competitive and constantly changing environment, creativity and innovation are critical ingredients for success. In the past, it was believed that change had to be driven by top leaders who were viewed as the most learned and experienced in their respective fields (Brettel & Cleven 2011). However, successful organizations empower their employees to the extent that they can individually play a role in initiating change in their respective work environments. Junior employees understand challenges that they face in their places of work, and therefore, are in the best position to come up with a possible solution that can address the problems (James 2017). They need to be capable of coming up with creative solutions to manage emerging and existing problems. However, that capability is highly dependent on their levels of training and the culture of innovation within an organization (Linke & Zerfass 2011).

Some organizations are more innovative than others are depending on the culture created by the top management and the competencies of the individual employees (Sayigh 2015). Organizations that succeed in creating a learning culture and are capable of embracing innovation tend to approach change positively and often address challenges they face with ease compared with entities, which are less innovative (Maktoum 2017). Skerlavaj, Song, and Lee (2010) mentioned that learning culture and innovation among employees are virtues, which must be inculcated within an entity. It must be fostered by the top management through continuous training and development, which is based on the changing environmental forces (Mayer 2012). Organizations must understand that as technology brings about new trends and approaches to doing business their employees need to be empowered through training and development (McNabb 2015). The leaders need to understand the new trends and be capable of working in the increasingly challenging business environment. Organizations need to understand the drivers and constraints of training in fostering learning culture and innovation (Prescott 2016).

Organizational culture is a fundamental factor in fostering learning culture and innovation (Shavinina 2013). It can be a driver or a constraint of training within an entity depending on the approach that the top leaders have taken. Song and Chermack (2008) say that leadership is also a major force that defines how innovative an organization can be, especially when faced with changes that must be addressed to protect the survival of the organization. The level of education is another factor that many scholars believe defines the ability of employees to deal with challenges they face at the workplace in a creative manner. The manner in which a high school dropout will approach a problem is relatively different from how a graduate will do in the same environment. Numerous other factors may either promote or hinder learning culture and innovation within an organization. Understanding these drivers and constraints is important, especially for the top leaders who are keen on pushing their organizations to higher levels of success (Murad & Kichan 2016). Leaders need to know how to manage the constraints and take advantage of the drivers to create an environment where change, creativity, and innovation become part of the organization’s culture. In this research, the researcher seeks to explore drivers and constraints of training in fostering learning culture and innovation, specifically focusing on Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA). DEWA was chosen because of its strategic role in the vision 2021.

Background of Innovation in the United Arab Emirates

According to Sheehan, Garavan and Carbery, (2014), the United Arab Emirates is one of the most innovative countries in the world. For many years, the country’s economy has been dependent on the oil and gas sector (Abu Dhabi Education Council 2010). However, that is slowly changing as the government, and private stakeholders come together to diversify the country’s economy (Abu Dhabi Education Council 2010). The main driver of innovation in this country is the government (Abu Dhabi Education Council 2010). The United Arab Emirates government has invested billions of dollars in various sectors to help promote growth and creativity (Prescott 2016). When vision 2021 was developed, it became necessary for the government and all the players to promote innovative culture to help in realizing the national dream (Shavinina 2013). Mohammed bin Rashid Center for Government Innovation was established in 2014 by His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum specifically to promote innovation in the country (Claire, Duncan & Niamh 2014). The government understands that although experts can be hired to help spur growth in various sectors, the vision 2021 set by the government can only be realized if the locals play a critical role in various sectors of the economy. The center was established to help the locals embrace creativity in solving problems that they face in this society at work or home. It allows its students to understand how to engage with other stakeholders when looking for solutions. According to Spanos (2009), the culture of innovation can be inculcated in people through training. That is why this center is dedicated to training the locals, especially the fresh graduates and people working in various industries in the country.

The United Arab Emirates’ level of creativity is evident in various sectors of the economy, all of which are supported by the government in one way or the other (Baycan 2016). In the construction sector, the government has initiated very ambitious projects to ensure that the country can compete favorably against other leading nations around the world (Bielenia-Grajewska 2017). Currently, the country is home to the world’s tallest building on earth, Burj Khalifa, which is a clear indication of the determination of its leaders to put the country on the world map (Colombo 2014). Innovation has also been witnessed in the tourism sector. According to a report by Omerzel and Jurdana (2016), the country currently has some of the largest artificial islands in the world. They include Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, and Palm Jebel Ali in Dubai (Morpeth & Hongliang 2015). These islands have been attracting tourists from all over the world (Parris 2016). The country’s transport system has also been improved to help spur economic growth (Sayigh 2014). The metro system in the city of Dubai is considered one of the best in the world (Ali & Park 2016). It took the creativity of the highest level to come up with this efficient means of transport that has significantly reduced traffic jams that had started becoming common in the city. Many other sectors of the economy have also benefited from the government’s ambitious program to promote growth through creativity and innovation (Information Resources Management Association 2017). However, this research will especially focus on the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) because previous literature has focused on many contributing sectors of the economy with the exception of the sector of electricity and water authority in Dubai (Ali & Park 2016).

DEWA was established on January 1, 1992, by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, with the primary goal of making clean water and a regular supply of electricity available to the residents of Dubai (Maktoum 2017). It was a challenging task given the limited water resources in the region and rapidly expanding the population of Dubai city (Sayigh 2015). It became necessary for this organization to embrace creativity and innovation to meet the increasing demands of its customers. First, the organization realized that it needed to be energy secure (Cnaan & Vinokur-Kaplan 2014). Given that the country has one of the richest oil reserves in the world, the organization opted to produce electricity using natural gas and diesel (Kersten, Blecker & Ringle 2014). However, the emerging trends and the need to reduce the use of fossil fuel because of their impact on the environment has pushed this organization to the edge as it tries to find alternative energy sources (Pandey & Upadhyay 2016). Renewable energy is seen as the best alternative. By collaborating with local and international experts, DEWA has initiated highly innovative and ambitious programs in the renewable energy sector (Dawson & Andriopoulos 2014). The programs are set to ensure that the organization can produce electricity majorly from renewable energy sources. Although the demand for energy is increasing rapidly in this city, the programs put in place will ensure that only 40% of the total energy needs come from non-renewable sources (Gibson 2015). The wind is expected to be one of the main sources of energy in the country by the year 2021.

The organization has invested heavily in solar and hydropower, which will boost the production of electricity from renewable sources (Mann, Watt & Matthews 2013). Significant investments have been made in the biogas and straw sectors as the other alternative energy sources in the country (Neskakis 2012). As it secures its energy sources, the organization has also initiated creative plans to increase the availability of water in the city. Dubai has a limited amount of clean water reserves (Pickering-Iazzi 2017). It is becoming a concern as the population continues to increase, which pushes up the demand. Seawater is available in abundance, but it has to be desalinated to make it useful both in the domestic and industrial sectors. According to Brettel and Cleven (2011), it is relatively more costly to desalinate seawater than to use other means such as drilling wells to get water. However, the growing population has left the organization with limited options other than to embrace emerging technologies in making seawater available. It has invested heavily in geothermal energy production that will be used in the desalination of seawater (Jockenhofer 2013). The project is expected to boost the availability and affordability of clean water in Dubai (Høyrup 2012).

According to Linke and Zerfass (2011), DEWA has registered impressive growth and success in meeting the demand of its customers in the market. The success of this organization is majorly attributed to its commitment to promoting creativity and innovation. For a long time, the organization was operated under rigid systems where employees had to receive instructions from superiors and act upon them without any deviation. However, as younger and techno-savvy employees rose to positions where they could make decisions, the management approach started to change. The organization started appreciating the role of employees in coming up with innovative ways of addressing challenges that the organization faces (Clark 2013). The ease with which junior employees can interact with the top management unit of the organization has also made it easy for innovative ideas to be explored within the organization.

Currently, DEWA is one of the companies making positive steps towards the goals set in the realization of the vision 2021 (Maktoum 2017). Although it faces numerous challenges in its quest to achieve the set goals, the creativity and innovativeness of the employees and management unit have enabled it to overcome most of these obstacles (Morpeth & Hongliang 2015). The management of this organization has been investing heavily in the training of its employees both locally and internationally. The management understands that the ability of its employees depends on their level of training. The organization has always offered its employees opportunities in case they want to further their education (Omerzel & Jurdana 2016). They are offered a soft loans to help in sponsoring their further studies. The organization has also introduced an in-house training program where talent is natured. It introduced the in-house training program to help equip its employees with work-related skills (Omerzel & Jurdana 2016). Experts come and work alongside the organization’s employees, explaining how they can undertake their responsibilities in a more efficient manner. These training programs are meant to improve the creativity of these employees in the workplace. It enables them to have a new angle of looking at the challenges they often face at work (Tidd 2017).

