Overview of Organization
The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs Dubai (GDRFA) is a government agency within the Ministry of Interior which is primarily responsible for the regulation of the entry and exit of international travelers and residency of foreign nationals (Singarum 2015). Dubai is currently one of the top destinations for international travelers coming to the country as tourists or en route to other parts of the world. It is the responsibility of this organization to ensure that only those people with legal documents get into and out of the country. This department has the mandate to ensure that ports within the United Arab Emirates are not used by people dealing in contraband goods. It works closely with law enforcement officers to safeguard the country’s airports and sea ports from any threat that may come from individuals or groups considered dangerous to the country’s stability or safety of its people. As an autonomous entity operating under the Ministry of Interior, GDRFA has a team of highly dedicated employees and a clear organizational structure that shows the flow of command from the top leadership to the junior most employees. The figure below shows the organizational structure of this organization.
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As shown in the figure above, this organization is headed by Director of General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs Dubai. The director is fully responsible for all the operational activities that take place in this firm. Under the director is the deputy director who is responsible for the supervision of the departmental heads. There are eight departments within this organization. They include Naturalization Affairs, Offender Follow-up, Seaports Access, and External Services Center. Others include Airport and Border Access, Entry Permit and Residency, e-Services, and Human Resources and Financial Resources Department (Maktūm 2013).
The mission of this organization is to ensure that the United Arab Emirates is safe despite the high number of foreign nationals that it receives on a regular basis. Its mission is “to work efficiently and effectively towards enhancing the quality of life in the UAE community by providing security, traffic, reform, residency services and ensuring safety of lives and properties” (Singarum 2015, p. 45). To achieve its mission, this firm needs to understand the emerging changes in the external environment. The top management must ensure that this firm responds to these external forces by aligning its internal environment with the changes taking place within this industry. The aim of this study is to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of GDRFA in implementation of innovation practices.
Description of Assessment Framework
Innovation at the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs Dubai
The General Directorate of Residency and Foreign Affairs Dubai has a critical role of not only protecting the country’s economy from contraband goods but also ensuring that the country remains safe. According to Kuratko (2016), the United Arab Emirates has experienced a long period of political stability despite the ongoing wars that have been witnessed in other parts of the region. Yemen, Iraq, and Syria are currently experiencing civil wars forcing their nationals to seek refuge in other countries in the region. ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other terror groups are believed to be strong in parts of the Middle East. These organizations pose serious threat to the security of the United States. Dubai has become one of the dominant tourists’ destinations in the world, attracting people from North America, Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa. Tourists may be the target of these tourists, especially those coming from the West. It is the responsibility of this organization to ensure that visitors who come to the country as tourists, businessmen, academicians, or general workers are protected from any form of aggression by these extremists. The local Emirati citizens and the properties of people of this country must also be protected.
It is the mandate of GDRFA to ensure that sea ports and airports of the United Arab Emirates are not used by drug traffickers and human traffickers to facilitate their business. According to Kuratko (2016), human trafficking is becoming a major problem in the Middle East. Countries such as Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia have become major destination for unskilled and semi-skilled people from the developing economies. Some of those who come to these countries are treated as slaves with limited rights compared with the locals. It is the responsibility of GDRFA to ensure that such businesses are effectively eradicated from the country. Drug traffickers who use the country’s airport to enable them transport their illegal products to the international markets should also be stopped by the officers of this organization. However, Kuratko (2016) says that some of the people trading in contraband goods have become very creative, using sophisticated methods to ensure that they escape authorities. Sometimes it is almost impossible for the officers to detect drugs that pass through the airports because of the sophisticated approach used by the drug cartels to conceal their tracks. GDRFA has met a number of challenges trying to deal with modern-day drug cartels and other illegal businesses using the sea ports and airports to facilitate their trade.
GDRFA will need to embrace innovation as a way of overcoming the challenges it is facing. According to Kuratko, and Hornsby and Covin (2014), the emerging changes in the external environment require high level of creativity and innovativeness to overcome them. A firm must be capable of coming up with new ways of addressing challenges that it faces in its operations. As mentioned in the section above, this organization is operating in a very challenging environment and it has a huge responsibility of protecting the country. Failure to operate in an effective and efficient manner may mean that the borders of the country will be used by enemies of the state to achieve their personal interests.
