Academic journal article Research and Practice in Human Resource Management

Fostering the Innovative Behaviour of SME Employees: A Social Capital Perspective

Academic journal article Research and Practice in Human Resource Management

Fostering the Innovative Behaviour of SME Employees: A Social Capital Perspective

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Although developing the innovative behaviour of employees is considered to contribute to improving organisational efficiency and effectiveness, very little is known about innovative behaviour within the context of small to medium enterprises (SMEs). Human resource managers who are able to develop the innovative behaviour of employees create an opportunity in which an employee's behaviour can be aligned with organisational goals. This study explores several antecedents contributing to the innovative behaviour of employees. The findings confirm that the organisational factors tested affect both the innovative behaviour of employees and the innovative culture that supports innovative behaviour in the workplace. These findings outline implications for management that require the development of employee innovative capability if they are to gain a competitive advantage in the contemporary business arena.

Key words Small medium enterprises, social capital theory, trust, sociability, innovation

INTRODUCTION

The innovative behaviour of employees can provide a significant competitive advantage for small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Innovative behaviour is referred to as the process of bringing new problem solving ideas into use (Ardts, Van Der Velde & Maurer 2010). Further, Carmeli, Meitar and Weisberg (2006) described innovative behaviour as a knowledge management process that involves recognising a problem, creating solutions for the problem and creating support to embed the solutions into organisational practice. Innovative behaviour is suggested to be important for organisations seeking to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of organisational processes. The importance of innovative behaviour is imperative for SMEs as the literature suggests that these institutions can be at a disadvantage when competing with larger firms (Cassell, Nadin, Gray & Clegg 2002). To explain, a disadvantage is often caused by the inequality of leverage and buying power over resources, when comparing larger organisations and SMEs. Therefore, the importance of developing the innovative behaviour of employees becomes particularly important for SMEs, and is one method of improving the effectiveness and efficiency of organisational processes.

The shared knowledge of employees is an important resource for facilitating innovative behaviour. Cavusgil, Calantone and Zhao (2003) suggest organisations that can facilitate the use of knowledge are able to innovate faster and more successfully. In particular, there is a vast body of evidence which highlights that social networking is vital for improving the innovative behaviour of employees (Cooke & Wills 1999, Dhanaraj & Parkhe 2006, De Jong & Den Hartog 2007, 2010). The importance of social networks becomes evident because despite rapid change and the constant influx of new technology, Nebus (2006) suggests that employees and employers alike still prefer to talk with others who belong to their workplace social networks as a means of gathering important knowledge. Therefore, research into the organisational factors that impact upon the innovative behaviour of employees is imperative for organisations seeking a competitive advantage through innovation and the improvement of organisational processes (Porter 1990).There is some current research that has examined the innovative behaviour of employees (e.g., Scott & Bruce 1994a, Janssen 2000, 2004, 2005, Kleysen & Street 2001, Ramamoorthy, Flood, Slattery & Sardessai 2005, Amo 2006, Carmelli et al. 2006, De Jong & Den Hartog 2007, 2010, Reuvers, Van Engen, Vinkenburg & Wilson-Evered 2008, Carmeli & Spreitzer 2009, Jafri 2010, Yuan & Woodman 2010). However, considering the importance of innovative behaviour for SMEs, there is a lack of empirical research which examines the innovative behaviour of SME employees, particularly that of service based SME employees (Scozzi, Carvelli & Crowston 2005). …

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