Research Context

When examining drivers and constraints of training in fostering learning culture and innovation, it is important to explain the context of the study to demonstrate its relevance to the organization under investigation. According to Skerlavaj, Song, and Lee (2010), the United Arab Emirates, and indeed the entire world, is faced with new challenges brought about by climate change and the need for sustainability as the current generation tries to meet its needs without jeopardizing the ability of the future generation to meet their own needs. Over the last five decades, the United Arab Emirates has been one of the world’s top producers of petroleum products (Balakrishnan 2017). The proceeds from the petroleum industry have been the primary force behind the country’s economic growth (Maktoum 2017). However, the local leaders and the private players are concerned that the country cannot continuously rely on oil and gas export to support its economy (Park et al. 2013). Scientists and environmental conservation groups are already warning against the use of fossil fuels. Developed countries such as the United States and Europe, which have been the largest market for the country’s petroleum products, are not trying to reduce their reliance on fossil fuel as they try to embrace clean energy. Locally, private players- working closely with government bodies- are also trying to find ways of introducing renewable energy as a major source of power in the country (Pantouvakis & Bouranta 2017). It means that oil and gas will not be as lucrative products as they currently are in the market. Even if the products were to remain attractive both locally and internationally, the current estimates show that the oil reserves in the country will dry up in the next few decades. It means that the country has to find alternative sources of revenue other than oil and gas (Asher 2016).

According to Castro et al. (2013), the United Arab Emirates is not richly endowed with precious metals such as gold, diamond, mercury, silver among others. The arid nature of the region and limited availability of freshwater also makes it impossible to become a leading agricultural hub in the region. These economic challenges have pushed the government to the edge as it tries to find alternative income sources for the country. Trade and tourism are the only two primary options that the country is left within its effort to diversify its economy. It is important to note that the United Arab Emirates is not one of the world’s top manufacturers. The country is also not home to many worlds’ natural wonders (Maktoum 2017). As such, it means that the country has to go the extra mile to attract tourists and promote trade. Omerzel and Jurdana (2016) observe that the city of Dubai has succeeded in both. The city has one of the most efficient means of transport in the world. It has taken full advantage of its strategic geographic location in terms of important international trade routes to become one of the leading centers of trade. Many goods from China and Japan find their way to Africa and the rest of the world through Dubai.

Products manufactured in Europe also use this route as they spread their products to the international market (Parris 2016). These companies are attracted to this country by the ease of doing business, efficient means of transport, improved security, and support they get from the government entities. Tourism has also been flourishing in this country, especially in the last decade. The government, in partnership with other private players, has promoted the growth of this industry through various aggressive strategies (Omerzel & Jurdana 2016). The beautiful beaches and artificial islands have been attracting tourists from all over the world (Ramos 2016). The government and other local players appreciate that this country lacks a number of natural resources. However, that has not stopped it from creating an environment where trade and tourism can flourish (Tidd 2017).

In the past two decades, the government has used its financial muscle to promote economic growth and diversification. In many cases, experts were invited to manage major projects in various sectors of the economy (Oxford Business Group 2015). Burj Khalifa and Palm Jumeirah, landmark structures that have been attracting tourists from all parts of the world, are projects that were undertaken by experts from the design stage to their construction (Hasan 2012). The country still relies on international expertise as it embraces emerging technology in the growth of its economy (Walliman 2016). However, the local authorities are concerned that the continued overreliance on international expertise may not be sustainable (Asher 2016). It is increasingly becoming necessary for the country to empower its citizens so that they can play a critical role in advancing the economy (Balakrishnan 2017). The locals understand the problems that the country faces, and are best positioned to find the appropriate solution. However, they can only be active participants if they have the right skills. They need to be creative enough to understand the local problems and develop innovative ways of addressing them (Sayigh 2014). They need proper training in their respective fields and interaction with international experts so that they can have global ideas for solving local problems.

As the country struggles to empower its citizens through training to foster learning culture and innovation, it is faced with a number of drivers and constraints (Sayigh 2015). Some forces make it easy to foster a learning culture and innovation among the locals through training. Other forces make it difficult to train the locals and promote a learning culture and innovation among them (Kloep 2012). As explained above, there is no option but to promote innovativeness among the locals. The country must ensure that its citizens have the right skills and knowledge that can enable them to become active participants in the economic growth and diversification of the economy (Maktoum 2017). Understanding the constraints and drivers of training in fostering learning culture and innovation is the first step (Mallakh 2015). It is the responsibility of the government and all the employers such as DEWA, to understand how to take advantage of these drivers while at the same time managing the constraints to promote creativity among their employees.

Problem Statement

In the current competitive global business environment, innovation has become an important tool that both government and private entities must embrace to achieve their set goals and objectives (Tidd 2017). However, not all organizations are always successful in fostering a learning culture and innovation among their employees (Prescott 2016). Ali and Park (2016) say that although learning culture and innovation are desirable outputs, only a few entities can boast of having them because it takes long and tedious training to empower the employees. Sharifirad and Ataei (2012) say that achieving success in the water and electricity authority in Dubai starts with understanding both the drivers and constraints of training in an organizational setting. A form must understand forces that make it easy to train its employees to become innovative in the workplace (Baycan 2016). Factors such as the academic qualifications of the employees, their age, availability of training resources including the trainers, and government policies may help boost an organization’s effort in empowering the employees (Pandey & Upadhyay 2016). Negative societal or organizational culture, limited resources, and other external environmental forces may be major constraints to an organization that seeks to train its employees and foster a learning and innovative culture (Dawson & Andriopoulos 2014).

The problem that many local companies face is that they do not take time to understand these drivers and constraints to employee training. Some of them have regular training sessions, which are more of rituals than a genuine effort to empower the employees (Asher 2016). In such poorly organized training sessions, employees are always brought together in the social hall and lectured about the changing technology and the need to be committed to their work. Little effort, if any, is made to inform them about modern technologies that they need to embrace to become effective in their workplace. Omerzel and Jurdana (2016) argue that it is one of the most common mistakes that many organizations in the UAE are committing when empowering their employees. First, it is not appropriate to group together employees from different departments and then purports to offer them training on the emerging needs and technologies. Different departments have different needs and challenges that they face (Balakrishnan 2017). At the same time, employees within the same department have different capacities and responsibilities in their respective workplaces. It means that it is not enough to group these employees based on their departments. A proper training session should also take into consideration the current capabilities of the employee and define what each of them needs to work as per the expectation of the organization (Sharifirad & Ataei 2012). That systematic approach to the training of employees with the view of fostering learning culture and innovation can only happen if the top management understands the drivers and constraints of such efforts. Unfortunately, not many companies can follow such systematic approaches (Gibson 2015).

DEWA is one of the most important public utility companies in Dubai given that it is responsible for the production and supply of electricity, and the supply of clean water for domestic and commercial use (Westeren & Westeren 2012). The organization is one of the major players whose success will define the ability of the country to achieve its vision in 2021 (Maktoum 2017). As the country looks forward to reducing its reliance on natural gas and diesel in the production of electricity, all the stakeholders are keen on what this organization is going to do in achieving the set goal (Pickering-Iazzi 2017). The vision also states that all basic needs such as water will be readily available for the locals. Organizations such as DEWA require dedication among their employees, highly innovative strategies, and proper investment (Maktoum 2017). DEWA and many other local companies have always relied on experts from Europe, North America, Japan, and China to help in implementing some of these ambitious plans. However, the organization now needs to rely on its local experts who understand the problems faced by the organization and its customers.

Some of the employees lack specialized skills that can enable them to deliver the best outcome in their respective assignments (Clark 2013). Darvish and Nazari (2013) note, when an organization comes up with training programs for its employees, it is important to ensure those job requirements are closely compared with the current skills of the employees. Leaders need to understand that training should be focused on aligning the skills with the job requirements with a special focus on empowering them to the level where they can think creatively when undertaking their jobs (Wang & Ahmed 2016). Some of the goals set by this organization such as shifting energy production from the use of fossil fuel to the use of renewable energy may not be easy to achieve (Asher 2016). It will not be enough for the organization to invest a lot of money into this project. Deliberate measures must be put in place to empower the employees (Balakrishnan 2017).

Research Gap and Justification

The importance of training in fostering learning culture and innovation is one area that has attracted the attention of many scholars over the past several decades (Bielenia-Grajewska 2017). Studies have been conducted based on various organizations, mostly the large American multinational companies, on how they are using training as a means of empowering their employees to be innovative in their workplaces (Tidd 2017). Most of the in-depth analysis of organization-based training that the researcher accessed focuses on multinational companies in developed economies (Prescott 2016). There is a research gap when it comes to getting access to research on local governmental entities in the United Arab Emirates. For instance, other than the organization’s website and unscholarly scanty information available about DEWA on the online platforms, it is not easy to find other reliable sources talking about the organization (Westeren & Westeren 2012). It is even more difficult to find books published about DEWA’s training strategies, drivers, and constraints they face when trying to empower their employees (Mallakh 2015). If one is unable to engage a few of the employees of this organization, then he or she will be forced to guess the exact training methods and challenges faced during such endeavors.