The management of GDRFA must be ready to always come up with new ways of detecting illegal goods such as drugs and illegal firearms finding their ways through the airports. As Kuratko (2016) says, the border and port management authorities must also be capable of identifying criminals, especially terrorists, trying to enter the country. Currently, the political instability in some of the regional has resulted in huge number of people coming to the United Arab Emirates as refugees. It is possible for terrorists to pose as refugees and find their way into the country. Through innovation, the organization will be capable of determining the genuine refugees who need protection and criminals who should be deported back to their countries because of the danger they may pose to the government.
According to Kuratko, and Hornsby and Covin (2014), innovation within an organization requires commitment from the highest level of management to the junior-most employee within the firm. Innovation involves thinking creatively and coming up with a new and better method of addressing a given problem within an organization. In some cases, innovation is driven by the top managers. Given their exposure to the external environment and their strategic approach to addressing issues that affect the organization, they tend to think creatively to improve efficiency and effectiveness of their firm’s operations. However, Kuratko (2016) says that most of the times it is the employees who often drive innovation within a firm.
Junior employees often have designated area of work, which means that they have a routine. The fact that they specialize on a specific area makes it easy for them to think creatively and come up with a better approach of handling their tasks. For instance, GDRFA who are responsible for inspecting the cargo at the airport know about the challenges they face at work and the new approaches that people are currently using to escape the law. They are in a better position to think of a creative way of overcoming these challenges than the managers who spend most of their time in office. All they need is the support from the top management unit as they try to be creative in addressing these challenges in a creative manner. Successful firms such as Apple Inc, Microsoft Corporation, and Samsung have learnt that the power of innovativeness lies with the employees. As such, these firms have created a good environment for innovation to help their employees develop their creative ideas into actionable strategies. GDRFA can do the same to ensure that creativity and innovativeness are part of change management at the firm.
Analysis of Internal Environment for Corporate Entrepreneurship
According to Kuratko, Hornsby, and Covin (2014, p. 39), “one of a manager’s controllable areas of corporate entrepreneurship is creating a work environment highly conducive to innovation and entrepreneurial behaviors.” Creating such an environment requires a firm to address a number of issues that involve leadership within an organizational context. There are five areas of analysis of internal environment for corporate entrepreneurship. They include organizational boundaries, time availability, rewards/reinforcements, work discretion, and management support. Each of these five factors is very important in ensuring that a form embraces innovative strategies that can help it achieve the desired level of success in the market. In this project, the researcher was interested in determining how GDRFA-Dubai performs in each of the five areas. The information needed had to be collected from the current employees of this firm. The researcher sought for permission from the management of this organization before identifying the respondents. A latter was written and hand-delivered to the management of GDRFA-Dubai. The researcher explained that this was a purely academic research. The management gave approval needed to conduct the primary research.
Time was an important factor both to the employees of this firm and the researcher. It was necessary to sample a sizable number of employees instead of using the entire population. The researcher used stratified sampling method to select the participants. This sampling method was considered appropriate because of the need to collect data from those in managerial positions and employees in non-managerial posts. In each stratum, the researcher used simple random sampling to select participants. A total of 40 participants were sampled to take part in this study. However, data was collected from 33 of the 40 respondents. Seven participants could not take part in the study because of the official duties they had to undertake at the time the researcher was collecting data. The researcher developed a questionnaire to help in collecting data. The questionnaire was administered through a face-to-face interview that was conducted at the premises of this organization. This form of data collection was considered appropriate because it allows the researcher to clarify the questions to the respondents whenever it was necessary.
