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Creating innovative employees : the effect of competences on innovative work behavior and the moderating role of human resource practices

Waenink, Elles (2012) Creating innovative employees : the effect of competences on innovative work behavior and the moderating role of human resource practices.

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Abstract:In today’s world, there is increasing attention to innovation, which is a way to respond to the worldwide competition and pressures from the environment. Employees play a crucial role in the innovation process as they are the basis of all ideas. Therefore, innovative work behavior (IWB) is of interest when organizations aim on innovation, as is the case for […]. Due to the fact that the organization discovered a decrease in their innovation capacity, they wanted to get more insight in the innovation process. Moreover, since innovation is a strategic pillar, it was anyway of interest to get a better understanding of innovation and the role of employees and HRM in this context. As a result, this study investigated which competences foster IWB of employees and the way in which HR practices are related to competences and IWB. Competences and Innovative Work Behavior Although IWB in previous work often is considered as a one-dimensional construct, this study provided more detailed information on IWB by taking into account the various stages: idea exploration, idea generation, idea championing and idea implementation, which all require different behaviors. The first stage of IWB, idea exploration, refers to discovering opportunities or problems to be solved. Thereafter, information should be combined and reorganized in order to form concrete sets of ideas, which refers to idea generation. In the third stage, idea championing, the goal is to find support for the innovation by expressing its success and advantages. Finally, in the idea implementation stage, the innovation becomes part of the regular (work) processes of the organization. Based on a literature study, it was expected that six competences would have a positive influence on IWB. These are domain-specific knowledge (knowledge about the specific work area), organizational knowledge (knowledge about the organizational context), internal networking skills (connectedness within the organization), cognitive ability (purposeful action, reasoning, effective learning, meaningful interaction with the environment), proactivity (taking initiative) and role-breadth self-efficacy (someone’s believe in its ability to perform). It was predicted that these competences would not have the same effect on all stages of innovative work behavior. By administering a questionnaire among the workforce of […] (265 employees), which resulted in a response rate of 200 employees, the hypothesized relationships were assessed. The results indicated first of all that domain-specific knowledge, cognitive ability and role-breadth self-efficacy enhance the first stage of IWB, idea exploration. The second stage of IWB, idea generation, benefits from the personality characteristics proactivity and role-breadth self-efficacy, and the cognitive ability of employees. The results furthermore showed that for idea championing, the third stage of IWB, the competences internal networking skills, proactivity and role-breadth self-efficacy have a positive influence. Finally, for idea implementation, it became clear that two competences have an enhancing effect, cognitive ability and role-breadth self-efficacy. The competence organizational knowledge seemed to have no effect on IWB. In addition, it was investigated how the workforce of […] scored on these competences and IWB. In general, idea championing and idea implementation require improvement. Besides, it became clear that employees of the technology based group (R&D) show most IWB and the employees of the operational excellence group (e.g. Manufacturing and Service) show the least IWB. Concerning the competences, domain-specific knowledge is in the entire organization good represented, whereas proactivity is overall quite low. The other competences show different results for the various departments. HR Practices as Moderators In addition to the effect of competences on IWB, it is investigated what role HR practices play here, as they can influence employees’ behavior. However, employees behave based on the commitment they experience from the organization. So when organizations want to influence the behavior of the workforce, they should first invest in their employees to create a relationship of mutual commitment. Employees interpret HR practices as indicative of the organization’s commitment to them and therefore this study focused on high commitment HR practices. Based on a literature study, five high commitment HR practices were included in this study. These are job design (autonomy and variety), training (learning of job-related competences), information sharing (organizational plans and results), performance management (feedback and performance improvement) and job security (stable employment for employees). It was predicted that these HR practices would have a moderating effect on some of the relationships between competences and IWB. It should be noted that IWB was here considered as one construct, not divided in stages. The effect of the HR practices was measured by means of a questionnaire as explained above. The workforce was the target group so the perceptions of employees regarding the HR practices were measured. The results made clear that there were only a few moderating effects. Despite the expectations, job design did not reinforce the relationship between Creating Innovative Employees - augustus 2012 domain-specific knowledge, proactivity, role-breadth self-efficacy and IWB. For training, only one moderating effect was found, however this effect was negative instead of positive. Training weakens the relationship between cognitive ability and IWB. For the relationships between the other competences and IWB, no moderating effect of training was found. The hypothesis concerning the HR practice information sharing could be confirmed, which means that information sharing stimulates the connection between organizational knowledge and IWB. However, a disadvantage is that organizational knowledge seemed to have no effect on IWB, which means that this finding is of less value. The fourth HR practice, performance management, had no moderating effect on the relationship between proactivity and IWB and role-breadth self-efficacy and IWB, which was again contrary to the expectations. The same holds for job security, which seemed to have no reinforcing influence on the relationship between proactivity and IWB and role-breadth self-efficacy and IWB. When looking at the mean scores of the perceived HR practices, it can be concluded that the employees are very positive about most of them. Only training and information sharing might be improved, as they have overall the lowest scores. Implications Based on the results of this study, various implications could be formulated. The findings first of all contribute to the body of knowledge about the multistage innovation process and the critical role of employees regarding innovation. Different individual competences that enhance the stages of IWB are identified, which help organizations to enhance their innovation performance. The section in which the moderating role of HR practices with regard to competences and IWB was investigated, provided insights in the importance of HRM for innovation. Furthermore, at […], R&D and Engineering (pillar technology based) are the departments that drive innovation and thus it is most important to first focus on enhancing IWB there. In addition, for the remaining departments (market driven, operational excellence, people created) a study to the competences that foster these pillars is valuable, in order to get a complete view of the competences that are most important for each department, based on the strategy. It is also recommended for […] to constantly focus on providing training opportunities and sharing information. All in all, these investments will result in motivated and committed employees who show innovative work behavior.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
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