This study is important because it seeks to find local solutions to local challenges faced by DEWA, which is keen on promoting a learning culture and innovation through training. It is easy to find strategies that were used by General Electric or Apple Inc. in solving similar problems in the United States (Kloep 2012). The solutions that delivered excellent results for an organization in one country may not deliver the same results in a different country even if they are in the same organization because the context of the study is different (Clark 2013). The challenges faced by water and electricity companies in the United States and Europe are not the same as the challenges that companies in the same industry will face in the United Arab Emirates. Unlike Europe and North America, the UAE is an arid country (Balakrishnan 2017). Water companies in North America only need to treat fresh water and make it available using limited resources. On the other hand, the dry nature of the country is now forcing DEWA to desalinate seawater as the demand increases (Westeren & Westeren 2012). At the same time, many American electricity companies use the many rivers in the country to produce hydroelectric power; a luxury that DEWA lacks locally relying on the strategies used in these developed countries to solve local problems may be misleading (Hasan 2012).

Through this research project, DEWA will know how to address its local problems using locally developed solutions. Having a global outlook towards solving a problem is not bad, but the solution must be local (Asher 2016). The stakeholders must appreciate that it is not possible to have a natural environment in Dubai similar to that in Amsterdam (Maktoum 2017). The path towards the growth of the cities may be similar, but the strategies used must be different because of the differences in natural forces (Ramos 2016). By directly engaging sampled respondents from DEWA, this study will help in understanding specific challenges that the organization faces when trying to train its employees (Mayer 2012). Factors that drive such training programs will also be outlined. With that information, it will be possible to recommend what the management of DEWA and other similar companies in the United Arab Emirates should do to foster learning culture and innovation.

Research Aim and Objectives

According to Ali and Park (2016), when conducting research, it is important to define the aim and objectives in very clear terms. They help in determining the path that should be taken in collecting, analyzing, and presenting data. It makes it possible for one to determine if a research project was able to achieve its goals (Spanos 2009). The primary aim of this research project is to explore drivers and constraints of training in fostering learning culture and innovation, specifically focusing on Dubai Electricity and Water Authority. The specific objectives include the following:

  • To identify and explain drivers of training in fostering learning culture and innovation at DEWA
  • To identify and explain constraints of training in fostering learning culture and innovation at DEWA
  • To recommend how the management of DEWA can overcome the challenges while taking advantage of the drivers to promote training, a learning culture, and innovation

Research Questions

The questions defined the nature of data that was collected from both primary and secondary sources. According to Pruzan (2016), if the research questions are not set appropriately, it is possible to have a situation where irrelevant data is collected from various sources. That is why the researcher based the questions on the above objectives. The following are the research questions that guided this project:

  1. What are the drivers of training in fostering learning culture and innovation at DEWA?
  2. What are the constraints of training in fostering learning culture and innovation at DEWA?
  3. How can the management of DEWA overcome the challenges while taking advantage of the drivers to promote training, a learning culture, and innovation?

Structure of the Research Proposal

This research proposal is divided into three chapters. Chapter 1 provides the background information where major concepts of the research are defined and explained. The chapter provides a problem statement, research gap and a justification for the study. The second chapter focused on a review of the literature. In this section, the researcher provided a general overview and background of drivers and constraints of training in general, how they affect organizations in the United Arab Emirates, and how they specifically affect Dubai Electricity and Water Authority. The same approach was taken when analyzing learning culture and innovation in general, in the UAE, and at DEWA. The researcher then developed a research hypothesis based on the finding from this chapter. In chapter 3, the researcher provided a detailed explanation of the research methods that will be embraced in this project. The chapter starts with an explanation of the philosophy that will be used, measurements of variables, and research methods used. It then explains the research strategy and data collection methods. The chapter also explains the data analysis approach, ethical issues, and expected outcome and contributions of the research to the existing bodies of knowledge.

Literature Review

In the current competitive business environment, organizations are keen on embracing innovation as a means of remaining sustainable (Dobni 2008). Creativity and innovativeness are concepts, which have gained massive popularity over the past few decades as companies try to differentiate their products from that of their competitors and to lower their cost of production through improved efficiency (Obeidat, Masa’deh & Abdallah 2014). Many companies have come to appreciate the need to empower their employees through training as a way of fostering a learning culture and innovation (Spanos 2009). This topic has attracted many scholars over the years, and it is a widely covered field. A researcher has the responsibility of ensuring that he or she comes up with new information that can improve the existing bodies of knowledge (Wang & Ahmed 2016). It is not prudent to reproduce information that already exists because it will be of limited value (Pickering-Iazzi 2017). As such, literature review was considered a very important part of the research. It sheds light on what other scholars have found out in their studies. They also provide background information for the researcher to make it possible for one to understand the direction that should be taken (Ratten, Braga & Marques 2017). By looking at the gaps in the existing literature, it is possible to know areas that need to be covered in a research project.

Overview and Background of Drivers and Constraints of Training

Traditionally, training was considered the responsibility of colleges and other institutions of learning as they prepared employees to enter the labor market (Pantouvakis & Bouranta 2017). These institutions remain the primary training grounds in modern society as they shape the future generation of workers. However, the changing forces in the workplace environment have made it necessary for employees to get further training even after graduating from college. The emerging technologies are bringing about new ways of undertaking various tasks in the workplace environment. Some employees graduated from college over twenty years ago when some of the current technological practices were not in existence. They have to learn the emerging ways of working as changes emerge (Høyrup 2012). The training that they get at college only offers them a basis upon which they can learn new methods of working. Successful organizations have learned the importance of creating systems and structures that either can facilitate the training of employees in their workstations or organize seminars so that their skills can be aligned with the changing demands of the workplace. Change is inevitable, and employees can only embrace it if they are constantly equipped with the relevant skills (Morpeth & Hongliang 2015).

Social drivers and constraints

From a general perspective, there are a number of social drivers of training, which are worth discussing in this paper (McNabb 2015). One of the most important social drivers for training is the need for a sense of belonging and acceptance. Technology keeps changing, and new strategies are emerging that make it necessary for employees to acquire new skills (Prescott 2016). In many organizations around the world, the ability of an employee to understand and embrace new methods of undertaking their duties, especially those that are technology-based, is highly valued. Leaders and supervisors’ constant praises for such flexible employees make their colleagues develop the urge to learn new skills. They develop a positive attitude towards training as a means of learning the new technology-based strategies (Baycan 2016). To them, training offers the skills that will make them as efficient as their techno-savvy colleagues. It eliminates cases where they lack a sense of belonging because of their inadequacies. Dobni (2008) says that when an employee feels that his or her skills are inadequate, they may develop the inferiority complex problem as a major problem that hinders their ability to work properly within an organization. They will despise themselves and view others as being superior to them even when that is not the case (Pandey & Upadhyay 2016). In such circumstances when their problems become psychological, they are susceptible to committing mistakes that compromise their output within the organization. If such a problem is not arrested in time, the fear that they may lose their jobs may emerge (Della, Scott & Hinton 2012). Such employees may develop strong resentment towards their colleagues and leaders, as they feel marginalized and unappreciated. Many top leaders, out of the desire to eliminate such undesirable eventualities, feel obligated to train their employees to empower them. They believe that in so doing, unity and cohesion will be created, other than the improved performance expected out of the newly gained skills. Many multinational companies such as Mercedes Benz of Germany and Toyota Corporation of Japan have invested heavily into projects meant to empower their employees and create unity and teamwork by aligning their skills with job requirements (Jockenhofer 2013).

It is important to appreciate that a number of constraints exist that may make it difficult to promote training in an organizational setting (Gibson 2015). Organizations can come up with training programs because of the global or natural pressure to improve the skills and competencies of their employees. However, that may not be enough if there is no commitment among the employees who are directly involved in such programs. Wang and Ahmed (2016) say that when the employees do not see the relevance of training, then the investment made by the management may not yield the desired outcome. They may attend the training sessions, but it may not amount to much because of a lack of commitment. Another major social constraint faced by many organizations in training their employees is discrimination and racism. The problem is very common in the United States and parts of Europe. According to Yu et al. (2013), the United States has made impressive steps towards eradicating the problem of racial discrimination and other practices of stereotyping. However, the problem is not far from over. It is common to find cases where people of the same race form teams within organizations because they do not feel they belong to people of the other races. That is a major hindrance, especially when these employees have to work as a unit during training (Neskakis 2012). The mistrust among people on racial lines makes it difficult to make them committed to issues meant for the mutual benefit of all employees such as regular training.

