Human Resource Practices & Innovation

Academics and policy-makers agree that innovation is of critical importance for business productivity and growth, explaining the substantial body of research in this area. There is broad consensus that factors, such as R&D spend, firm age, firm size, sector, ownership and location, influence innovation performance, with many studies finding evidence of these relationships in Irish firms. Recently, with my colleague Frank Crowley, I have begun to investigate the influence of human resource practices on innovation performance.

A crucial element in firms’ strategic decision-making is the identification and effective harnessing of complementarities between different managerial activities, optimising resource use. Using Irish workplace data, we investigate if human resource practices can benefit innovation, particularly when applied together. These practices are not generally introduced for the purpose of improving innovation outcomes, but we find some evidence of ‘unintended consequences’ for innovation. Our primary findings are that bundles of HR practices relating to performance management and appraisal, knowledge sharing and involvement, and empowerment in decision making all are positively associated with innovation in manufacturing and service firms, and bundles of flexible employment contracts practices positively influence innovation in service firms. The full paper will be published in the International Journal of Innovation Management 


8 replies on “Human Resource Practices & Innovation”

Well done on publication and on making use of a useful Irish data set.

Wearing one of my critical theory caps…. external objectivist explanatics, no matter the serious thought on construct formation or statistical sophistication, is incapable of getting ‘into’, let alone explaining, the real world process of innovation or ‘human creative ability’. This demands a hermeneutic focus and co-creation dialogue by active involvement in and with the real human participants in context and over time …. takes a lot of time, an awful lot of background understanding of social theory across disciplines, and can be expensive …. and is both seriously undervalued and insufficiently recognised in Irish Business Schools.

That said, I will read your paper, and it is encouraging to see a post in this key social and economic area on this site.

@David O’Donnell: ” external objectivist explanatics”. Give me a break.

I take it that what you mean is that innovation is partly a matter of insight and intuition (NB partly), and is not something objective which can be taught in classroom. Why not say so and cut the critical theory (= obfuscation) stuff.

While I’m on this rant, it reminds me of the way in which business schools attempt to teach “entrepreneurship”.

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