The researcher used structured questions to collect quantitative data. It was necessary because a quantitative method of data analysis was chosen for the study. As mentioned above, there are five areas within an organizational setting that define how innovative a firm can be in achieving success in its operations. In this section, the study focused on how well this firm performed in each of them. Quantitative methods were the best way of measuring that performance. The responses obtained were coded and then entered into the excel spreadsheet. The researcher was interested in the average score in each of the five areas of internal environment at GDRFA-Dubai. It would make it possible to identify areas where this firm is performing well and areas of weaknesses that immediate attention is needed to enhance the organization’s performance. The graph below shows the results obtained from this analysis.
The graph above shows how the respondents feel this firm has performed in each of the five internal environmental factors on a scale of 1-5. The outcome above will facilitate a detailed analysis of these internal factors and how they influence innovation.
Top management support
According to a study conducted by Kuratko, and Hornsby and Covin (2014), it was established that there is a direct relationship between management’s support and an organization’s innovativeness. The top managers are responsible for approving important projects and providing funds needed for the implementation. Junior employees may come up with new ways of addressing given tasks, but it is the role of the top managers to provide a platform where such ideas can be developed into actionable strategies. Carvalho (2016) says that management plays four main roles in enhancing an innovative environment within an organization. Their first role is motivating employees to be creative and innovative in everything that they do. Employees often try to please the top managers in all that they do in an attempt to climb career ladder or just to protect their businesses. As such, they will focus majorly on activities that will get approval of the top managers.
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The management can motivate these employees to be innovative by encouraging them to try new methods of addressing different tasks. The second way of promoting innovative environment is to provide the needed resources to transform an idea into an actionable plan. New ideas often emerge, but not all of them can be implemented to give the desired outcome. It is the responsibility of the top managers to provide resources that can be used to screen ideas and develop them into strategies. Many firms are now creating incubation centers where new ideas are screened and developed. The management is also an important link between the firm and external environment. While most of the time junior employees spend their time within the premises of the organization, top managers get to travel the world and experience new ways in which similar organizations are running their activities. Sharing their experiences with relevant employees may make them see things differently in their places of work. It enables employees to appreciate that there are alternative ways of undertaking their duties within the firm.
The fourth and most important role of the managers in promoting innovation is their role as the drivers of change. Change is the force that drives innovation and firms cannot ignore it if they want to survive. Eastman Kodak is the best example of the role of leader in promoting change and the dangers associated with avoiding change. The company was once the market leader in the film industry, controlling over 80% of the global market. Its employees came up with the digital film technology as a new product that would be more popular in the market than the traditional films that had been in use for several decades. However, the management decided to ignore this innovative product. Other rivals companies such as Fujifilm embraced the new technology and soon became the market leaders in this industry. Eastman Kodak was almost forced out of a market that it once controlled. It had to rely on a bailout to ensure that its operations are not stopped. The management feared change and deliberately stopped the firm from moving ahead into a new technology. The management is responsible for approving major changes and when they decide to reject an innovative idea, junior employees may have nothing but to accept their decision.
It was against this background that the researcher decided to determine if the top management at GDRFA-Dubai supports innovation. The respondents were asked to rate the support of the top managers towards creating innovative environment on a scale of 1-5. The researcher obtained an average score of the response given by the participants. According to the average score (3.74), the management of GDRFA-Dubai is keen on creating an innovating environment. Of the five areas of internal environmental factors, top management support scored second highest, which means that employees of this firm feel that the management is keen on promoting innovation. Most of the respondents stated that at this organization, the top managers often encourage employees to be innovative.
The firm has embraced an open-door policy where employees can easily interact with top managers in case there is an issue that is of relevance to the top managers. This approach of communication has motivated employees to think creatively because they are aware that the management will listen to them. They know that the management considers them to be critical component of the firm’s overall success. The interviewed employees also stated that the management has created an environment where they can share new ideas as peers before presenting it to the relevant offices. It means that if an employee comes with a new idea, he or she can share it with fellow employees to help polish it before sharing the idea with top managers.