Economic drivers and constraints

The economic environment may also have a significant impact on the training of employees with the view of fostering a learning culture and innovation among employees. The need to achieve economic success is one of the key drivers of training in the modern business environment (Dawson & Andriopoulos 2014). Companies know that their survival depends on their ability to maintain their market share and attract more customers despite the increasing level of market competition. The need to meet the needs of customers in the best way possible has never been more relevant than it is today (Clark 2013). The emergence of local and international competitors means that organizations must find ways of making their products unique in the market. They must also find ways of improving the quality of their products while at the same time lowering their cost of production through improved efficiency. That can only be achieved if they have a team of the highly skilled and innovative workforce (Høyrup 2012). The employees must be capable of understanding the challenges that their organizations go through and be able to come up with creative solutions. The knowledge gained in the institutions of higher learning is important but not enough in the current highly challenging business environment. More is always demanded of employees every time there is a major change within the industry, and that can only be realized through more training (Jockenhofer 2013). Companies such as Google have come up with very effective training programs for their employees to make them more efficient in their workplaces. The desire to achieve greater economic success is driving these companies to invest more in enhancing the skills of their employees.

In some cases, economic forces may be a constraint towards an effective training of the employees in an organizational setting (Colombo 2014). Training programs are often costly ventures that reduce the profitability of an organization. Some of the emerging changes brought about by new technology often force organizations to invest a lot in employee training (Clark 2013). Sometimes they have to be sent to other countries so that they can learn the new concepts in settings where they have been embraced. Organizations can only afford to invest in such programs if they are enjoyed impressive economic growth. When there is an economic crunch, many organizations often scale down on training costs. According to Dobni (2010), the 2008 global economic recession affected so many companies in Europe and North America. Many of these companies were forced to scale down on their expenses as their revenues continued to shrink. It reached a time when many companies considered the training of the employees as a less demanding need at that time. Although the stakeholders appreciated the need to train regularly the employees to make them more efficient and productive, there were other more pressing economic needs (Baycan 2016). Such economic constraints often emerge, and when they do, organizations often consider reducing their expenses on training. When such reductions are made, the quality and frequency with which such exercises are offered are compromised.

Technological drivers and constraints

Technology is by far one of the most important drivers of regular employee training in modern society (Baycan 2016). New inventions are made in various sectors of the economy, and when that happens, companies are often forced to equip their employees with new skills (Mallakh 2015). It can be dangerous for an organization to ignore the emerging technological changes in the market. Eastman Kodak was once the dominant player in the film industry, controlling over 90% of the global market (Brears 2017). It was also the first organization to have invented the first digital film at a time when traditional films were very popular. However, the top management was not ready to embrace this new technology and opted to ignore it. Employees were never trained to be ready to embrace emerging technology. Fujifilm grabbed the opportunity that Eastman Kodak had ignored and embraced the new technology (Ren & Zhai 2014). It trained its employees to ensure that their skills were aligned with the emerging trends. It did not take long for Fujifilm to overtake Eastman Kodak as the top global organization in the film industry (Information Resources Management Association 2017). Eastman Kodak continued experiencing a serious challenge, and it was almost declared bankrupt in 2011 as its market share continued to dwindle. Many other companies have faced the same or worse fates because of their reluctance to embrace emerging technology. According to Pantouvakis and Bouranta (2017), technology has made training simpler and relatively cheaper than it was in the past. Because of the new inventions in the field of communication, it is easy for employees to learn new skills in their workplace or at home without necessarily visiting other countries or institutions of higher learning. Through technologies such as video-conferencing, it is easy for employees and their trainers to interact irrespective of their geographic locations (Wang & Ahmed 2016). The new technologies have also improved engagement among the employees and between employees and the top leaders. It is now easy to share new knowledge through various internal platforms within companies.

According to Eidizadeh, Salehzadeh, and Esfahani (2017), although technology is one of the leading drivers of training, in some cases it can be a major hindrance that makes it difficult to achieve the set training goals. Social media is one of the biggest success stories of technology in modern society. Many employees tend to waste time on social media (Prescott 2016). From a distance, one may think that they are engaged in constructive work in their workplaces (James 2017). However, a close look may reveal that they are spending most of their time talking to friends about entertaining themselves. This problem is always common during training sessions. Companies are often forced to spend a significant amount of their resources to sponsor training programs (Tidd 2017). However, some employees spend their training time on social media instead of engaging in training-related activities. They end up learning very little despite the time and resources invested in such projects.

Overview and Background of Drivers and Constraints of Training in UAE

In the United Arab Emirates, many companies are finding themselves operating in a highly competitive business environment. Cities such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi have attracted multinational companies from Europe, North America, Japan, and China, putting even further pressure on the local companies (Dawson & Andriopoulos 2014). The ability of an organization to achieve success in such an environment depends on the level of efficiency of its employees and ability to understand and embrace the emerging trends, some of which may be very disruptive. As Spanos (2009) says, people often fear change because of the unknown consequences it may have. Others are just comfortable doing what they have always been doing without having to change to new methods. It takes regular training to empower them so that they can become innovative and ready to deal with the changing forces (Kloep 2012).

Social drivers and constraints

In the United Arab Emirates, a number of social forces have acted as drivers of training within the local companies (Baycan 2016). The social environment in the country is shifting as many sectors embrace emerging global trends. Women have now become an important part of the working community. In fact, studies have indicated that women in this community are the most innovative in the region. Most of them are now completed their college degrees and registering impressive progress in their careers (Gibson 2015). Society has created a conducive environment for competition among men and women. Such competitiveness makes it desirable for people to engage in regular training to achieve career growth. The fact that gender no longer acts as a barrier towards one’s success at work means that employees feel socially obliged to embrace training as a means of sharpening their skills (Sheehan, Garavan & Carbery 2014). The country has also embraced experts who have played a part in promoting a culture of creativity and innovation in the country.

According to Claire, Duncan, and Niamh (2014), although the social environment in the United Arab Emirates has improved significantly over the past few decades, it is important to appreciate that some constraints still exist that may affect training in a way of fostering learning culture and innovation. One of the common factors that affect training is the continued reliance of expatriates in many sectors of the economy. Although the country has registered impressive growth in the education sector, the presence of experts in specialized industries is still high (Brettel & Cleven 2011). Many local companies consider it economically unwise to invest in training these experts working on a contract basis. An organization can spend time and financial resources in improving their skills only for them to quit and move to rival companies or back to their home country at the end of their contract. This problem has persisted for some time, especially among companies hiring employees for contracts of less than three years (Neskakis 2012). The fact that the future of such an employee within the organization is not assured makes the employers reluctant to spend a lot on them in terms of improving their skills. Statistics show that employees in this country are likely to move to other companies at the end of their contract if they are assured of better pay than in their current organization.

Economic drivers and constraints

The economic forces have a significant impact on the ability of local companies to embrace training as a way of fostering learning culture and innovation (Linke & Zerfass 2011). One of them is the commitment of the government to diversify the country’s economy to reduce its overreliance on the oil and gas sector. The government has made a massive investment to promote education, tourism, transport, and trade sectors (Spanos 2009). Government-sponsored innovation centers have helped in equipping the locals with knowledge about the changing forces in the market. Local companies have benefited a lot from these government programs because they do not have to spend a lot of money on their employees’ training (Høyrup 2012). The improving education standards in the country, especially in the institutions of higher learning, are another driver of training. Many local companies are now working closely with colleges and research institutions to find local problems to challenges that they face in their operations. They no longer have to rely heavily on international experts (Hasan 2012).

The economic environment in the country may also act as a constraint to the regular training of the employees in the country. The United Arab Emirates has enjoyed a long period of economic prosperity, especially following the end of the global economic recession that affected many countries in the region (Skerlavaj, Song & Lee 2010). It has been attracting multinational companies and expatriates keen on taking advantage of the booming economy. However, experts are now warning that the economic boom that has been attracting experts, especially in the city of Dubai, is likely to end in the future (Neskakis 2012). The prediction has forced many organizations to consider strengthening their assets for a tougher economic environment in the future. Some are considering diversification, especially into the real estate industry as a means of protecting their future revenues. When it is predicted that the economy may stagnate, Sharifirad and Ataei (2012) say that most companies often consider investing in securities that can protect their revenue flow instead of recurrent expenditure such as training of the employees.

Drivers and Constraints of Training at DEWA

The current chief executive officer of this organization is Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer who has been at the helm of the organization since 2004 (Mayer 2012). DEWA currently employs over 9,000 people in various departments, most of whom are experts. It supplies electricity to over 600,000 with close to the same number of clients using its water services on a daily basis (Asher 2016). Although this public organization does not have a strong competitor in the market, especially in the electricity sector, it is still facing serious challenges as it seeks to meet the increasing demand of the residents. The population of Dubai has been on the rise but, the natural clean water reserves are limited (Balakrishnan 2017). The global society is also under immense pressure to shift its energy use from natural gas and diesel to green energy sources. Currently, this organization relies majorly on natural gas to produce electricity for its customers. It has to find alternative means of producing electricity other than fossil fuel. These challenges can effectively be overcome by embracing innovative culture among the employees.

