Implementation climate: What is it?

By Lukasz Mazur, University of North Carolina.

Climate, as an abstract construct, seems to  measure organizational members’ shared perceptions of policies, practices, and procedures that orient behavior toward a specific organizational goal(s). For example, Schneider and Gunnarson (1991) stated that (a) “climate refers to the visible practices, procedures, and rewarded behaviors that characterize an organization” (p. 542), and (b) “climates are summary perceptions employees have about their organization that develop from the practices and procedures employees observe happening to them and around them (p. 549).

So, what is implementation climate? As an abstract construct, seems to measure members’ shared perceptions of how various policies, practices, and procedures that promote organizational members’ means, motives, and opportunities for innovation use. In general, implementation climate focuses on the extent to which organizational members perceive that innovation use is expected, supported, and rewarded. For example, Klein and Sorra [1996, p. 1060] define implementation climate as ‘targeted employees’ shared summary perceptions of the extent to which their use of a specific innovation is rewarded, supported, and expected within an organization.’ Specifically, Klein and Sorra propose that implementation climate has a specific strategic focus (innovation implementation); is innovation-specific; refers to those organizational members who are expected either to use an innovation directly (e.g., front-line staff) or to support an innovation’s use (e.g., information technology specialists, supervisors); is focused on members’ shared perceptions, not to their individual views; can be conceived and assessed at the organizational, unit, group, or individual level of analysis; is cumulative, compensatory, and equifinal; and finally is focused on organizational members’ perceptions (descriptive and not evaluative), not their attitudes.

Thus, implementation climate differs from constructs such as organizational climate, or culture. It applies most readily to innovations that require collective and coordinated behaviors (e.g., Lean in healthcare). For innovations that do not require collective and coordinated behavioral changes, individual-level theories of behavior change could be more useful.

If you want to learn more about implementation climate please refer to Weiner et al (2011) article from which I gathered most of the information to write this blog: The meaning and measurement of implementation climate, Implement Sci. Jul 22;6:78. doi: 10.1186/1748-5908-6-78. I highly recommend this article for students that are interested in measuring implementation climate.


Schneider, B and Gunnarson, S (1991). Organizational climate and culture: The psychology of the workplace. In JW Jones, BD Steffy, & DW Bray (Eds.), Applying psychology in business (pp.542-551). Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.

Klein KJ, Sorra JS: The challenge of innovation implementation. Academy of Management Review 1996, 21:1055-1080.