A score of 3.74 is fairly good, given that it is above average. However, it also shows that the respondents feel there are some issues that have not been addressed, making it impossible to give the management a score of 4.5 and above out of the possible 5. The respondents noted that there are some areas that the management has not performed as would be expected to motivate innovation. One of the issues raised by the employees is exposure. The management has not done enough to ensure that its employees are exposed to other working environments similar to theirs in other parts of the world. Having the opportunity of seeing what others do in other parts of the world may be the force that one needs to think creatively and come up with new approaches of undertaking their duties. Others also felt that the management has focused more on the moral support than financial support to motivate creativity. Sometimes the management takes time to approve funds that would help in implementing a new idea that has been developed by the employees. If these issues can be addressed, it is likely that GDRFA-Dubai would be a more innovative firm than it currently is when addressing the new challenges it faces.
Work discretion is one of the most important factors that define how innovative a firm can be in its operations. When trying something new, it is obvious that failure is a possibility. In fact, Carvalho (2016) says that when one tries to do something for the first time, he or she may fail several times before getting breakthrough. Some of the top innovators that invented many things which are currently in use failed several times before being successful. An organization that wants its employees to succeed must be ready to tolerate failure. If such an organization does not tolerate failure, then it means that employees will be forced to stick to a given standard way of approaching specific tasks. One of the biggest killers of creativity and innovativeness is conforming to the norms.
When employees are forced to conform to the norms, it means that they are denied opportunity to come up with new ideas that can help achieve better success. Apple Inc and Samsung are currently the dominant players in the field of electronics. A study by Kuratko (2016) found out that these two firms have embraced innovation by accepting failure as a possibility in its operations. These firms understand that when trying to be creative, one can make a genuine mistake that was not foreseen when coming up with the idea. The importance of work discretion made it necessary for the researcher to determine its score in this firm. As shown in the graph above, the respondents gave it a score of 3.45 out of 5, which is the least score of all the five areas that were analyzed.
It was determined that at GDRFA-Dubai, failure is not tolerated because of the nature of activities involved. Employees of this organization have to ensure that illegal products and unauthorized people do not get into the country through the airports and sea ports. Dubai is rapidly becoming a major global business and tourists hub. This organization plays a critical role in ensuring that it remains safe for the local and international businessmen and tourists. Any failure on the part of the employees may mean that illegal goods or immigrants get into the country. Sometimes the illegal immigrants may be terrorists keen on causing harm and destruction within the country.
The management, therefore, does not tolerate any failure. The nature of activities undertaken within this firm makes it understandable why failure is not an option. Even when trying to embrace a new approach of inspecting goods and people at the ports, it is very important for this organization to avoid any failure as a way of keeping the country safe. Work discretion also means that employees are freed from excessive oversights. Carvalho (2016) says that excessive oversight limits the ability of employees to think freely because every time they try to deviate from the standard practice, the supervisor always reminds them to stick to the set procedures. Such oversights turn employees into machines incapable of thinking independently. In such an environment, employees cannot be innovative. The respondents noted that excessive oversight is a common issue they face at work.
Delegating authorities to junior employees also help in promoting creativity. When junior employees are assigned responsibilities that require them to think and make decisions independently, they tend to be creative (Kuratko 2016). The respondents felt that GDRFA-Dubai has registered a fairly good performance when it comes to delegation of responsibilities. Such delegation of tasks promotes entrepreneurial opportunities within the organization. It makes junior managers and non-managerial staff to have better decision-making skills. When faced with a dilemma at work, such employees are likely to make better decision compared with workers who often have to consult their superiors whenever they are making any critical decisions.
Promoting entrepreneurial behavior sometimes requires the use of rewards or other forms of reinforcement within an organizational setting. According to Kuratko, and Hornsby and Covin (2014), innovation means embracing change within an organizational setting. However, many people often fear change. As such, using reinforcements may be necessary to motivate employees so that they can think creatively and be capable of embracing change whenever it is necessary. In some cases, innovation may involve taking calculated risks. Not everyone has entrepreneurial spirit that would motivate them to take such risks knowing that there might be consequences in case events do not go as per the plan. When faced with such challenges that higher innovation, successful firms tend to use rewards and reinforcement to encourage their employees to overcome fear and try new methods even if success is not guaranteed. It was necessary to determine the score of this firm on this internal environmental factor. The score was 3.79, the highest of all the five internal factors.