One of the main drivers of training in this organization is the strong commitment of the government to embrace renewable energy sources as part of the pillars through which the emirate will achieve its vision in 2021 (Colombo 2014). Massive investments have been made in the production of solar, wind, and hydropower as a way of reducing reliance on natural gas. The organization has initiated several programs, which are meant to diversify its energy sources. Given the limited clean water resources, it has also initiated an ambitious plan of desalinating seawater for domestic and commercial use (Maktoum 2017). These programs can only be successful if the organization embraces training among its workforce to make them more efficient. It is true that most of these fundamental projects are headed by experts (Shavinina 2013). However, the management of this organization appreciates that the locals must be empowered to manage these projects once they are completed. They must have the right skills to maintain the new facilities being constructed for electricity production and water purification (Parris 2016). The organization has sent a number of its employees in a strategic position for further training both in the local and international institutions of higher learning. On-job training has also become common as the organization tries to equip them with the right skills (Ramos 2016). Some of the employees of this organization have benefitted from the innovation center put in place by the government to promote creativity among the locals and to improve their capacity to change with the changing environmental forces (Oxford Business Group 2015).

Technology has also become a major driver of training within this organization. DEWA is one of the institutions that have been receiving massive financial support from the government as one of the leading providers of social services (Mayer 2012). The interest to tap into the green energy industry has pushed this organization to embrace emerging technologies. Whenever new methods are introduced within every unit, the human resource department, working closely with the affected departments, often subjects the employees to regular training (Song & Chermack 2008). For instance, the employees of these organizations in the renewable energy department have gone through a series of training to enable them to deliver the desired output in their respective workplaces. The organization has also adopted emerging technologies to enhance the training of its employees. In 2016, the organization developed a training guide with 1,095 courses, some of which are taught in the e-classrooms, to help empower its employees (Maktoum 2017). E-learning has made it easy to reach out to the employees with relevant training materials without necessarily having them in a physical classroom (Ramos 2016).

According to Colombo (2014), the relationship between the top management of an organization can be either a driver or a constraint towards the training of the employees. Although significant improvement has been witnessed in this organization in the recent past, it is worth noting that the management has been partly a major hindrance in terms of promoting training among the employees (Prescott 2016). The relationship between the management unit and the employees can also be a major constraint in an organizational setting if the top leaders fail to understand and appreciate the needs of the junior employees. Balakrishnan (2017) says that top leaders are always in the best position to know when it is necessary to introduce new concepts through training because they regularly interact with the outside world. However, whenever it is necessary to introduce change, care must be taken to understand the current capabilities and limitations of the workforce (Vargas-Silva 2012). The training programs should focus on addressing the weaknesses of the employees about the emerging job requirements. However, the management system at the organization has made it difficult for the employees to interact effectively with the top management system (Tidd 2017). The structured system of management where employees have to communicate with their immediate supervisors when they have a concern limits the ability of the top leaders to understand issues that affect them and their capabilities. It means that sometimes the policies set at the top do not take into account the capabilities of these employees.

Learning Culture and Innovation

According to Omerzel and Jurdana (2016), learning as culture refers to the sustained practice that encourages individuals and organizations to increase their knowledge and competence with the aim of improving their performance. The workplace environment is changing due to the changes in technology and socio-economic sectors. The knowledge and skills relevant today may not be relevant in the future (Ren & Zhai 2014). Emerging technologies are bringing about new ways of undertaking various tasks efficiently and effectively than before. Successful organizations understand the need to embrace continuous learning as one of the ways of remaining sustainable. As Murad and Kichan (2016) admit, change is often an undesirable force. People prefer doing things in a given pattern that they are used to irrespective of changes in the environment. Unfortunately, change is one of the external environmental forces that an organization cannot ignore. When a time for change beckons, organizations and individual employees often have to embrace it at all costs. However, change can only be embraced if an organization embraces a learning culture (Pruzan 2016). It makes it possible for the employees to acquire the new skills and expertise needed to work under the new system.

Learning culture and innovation are often intertwined. As Castro et al. (2013) state, innovation involves coming up with new better ways of undertaking the current or future responsibilities. It involves understanding the current or emerging needs and finding the best ways of meeting them using the available resources. Sayigh (2014) says that innovation requires constant learning. Through learning programs, individual employees get to challenge their current capabilities as they aim to put to practice the new concepts acquired. They get to view the problems faced in their organization from a different perspective that enables them to come up with a better solution. Sayigh (2015) says that employees that do not acquire new knowledge consistently sometimes even fail to understand the existence of problems within their organizations until it is too late. Such rudderless employees tend to be more of liabilities than assets to an organization. They can easily make serious mistakes with devastating consequences to an organization without understanding what they did (Parris 2016). Companies such as Google and Microsoft, having understood the importance of learning culture in promoting innovation, have set up learning centers within their campuses to help in empowering their employees (Westeren & Westeren 2012). These companies are making heavy investments in the training programs with the view of ensuring that the skills of their employees are always aligned with the job requirement (Mallakh 2015).

Learning Culture and Innovation in UAE

The United Arab Emirates has registered impressive economic growth over the past two decades (Omerzel & Jurdana 2016). The government, working closely with the private sector, has been promoting the diversification of the local economy. The tourism, commerce, and transport sectors have greatly benefited from the diversification program spearheaded by the government. According to Morpeth and Hongliang (2015), the diversification of the economy has been promoted by investment in innovative programs. Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation was created to help promote learning culture and innovation within the country (Asher 2016). The center has created a platform where local organizations can improve the skills of their employees at this time when competition is getting stiff in various sectors of the economy (Neskakis 2012). Innovation must be natural, and there is no better way of doing it than creating a center where creative minds can meet. Ramos (2016) says that such centers make it possible for innovative people to share and improve their ideas. It makes it possible to transform ideas into actionable instructions.

Various excellence programs set up by the government are also designed to improve the learning culture and innovation in the country. The Dubai Government Excellence Program and Abu Dhabi Government Excellence Programs were specifically designed to ensure that both public and private organizations embrace continuous learning to overcome challenges in the market (Balakrishnan 2017). For instance, the Dubai Government Excellence Program seeks to promote creativity and innovation as part of an organizational lifestyle, emphasizing the fact that success is a journey that requires constant re-evaluation to determine if an entity is on the right path. The Abu Dhabi Government Excellence Program, on the other hand, focuses more on government entities and the strategies they use to achieve the set goals and objectives (Colombo 2014). Its vision is to become an international reference of excellence through innovation (Mayer 2012). Through this program, the government has ensured that employees in the public sector go through regular training to equip them with new skills. Many government entities are embracing learning culture and innovation in line with the requirements of these two excellence programs.

Learning Culture and Innovation at DEWA

DEWA is one of the companies in the United Arab Emirates currently under great pressure to embrace innovative ways of delivering service to its customers (Parris 2016). Dubai is currently the most populated of all the emirates in the country, and the current growth shows that the population is likely to increase. The pressure to meet water and electricity demand is increasing, and the management is keen on using new strategies to address these emerging challenges. Although the natural water reserves are limited in the country, the organization has unlimited access to seawater (Bielenia-Grajewska 2017). However, seawater cannot be of much use in that form unless it is processed. For a long time, DEWA has avoided the temptation to desalinate water from the sea for domestic and commercial use because of the high costs (James 2017). However, the increasing demand has left it with limited options. The organization is also spearheading the country’s move towards the use of renewable energy sources. These initiatives have been made possible because of the learning culture that the management has introduced.

DEWA’s Smart Initiatives are programs started by this organization to help promote creativity and innovation in meeting the demands of its customers. Shams Dubai is one of DEWA’s Smart Initiatives that focus on the production and use of clean energy in the country (Maktoum 2017). Through this program, the organization has embraced innovative ways of tapping solar and wind energy to produce electricity. Shams Dubai is a program meant to empower customers of this organization to produce their clean energy for domestic use (Kloep 2012). It means that other than promoting a learning culture among its employees, the organization is also empowering its customers through various educational programs (Mallakh 2015). Electric Vehicle Green Charger Initiative is another program that has promoted a learning culture in this organization (Colombo 2014). As part of its effort to reduce the use of fossil fuels, the organization has been keen on promoting green energy in the transport sector. It has been collaborating with some of the top electric companies in Japan and Germany to introduce electric cars in the country. Such initiatives require a continuous learning culture not only among its employees but also among the targeted customers (Mayer 2012). The employees need to understand the need to embrace such new technologies and the steps they need to make to ensure that they are part of the new trend towards a cleaner future.

