Original Research

Exploring barriers to innovation in higher education: An empirical investigation in Zimbabwe

Alfred H. Mazorodze, Peter Mkhize
South African Journal of Information Management | Vol 26, No 1 | a1644 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v26i1.1644 | © 2024 Alfred H. Mazorodze, Peter Mkhize | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 January 2023 | Published: 15 January 2024

About the author(s)

Alfred H. Mazorodze, Department of Information Systems, School of Computing, University of South Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa
Peter Mkhize, Department of Information Systems, School of Computing, University of South Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: In a competition for scarce resources, higher education institutions in developing countries have lost to other priorities. The article examines specific barriers to innovation in the higher education context. A thorough understanding and removal of these impediments paves a way to innovation in developing countries, specifically Zimbabwe.

Objectives: Firstly, the study sought to evaluate the barriers to innovation in higher education and secondly recommend strategies to improve the innovation capabilities of the institutions.

Method: A survey strategy was adopted to collect data from 240 purposefully selected academics at four state universities in Zimbabwe with a 66.6% response rate.

Results: The results indicate that the lack of funding for research is the biggest barrier to innovation in higher education with a 46% representation. Along the same spectrum, the lack of incentives is also another barrier with an account of 21% of the participants who participated. The organisational structure is also a pertinent barrier with 24% representation. Lastly, the organisational culture accounts 9% of the participants.

Conclusion: Adequate resource allocation and funding is crucial to the success and transformation of the higher education system. Implementing policies that align with the strategic goals of the institutions is imperative to bring about innovation not only in Zimbabwe but also in other developing countries too.

Contribution: Higher education institutions should provide adequate funding for research and reassess their organisational cultures and structures for them to be on the cutting edge.


innovation; higher education; organisational structure; organisational culture; resistance to change; communities of practice; knowledge management.

JEL Codes

I21: Analysis of Education; I23: Higher Education • Research Institutions; I25: Education and Economic Development

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education


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