At GDRFA-Dubai, employees are often rewarded for their exceptional work. The respondents stated that employees often meet challenges that are completely new, which require them to use their creativity to address. A good example is a case where people swallow drugs concealed in special bags so that they can pass the airports without being detected. Employees of this organization have been rewarded in the past for having identified such traffickers by simply looking into the coloration of their eye and abnormal body movement. These are unique cases that cannot be addressed using the normal standards and procedures put in place by the management. Currently there is a new problem of refugees coming from countries which have been under control of terror groups such as ISIS. The United Arab Emirates is one of the safest countries in the region in terms of political stability. This organization is currently charged with the important responsibility of ensuring that as it admits refugees feeling the war in their countries, radicalized individuals are not allowed into the country because of the threat they pose. It will require highly talented and fairly experienced employees to identify possible terror suspects because in normal cases they will masquerade as innocent refugees. The organization often rewards employees who come up with ways of addressing such challenges in a very innovative manner.
According to Carvalho (2016), creativity and innovation that comes from employees require time as a factor that drives it. When employees are under their normal schedule at work, they may not have time to come up with new ideas because of the need to meet the set targets. They have to ensure that their assignments are completed in time and that they meet the deadline as set by their superiors. It is, therefore, necessary for the management to create time for the employees to enable them pursue innovations when they are off duty. Some firms are currently allowing their employees to spend one hour or less at work reviewing what they have done and what can be introduce to achieve a better outcome. Within that time, employees are enabled to think creatively and even make mistakes without facing any consequences because they are off duty. The researcher asked the respondents to rate their organization in terms of how much time they have off their official work within the firm to pursue innovation. As shown in the graph above, the score was 3.55.
Most of the respondents stated that the nature of their work leaves little time to spend because of the sensitivity of the workplace. Sometimes employees are forced to work for extra hours, especially during the holidays when the city of Dubai receives numerous tourists from all over the world. The space is another issue at workplace that limits time that employees can take in the workplace after their official duties. These are the factors that have pushed this firm to have limited time that employees have after their official duties within the firm. Limited availability of time for employees to pursue innovations was identified as a major setback in the creation of an innovative workplace environment at GDRFA-Dubai. The employees interviewed admitted that the management has tried to create time for the employees to engage in innovative activities.
Organizational boundaries also define the innovativeness of an environment within which employees work. According to Kuratko, and Hornsby and Covin (2014), some firms have strict policies that require employees to follow strict channel of communication. Employees are forced to go through their supervisors to ensure that they can communicate with the top managers. On the other hand, other firms have organizational structure that allows occasional interaction between top managers and junior employees. Innovation thrives in an environment where junior employees can occasionally interact with the top managers. When the participants were asked to rate GDRFA-Dubai, they gave a score of 3.49 which was one of the least. Some employees stated that in most of the cases top managers rarely interact with junior workers at this firm. In fact, others stated that it is only during annual celebrations that they get to interact with top managers. In such occasion, it is almost impossible for these managers to interact at personal level with the junior employees. Most of the respondents felt that this was another significant cause of limited innovativeness at this firm.
Assessment of the Organization
In the above analysis, it is clear that GDRFA-Dubai is fully aware of the challenges it is facing in its operations in the country. The management is also conscious of the need to embrace technology as a way of addressing these challenges. The analysis shows that there are things the firm is doing right and there are other things which it is not doing right. SWOT analysis can help in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of this organization as it tries to overcome the challenges in its operations.
GDRFA-Dubai is currently ranked as one of the most efficient agencies in the world in the management of sea ports and airports. The management of this organization has been keen on promoting innovation as a way of achieving corporate success. One of the areas that this firm has recorded impressive success in promoting innovation is in the use of rewards and reinforcements. As shown in the CEAI measure in the graph above, the firm registered a score of 3.79. Employees felt that the management is keen on rewarding those who show exceptional performance through creativity in their work. The use of rewards and reinforcements was considered an appropriate way of maintaining high level of motivation among employees in this firm. The rewards motivate the employees because they are aware their efforts will always be rewarded. Reinforcements on the other hand give them an assurance that although new approaches may be challenging, the top managers will always offer their support to the employees at all times.