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park is set to become the world’s largest single-site solar park (Balakrishnan 2017). The project, which is fully under the management of DAWA, is an outcome of the continuous creation of a learning and innovative culture within the organization. The knowledge gained by the employees of this organization and the commitment of its top management has led to the birth of this major project. It is a clear indication of the benefits of continuous learning of the employees and aligning their skills with the job requirements. Once completed, this project will help DEWA make a significant step towards reducing its reliance on fossil fuels (Brears 2017). Smart Applications is another major initiative of DEWA that depicts its learning culture and innovation. The organization understood the frustration that their customers go through when making their payments for water and electricity bills. Through its innovative culture, it came up with the smart application that allows its customers to make their payments and inquiries using hand-held devices (Maktoum 2017). These customers no longer have to visit the offices of this organization unless it is necessary (Balakrishnan 2017). They can use their smartphones to get their bills and initiate electronic payments in the comfort of their houses. The e-payment system, which was introduced by the organization after months of research, is set to make its service delivery to the customers more effectively than it has ever been in the organization’s history (Ramos 2016). The advancements made in service delivery mean that the organization and its employees are on a constant journey towards success where learning and innovation are highly cherished (Darvish & Nazari 2013). The fact that it is actively engaging its customers in the new initiatives shows its commitment towards transforming society, especially its customers, as we move to a world where technology and innovativeness define the ability to remain sustainable (Kloep 2012).

Theoretical Framework

The culture of learning and innovation is increasingly becoming relevant in the modern business environment. Scholars have developed various concepts and theories to help explain the need to embrace innovation and the manner in which organizations often adopt it (Dobni 2008). Looking at the theoretical concepts proposed by scholars in explaining learning and innovation culture in the workplace will make it possible to understand drivers and constraints of training in fostering learning culture and innovation. Diffusion of Innovation (DOI) Theory, which was developed in 1962 by Everett Rogers, best explains how people often embrace emerging technologies and new ideas (Westeren & Westeren 2012). It explains how new concepts often diffuse and gain momentum within a given social system. The theory holds that when promoting innovation, there are five categories of people often defined by their level of education and other factors (Sayigh 2014). Figure 1 below identifies the five categories of people.

Established adapter categories
Figure 1. Established adapter categories (Sayigh 2014)

As shown in the figure above, in the first category are the innovators. They are the minority, accounting for only 2.5% of the total population. They are people who are venturesome and keen on developing new ideas (Morpeth & Hongliang 2015). They often take calculated risks to come up with new concepts that can transform their organizations. The majority of the innovators strongly believe in a learning culture as a way of constantly improving their skills to match emerging job requirements. The next category is the early adopters, accounting for about 13.5% of the population. These people are always quick to embrace new trends and technologies as soon as they are convinced about their importance. Sayigh (2015) says that they are the opinion leaders who would influence other people to embrace the new concepts. The next category is the early majority. They do not hate change, but often prefer waiting to see the direction that it takes before embracing it. The late majority is another group who, like the early majority, prefer waiting to see the relevance of a new concept before embracing it, only that they wait for too long to benefit from such new strategies. The last group, which is the least desirable, is the laggards (Baycan 2016). These are conservatives, who are very skeptical about change. They rarely benefit from new concepts and always hate changing their normal practices.


According to Asher (2016), a review of the literature provides background information in a given study, allowing a researcher to understand what other scholars have found out on the topic. Other than helping in determining the knowledge gap, the review also makes it possible for a researcher to have an idea of what to expect out of research (Dobni 2010). It makes it easy to come up with hypotheses. Based on the information gathered in this chapter, the following are the hypotheses that the researcher will seek to verify using primary data that will be collected from the respondents:

  1. Academic qualification of employees and leaders, increasing demand, changing technologies, and government investment are the key drivers of training at DEWA.
  2. Societal culture, fear of change, and some management policies are the key constraints of training at DEWA.
  3. The management of DEWA, working closely with the government and the organization’s employees, can foster learning culture and innovation through training.

Research questions

When exploring drivers and constraints of training in fostering learning culture and innovation, it is important to develop research questions that will guide the entire research project. The research questions will define the kind of data that should be collected from the field (Bernard 2013). They will ensure that the set objectives are achieved by the end of the study. The following are the research questions that will be used in data collection:

  1. What are the drivers of training in fostering learning culture and innovation at DEWA?
  2. What are the constraints of training in fostering learning culture and innovation at DEWA?
  3. How can the management of DEWA overcome the challenges while taking advantage of the drivers to promote training, a learning culture, and innovation?

Proposed Model

The information from the review of the literature clearly shows that a number of forces exist that affect training within an organization. Effective training determines whether an organization can embrace learning culture and innovation. In this model, the researcher proposes that the moderator variables, intervening variables, and extraneous variables affect the influence of the independent variable (training), which in turn, affects the dependent variables (learning culture and innovation). Figure 2 below shows the relationship.

Proposed model

Proposed model
Figure 2. Proposed model

The variables proposed in model 2 above have been discussed in detail in chapter three of this paper.

Research Methodology

The focus of the previous chapter was to review the literature on this topic to develop a background in this research. In this chapter, the researcher will discuss the methods of research used to collect and analyze data. In this study, data will be collected from two main sources, which are primary and secondary sources. Secondary data will come from books, scholarly journal articles, and reliable online sources. Information from secondary sources, literature review, will provide a background for this study. On the other hand, primary data sources will be collected from a sample of respondents as discussed in this section (Bernard 2013). Primary data will make it possible to understand the current state of affairs regarding the issues under investigation. Information from both sources will inform the conclusion and recommendations that will be made in this research.

Research Philosophy

According to McNabb (2015), research philosophy refers to a belief about the most appropriate manner in which data should be collected, analyzed, and interpreted when investigating a phenomenon. The belief that should be embraced must be based on the objectives and nature of the research (Vargas-Silva 2012). Figure 2 below shows various philosophies that one can use based on the nature and goals of the research.

Research onion (Walliman 2016)
Figure 2. Research onion (Walliman 2016)

As shown in figure 2 above, a researcher may use positivism, realism, interpretivism, or pragmatism as the appropriate philosophy. Positivism is the philosophy, which holds that factual knowledge can only be gained through observation and measurement in an objective approach (Bernard 2013). It limits the role of a researcher to that of an observer who cannot influence the subjects under investigation. Realism holds the view that reality is independent of the human mind (Pruzan 2016). It emphasizes the fact that sometimes what a person thinks may not be the truth. Limited levels of education and experience, prejudice, and misinformation are all factors that may influence the validity of knowledge that one has. It is, therefore, important to embrace scientific approaches to come up with valid and trustworthy knowledge. Interpretivism holds the view that individuals are complex and unique and it may not be possible to have a situation where they view a given issue (Vargas-Silva 2012). It encourages social scientists to ensure that they view the world through the eyes of the actors to understand why they behave in a given manner when faced with specific forces (Prescott 2016). It is wrong, according to this philosophy, to have a general view of how people are expected to behave when faced with different forces. The above three philosophies are appropriate in various contexts of research, but not relevant in this study.

In this research, pragmatism will be the most appropriate philosophy that will make it possible to achieve the set aim and objectives. According to Vargas-Silva (2012), this philosophy holds that a given concept or piece of knowledge is considered true and acceptable only if it can support action. The philosophy holds the belief that there are many ways of viewing the world. The approach that is taken by one person may not be the same as the approach taken by the other (Card 2016). That is how diversified the current global society is, and it is important to embrace that diversity. One’s view of the world should not be dismissed on the basis that it does not follow a given conventional pattern (Walliman 2016). Instead, such a view or concept should be thoroughly investigated, and if it is capable of supporting an action, then it should be embraced. In an innovative environment, different people may come up with varying ways of solving a problem. Their views should be tested based on their practicality and relevance in an organizational context.

Measurement of Variables

In this research, a number of variables will be tested before making conclusions and recommendations for DEWA keen on promoting training in fostering a learning culture and innovation. The variables will be classified into the following categories:

  1. Dependent variables, which are forces directly affected by the independent variables. In the context of this paper, they include the learning culture and innovativeness of the employees
  2. Independent variables are forces, which directly influence the dependent variables. in this case, is the training of the employees and proper investment by this organization to promote creativity
  3. Intervening variables are forces or processes, which may not be directly observable, but link independent and dependent variables. In this case, they include the social culture in the society and beliefs towards technology.
  4. Moderator variables are forces, which influence the relationship between dependent and independent variables through modification of the intervening variables (Bernard 2013). In this case, the level of education and societal cohesion influence social culture and beliefs towards emerging technology. When people are highly knowledgeable, they are likely to embrace emerging new technology, and training them can be easier than when dealing with the less educated.
  5. Extraneous variables are independent forces (variables), which are not related, to the purpose of the study but have the capacity of affecting the dependent variables (McNabb 2015). Limited water sources, the increasing popularity of renewable energy sources, and the increasing population in the country are not related to the focus of this research. However, they influence the dependent variable by putting pressure on DEWA to increase its capacity.

Research Methods

According to Walliman (2016), when choosing the appropriate research method, it is important to understand the research aim and objectives. The chosen method should enable a researcher to achieve the set goals. Bernard (2013) says that to explore the drivers and constraints of training in fostering learning culture and innovation, a mixed research method would be the most appropriate design. Using both qualitative and quantitative methods will make it possible to have a comprehensive understanding of the concepts under investigation. The qualitative research method will enable the researcher to identify and explain specific drivers and constraints of training in fostering learning culture and innovation (Card 2016). Using the open-ended (unstructured) questions, it will be possible to request the respondents to explain their views concerning the issues being investigated. Quantitative methods will enable the researcher to explain the magnitude of the impact of the identified drivers and constraints of training in fostering learning culture and innovation at DEWA (Balakrishnan 2017). Using closed-ended (structured) questions, the responses obtained will be assigned statistical values to facilitate mathematical analysis.

Research Strategy

At this stage, it is necessary to define the research strategy that will be used in this project. After selecting the research philosophy, the research strategy will explain how primary how data will be collected from the respondents (Bernard 2013). In this study, the researcher will use two main strategies to collect primary data. The strategies will be the use of surveys and case studies.


One of the most important strategies that will be used in this study is a survey. This method will be used because it enables a researcher to engage respondents and determine their views towards issues being investigated. It will be important to collect data from the employees of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) to understand their experiences and views about the issues under investigation (Bernard 2013). Through this strategy, the researcher will engage the sampled respondents to understand the drivers and constraints of training in fostering learning culture and innovation at DEWA. The researcher chose this method because it will make it possible to engage the participants and collect current information on this topic based on their knowledge and experience (Bernard 2013). Data collected through this method can be analyzed statistically when the questions are given in a structured format. Statistical analysis is important in this research to determine the magnitude of the drivers and constraints.

Case study

Card (2016) defines a case study as comprehensive research that focuses on an in-depth analysis of a social unit of a society or specific situation as opposed to a sweeping statistical survey. This method was used because it offers a perfect real-life event that is related to the research topic. Five stages must be observed when using a case study (Mayer 2012). It starts with choosing the case relevant to the research. Then one must describe the events in the case. The third stage is to identify factors influencing the study. The next stage involves data processing, and the final stage is a recording of data. Case studies often present a perfect example of a scenario that is informative to the area under investigation (Walliman 2016). As explained in the literature review, DEWA is one of the public utility companies in Dubai that is under great pressure to embrace emerging technologies to meet the increasing demand for its services. Finding case studies about how this organization has been coping with the changing environmental forces will make it possible to understand the drivers and constraints of training. Studying the phenomena at this organization may reveal the fact that employees or leaders may want to hide as a way of protecting the impact of the organization.

Methods of Collecting Data


Primary data will be collected from a sample of respondents from DEWA. This instrument will be used because it harmonizes data collection from different respondents. An online survey will be conducted after identifying the participants. The researcher will develop a questionnaire as an instrument to be used in the data collection process. The questionnaire will have three main sections. The first section of the questionnaire will capture the demographical factors of the respondents (James 2017). That will include their gender and state of residency. Any biased learning towards these demographical factors will be captured in that space. The second section of the questionnaire will focus on the academic qualifications and experience of the respondents. Walliman (2016) says that one’s level of education and experience often defines his or her expert authority to make a statement over a given issue. The last section of the questionnaire will primarily focus on the drivers and constraints of training in fostering learning culture and innovation. In this mixed-method research, a case study will be another approach used in collecting data, as explained above.

Population and sample

The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, which is one of the most important public utility companies in the country, has over 9,000 employees (James 2017). It would be appropriate to collect data from all of them to get their views about drivers and constraints of training within their organization. However, the limited time makes it necessary to have a smaller manageable sample from which data can be collected within the available time. The researcher intends to use the Morgan formula shown in figure 3 below to determine the appropriate sample size for the study (Card 2016). Given that the population is finite, the following formula will be used:

Morgan formula
Figure 3. Morgan formula (Walliman 2016)


S- Sample size required
X- Value of confidence level
N- Size of the population
P- Proportion of the population (always expressed as percentage or decimal)
d- Level of accuracy or the margin of error

Sample size = {1.96²×9000×0.5(1-0.5)} ÷ {0.05²(9000-1) + 1.96²×0.5 (1-0.5)
= 8643.6÷23.4579
= 368.47

It means the sample size will be 368 participants

Data Analysis

After collecting data from primary sources, the next important process will be the analysis. As Bernard (2013) says, when analyzing primary data, the approach used should be in line with the philosophy and research strategy selected. The analysis of primary data will be done both qualitatively and quantitatively. Qualitative data analysis will be done to help explain why and how various factors are drivers or constraints of training within this organization (Tidd 2017). The respondents taking part in this project have been working with this organization for some time, and they understand these drivers and constraints. Through qualitative methods, they will be asked to explain their experiences regarding training and factors that facilitated or hindered such processes. In each case, they will be requested to explain why each of the factors identified as a driver or a constraint (Pruzan 2016). The approach is important because one factor can be either a driver or a constraint. For instance, the management strategy can be a driver or a constraint towards training. When the strategy stresses employee empowerment through regular training as a way of improving their output, it is considered a driver (Pandey & Upadhyay 2016). However, if the strategy ignores the need to train employees regularly, instead emphasizing the need to invest in other developmental projects, then it will be considered a barrier to training. That is why during qualitative analysis, special emphasis will be laid on understanding the specific experiences of the respondents. Quantitative analysis will facilitate understanding the magnitude of each of the drivers and constraints of training. Some of the drivers and constraints are more significant compared with others (Card 2016). Their level of significance can be best captured through quantitative data analysis. Using both methods of analysis will provide a comprehensive approach towards understanding drivers and constraints of training on fostering learning culture and innovation at DEWA.

Ethical Issues

When conducting research, Walliman (2016) emphasizes the need to remain ethical at every stage of the project. Ethics starts by observing the rules and regulations set by the school regarding research projects. One of the most important regulations is that an academic researcher should not reproduce information presented by other scholars, as that would amount to plagiarism (Neskakis 2012). The researcher will ensure that information presented in this document is original. Any information taken from other sources will be appropriately cited using Harvard referencing style. It is also a requirement that such academic projects must be completed within the set timeline for it to be awarded points. The researcher will make an effort to ensure that the project is completed within the set deadline.

According to Bernard (2013), a researcher is also expected to observe a certain code of conduct when collecting data. Given the fact that information will have to be collected from a specific organization, which in this case was DEWA, it will be important to get permission from the relevant authorities (Mayer 2012). The researcher intends to make an official request to the management to allow their employees to take part in this study. The employees will only be contacted after getting permission from the relevant authority. All the respondents will be informed about the relevance of this project and the role they are expected to play. They will be informed about their ability to withdraw from the study at any time without having to justify their reasons for doing so (Vargas-Silva 2012). Finally, the researcher will ensure that the identity of the respondents remains anonymous. Given the sensitivity of this research, it will be necessary to protect the respondents so that they are not castigated because of their different opinions.

Expected Outcome and Contribution

This research is expected to shed light on the major drivers and constraints of training in fostering learning culture and innovation. DEWA is currently faced with the challenging task of meeting the increasing demand for clean water for domestic and industrial use as the city of Dubai continues to expand (Asher 2016). It is also critical to ensure that it reduces reliance on natural gas and diesel in the production of electricity in line with the country’s vision 2021. However, it will only be possible to achieve these goals if it can embrace learning culture and innovation, which can be fostered through training (Colombo 2014).

  • The study will help this organization to understand forces that promote and those that hinder training. The management can act upon these forces to ensure that the organization embraces the culture of innovation.
  • The study will also help this organization to understand how to monitor and act upon emerging trends by streamlining the skills of the employees.
  • It is expected that this study will make a major contribution to knowledge by determining how DEWA is currently dealing with forces of change in the quest to meet the demands of its clients.


Change is a strong force that an organization cannot ignore, especially in the current competitive business environment. Learning culture and innovation is critical in enabling an organization to manage these changes and to remain relevant in the market by delivering high-quality products. However, innovation culture must be cultivated among the employees (Baycan 2016). They need to be empowered so that they can think creatively when faced with challenges in their respective workplaces. Many companies are now embracing training as a means of fostering learning culture and innovation. The government has also shown its commitment to improving innovation in the country (Brears 2017). Many local employees have benefited from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation that was put up by the government in 2014 to promote creativity and innovation among the youth. It is clear that the level of innovation among employees in this country is higher than that of others in the MENA region (James 2017). It shows the commitment of the members of this society to take advantage of the drivers of innovation while at the same time trying to overcome constraints that exist such as cultural issues. Public entities in the United Arab Emirates need to understand the significance of training as a means of empowering their employees (Maktoum 2017). The study will primarily focus on DEWA as one of the public utility companies in the country keen on meeting increasing market demand through innovative strategies.