In the analysis, it was also clear that the respondents were satisfied with the level of support they receive from the top management of this firm after giving it a score of 3.74. To develop an innovative workplace environment, top managers need to support junior employees by making available necessary resources that they may need. The management also needs to offer employees opportunity to interact amongst themselves and with the top managers to help in developing new ideas into actionable plans. GDRFA-Dubai has registered impressive performance in this area of management.
The analysis of GDRFA-Dubai conducted above shows that although the management has done a lot to ensure that it promotes an innovative environment, there are issues that are yet to be effectively addressed. These weaknesses are the major reasons why a perfectly innovative corporate environment is still lacking in this organization. Work discretion, which scored an average of 3.45, is still a major problem at this firm. The employees are under strict instructions never to make mistakes in their work. The pressure to avoid mistakes has forced employees to stick to the set guidelines, making it difficult for them to come up with new ways of approaching their daily tasks. The top managers should also find ways of maintaining regular interaction with junior employees as a way of enhancing an innovative environment. It is only through such interactions that the managers will be able to know the challenges junior employees face on their duties. They can also get suggestions from these junior employees on how the challenges they face at workplace can be addressed. As Carvalho (2016) says, communication is critical in an organizational setting. The management must commit itself to addressing this issue because it may have serious implications on the operations of the organization.
Recommendations for Improvement
The environment within which GDRFA-Dubai operates is increasingly getting competitive and it is necessary for this firm to ensure that it remains innovative in its operations. The discussion above shows that there are a number of areas for improvement that the management should consider in order to enhance its operations. The following factors should be taken into consideration.
- The management of GDRFA-Dubai should regularly create mock tests where employees can try their new skills in a controlled environment without subjecting the country to unnecessary danger. In such controlled environment, employees will test new skills of identifying contraband goods and other illegal transactions created specifically to enhance creativity.
- The top management should create an avenue through which it can interact easily with junior employees as they try to find new ways of addressing existing and new problems. Although the top managers are often busy developing strategic goals, they should create time to meet with mid-managers and junior employees to help foster an innovative business environment
- Exposure was identified as a major driver of positive change. The management of GDRFA-Dubai should find a way of making their employees exposed. Technology has made it possible for a firm to make its workers exposed without necessarily traveling widely to other parts of the world.
- GDRFA-Dubai should consider developing its own incubation center where employees can develop new ideas into actionable plans. In the incubation centers, employees can afford to make mistakes without having major implications on the operations of this company.
The General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs Dubai has a major task of ensuring that the sea ports and airports within the United Arab Emirates are protected from illegal goods and people. This organization has been faced with numerous challenges over the recent past due to the level of sophistication used currently by drug cartels, human traffickers, and other people dealing in illegal goods to facilitate their trade. The ongoing civil war in some parts of the Middle East has also created another big challenge for the organization. These wars have created millions of genuine refugees who seek protection and care because of the dangers they face back home. The United Arab Emirates has the mandate to accept them and offer them care and protection till that time it would be safe for them to go back home.
The problem is that some terror groups operating in the region may infiltrate the secure borders of the United Arab Emirates posing as refugees who need help. GDRFA-Dubai is forced to come up with an effective way of ensuring that such individuals are identified and deported back to their country before they can pose a serious threat to the country. To achieve efficiency and effectiveness in its operations, this organization needs to embrace innovative practices. However, the analysis has revealed that there are a number of challenges that it might face as it seeks to create an innovative environment. It will need to embrace the above recommendations in order to have a highly innovative workplace where employees are not only ready to embrace change but also keen on becoming the agents of change.
Carvalho, L 2016, Handbook of research on entrepreneurial success and its impact on regional development, Cengage, New York.
Kuratko, D 2016, Entrepreneurship: Theory, process, practice, South-Western, Melbourne.
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Maktūm R 2013, Flashes of thought: Inspired by a dialogue at the government summit 2013, Motivate Publishing, Dubai.
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