Reference List

Abu Dhabi Education Council 2010, Education first: 2010 statistical fact-book, Emirates of Abu Dhabi, Al Ghurai, Abu Dhabi.

Ali, M., & Park, K. (2016). ‘The mediating role of an innovative culture in the relationship between absorptive capacity and technical and non-technical innovation’, Journal of Business Research, vol. 69, no. 1, pp. 1669-166.

Asher, L 2016, Culture shock! Dubai, Marshall Cavendish International, New York, NY.

Balakrishnan, S 2017, UAE: public policy perspectives, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley.

Baycan, T 2016, Sustainable city and creativity: promoting creative urban initiatives, Routledge, New York, NY.

Bernard, H 2013, Social research methods: qualitative and quantitative approaches, SAGE Publications, Los Angeles, CA.

Bielenia-Grajewska, M 2017, Innovative perspectives on tourism discourse, IGI Global, Hershey, PA.

Brears, R 2017, Urban water security, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ.

Brettel, M & Cleven, N 2011, ‘Innovation culture, collaboration with external partners and NPD performance’, Creativity and Innovation Management, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 253-266.

Card, 2016, Applied meta-analysis for social science research, The Guilford Press, New York, NY.

Castro, G, Delgado-Verde, M, Navas-López, J & Cruz-González, J 2013, ‘The moderating role of innovation culture in the relationship between knowledge assets and product innovation’, Technological Forecasting & Social Change, vol. 80, no. 1, pp. 251-363.

Claire, J, Duncan, A & Niamh, C 2014, ‘Innovation and skills: implications for the agri-food sector’, Education + Training, vol. 56, no. 4, pp.271-286.

Clark, D 2013, Transforming the culture of dying: the work of the project on death in America, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Cnaan, A & Vinokur-Kaplan, D 2014, Cases in innovative nonprofits: organizations that make a difference, SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Colombo, S 2014, Bridging the Gulf: EU-GCC relations at a crossroads, Edizioni Nuova, London.

Darvish, H & Nazari, E 2013, ‘Organizational learning culture – the missing link between innovative culture and innovations, case study: Saderat Bank of Iran’, Economic Insights, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 1-6.

Dawson, P & Andriopoulos, C 2014, Managing change, creativity, & innovation, SAGE Publications Ltd, London.

Della, C, Scott, J & Hinton, C 2012, Languages in a global world: learning for better cultural understanding, OECD, Paris.

Dobni, B 2008, ‘Measuring innovation culture in organizations: the development of a generalized innovation culture construct using exploratory factor analysis’, European Journal of Innovation Management, vol. 11, no. 4, pp.539-559.

Dobni, B 2010, ‘Achieving synergy between strategy and innovation: the key to value creation’, International Journal of Business Science and Applied Management, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 49-57.

Eidizadeh, R, Salehzadeh, R & Esfahani, C 2017, ‘Analyzing the role of business intelligence, knowledge sharing and organizational innovation on gaining a competitive advantage’, Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 29, no. 4, pp.250-267.

Gibson, R 2015, The 4 lenses of innovation: a power tool for creative thinking, Wiley, Hoboken, NJ.

Hasan, Z 2012, Shari’ah governance in Islamic banks, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.

Høyrup, S 2012, Employee-driven innovation: a new approach, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, NY.

Information Resources Management Association 2017, Organizational culture and behavior: concepts, methodologies, tools, and applications, Information Science Reference, Hershey, PA.

James, A 2017, Work-life advantage, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ.

Jockenhofer, M 2013, How to promote entrepreneurship within established companies, Anchor Academic Publishing, London.

Kersten, W, Blecker, T & Ringle, C 2014, Innovative methods in logistics and supply chain management: current issues and emerging practices, Epubli GmbH, Berlin.

Kloep, M 2012, Managed equipment services as a conceptual business opportunity model for the GCC with focus on UAE: an institutional and economic analysis, McMillan, London.

Linke, A & Zerfass, 2011, ‘Internal communication and innovation culture: developing a change framework’, Journal of Communication Management, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 332-348.

Maktoum, M 2017, Reflections on happiness & positivity, Explorer Publishing & Distribution, Dubai.

Mallakh, R 2015, The economic development of the United Arab Emirates: RLE economy of Middle East, Routledge, New York, NY.

Mann, A, Watt, G & Matthews, P 2013, The innovative CIO: how it leaders can drive business transformation, APress, Austin, TX.

Mayer, C 2012, World right side up investing across six continents, Wiley Publishers, Hoboken, NJ.

McNabb, D 2015, Research methods for political science: quantitative and qualitative methods, M.E. Sharpe, New York, NY.

Morpeth, D & Hongliang, Y 2015, Planning for tourism: towards a sustainable future, Cengage, New York, NY.

Murad, A & Kichan, P 2016, ‘The mediating role of an innovative culture in the relationship between absorptive capacity and technical and non-technical innovation’, Journal of Business Research, vol. 69, no. 1, pp. 1669-1675.

Neskakis, L 2012, Technology transfer from South African technology stations to their sme clients: a case study of the twelve technology stations, Logos, Berlin.

Obeidat, B, Masa’deh, R & Abdallah, 2014, ‘The relationships among human resource management practices, organizational commitment, and knowledge management processes: a structural equation modeling approach’, International Journal of Business and Management, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 9-20.

Omerzel, D & Jurdana, D 2016, ‘The influence of intellectual capital on innovativeness and growth in tourism smes: empirical evidence from Slovenia and Croatia’, Economic Research-Ekonomska Istraživanja, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 1075-1090.

Oxford Business Group 2015, The report: Abu Dhabi 2015, Oxford Publishers, London.

Pandey, K & Upadhyay, P 2016, Promoting global peace, and civic engagement through education, IGI Global, Hershey, PA.

Pantouvakis, A & Bouranta, N 2017, ‘Agility, organizational learning culture and relationship quality in the port sector’, Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, vol. 28, no. 3, pp. 366-378.

Park, K, Song, H, Yoon, S & Kim, J 2013, ‘Learning organization and innovative behavior: the mediating effect of work engagement’, European Journal of Training and Development, vol. 38, no. 1, pp. 75-94.

Parris, M 2016, Ecology of urban environments, Wiley Blackwell, Hoboken, NJ.

Pickering-Iazzi, R 2017, The Italian antimafia, new media, and the culture of legality, University of Toronto Press, Toronto.

Prescott, J 2016, Handbook of research on race, gender, and the fight for equality, Information Science Reference, Hershey, PA.

Pruzan, P 2016, Research methodology: the aims, practices and ethics of science, Cengage, London.

Ramos, S 2016, Dubai amplified: the engineering of port geography, Routledge, London.

Ratten, V, Braga, V & Marques, C 2017, Knowledge, learning and innovation: research insights on cross-sector collaborations, Cengage, New York, NY.

Ren, F & Zhai, J 2014, Communication and popularization of science and technology in China, Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ.

Sayigh, A 2014, Sustainability, energy and architecture, Academic Press, New York, NY.

Sayigh, A 2015, Sustainable high rise buildings in urban zones, Wiley Blackwell, Hoboken, NJ.

Sharifirad, M & Ataei, V 2012, ‘Organizational culture and innovation culture: exploring the relationships between constructs’, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, vol. 33, no. 5, pp. 494-517.

Shavinina, L 2013, The Routledge international handbook of innovation education, Cengage Learning, New York, NY.

Sheehan, M, Garavan, T & Carbery, R 2014, ‘Innovation and human resource development (HRD)’, European Journal of Training and Development, vol. 3, no 1, pp.2-14.

Skerlavaj, M, Song, H & Lee, Y 2010, ‘Organizational learning culture, innovative culture and innovations in South Korean firms’, Expert Systems with Applications, vol. 37, no. 9, pp. 6390-6403.

Song, H & Chermack, T 2008, ‘A theoretical approach to the organizational knowledge formation process: integrating the concepts of individual learning and learning organization culture’, Human Resource Development Review, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 424-442.

Spanos, Y 2009, ‘Innovation adoption: an integrative model’, Spoudai, vol. 59, no 1-2, pp. 100-124.

Tidd, J 2017, Promoting innovation in new ventures and small- and medium-sized enterprises, Cengage Learning, New York, NY.

Vargas-Silva, C 2012, Handbook of research methods in migration, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham.

Walliman, N 2016, Social research methods: the essentials, Sage Publications, London.

Wang, C & Ahmed, P 2016, ‘The development and validation of the organizational innovativeness construct using confirmatory factor analysis’, European Journal of Innovation Management, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 303-313.

Westeren, K & Westeren, K 2012, Foundations of the knowledge economy: innovation, learning, and clusters, Edward Elgar, London.

Yu, Y, Dong, X, Shen, K, Khalifa, M & Hao, J 2013, ‘Strategies, technologies, and organizational learning for developing organizational innovativeness in emerging economies’, Journal of Business Research, vol. 66, no. 1, pp. 2507-2514.