Insights of the ESRC Seminar Series, Seminar 1: HRM and Innovation in Medium-Sized Businesses: Multi-Level Effects
Those attending the event were inspired by the thinking and opinions of James Guthrie and Jane Zhao from the University of Kansas, who presented at the first seminar in October 2012, giving wonderful insights into how HRM can support knowledge creation and the links between motivation and capability, and how these lead to new product design and higher levels of innovation. Karin Sanders, Juani Swart and James Hayton also shared insightful and valuable ideas, especially around HR’s role in shaping ‘intrapreneurship’- the ability of organizational members to take up opportunities by improving and innovating above and beyond existing practice. Detailed insights are now on the website, and can be accessed by following this link.
Insights from Seminar 1
Seminar 1, HRM and Innovation in Medium-Sized Businesses: Multi-Level Effects took place on Monday 29th October 2012 and was hosted by Aston Business School. It was very well-attended by leading academic researchers and HRM practitioners from all around the globe, as well as from local and national businesses and organisations.
Dr. Phil Extance, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Business Partnerships and Knowledge Transfer), Aston University gave an interesting opening speech for the Series, followed by a welcome and introduction by Aston Business School's Dr. Helen Shipton who opened the Seminar for the day.
Keynote Presentation 1, 'MSBs are Future Champions' was by Hayley Conboy, Senior Policy Adviser, Confederation of British Industry.
Hayley’s talk gave us insight into WHY medium-sized businesses (MSBs) are an important but neglected sector with the potential to make an even greater contribution to the UK economy than at present. CBI research into the Forgotten Army of medium-sized businesses uncovers:
● The 3 steps required for unlocking growth in medium-sized businesses…
● …with a focus on STEP 2 – scaling up internal capabilities
● The role and importance of leadership development and talent management to a growing MSB
● CBI Future Champions campaign
● CBI M Clubs
Keynote Presentation 2 was given by Professor Jim Guthrie, William and Judy Docking, Kansas University.
The presentation slides for this presentation, 'HRM and Knowledge Creation' may be viewed via this link.
The principal messages from this presentation were that HRM research - especially SHRM research - needs to contribute more to the 'knowledge creation / innovation' literature, and that(S)HRM research hasn’t invested enough helping to understand relationships between constructs at the center of today’s seminar. This is because knowledge creation and innovation are necessary for organizational performance, and this virtuous cycle was outlined by Jim in the following way:
Knowledge Creation (KC) is demonstrated overtly by cognitive activities leading to new solutions, novel ideas (i.e., innovations), Innovation results in the emergence of a new idea (i.e., knowledge creation). However, a key point is that most new ideas or knowledge emerge from re-combinations of existing knowledge.
Keynote Presentation 3 was by James Hayton, Professor of HRM & Entrepreneurship, Warwick Business School, whose presentation slides may be viewed via this link. Prof. Hayton spoke about 'HRM and Entrepreneurship'
James spoke about corporate entrepreneurship (CE), comprising innovation, venturing and strategic renewal, and the qualities found in those employees linked with Entrepreneurial Orientation (EO): Risk-taking, innovativeness and pro-activeness. James went on to show that both CE and EO are significantly related to financial performance, growth and survival, with Perceived Organisational Support, OCBs and Social Exchange/Social Networks mediating the relationship between HRM and OE and its related outcomes.
After an enjoyable buffet lunch and networking opportunity came Keynote Presentation 5. This was on the topic of 'Informal Learning and Innovative Behaviour: A Multi-level interactive learning approach' and was given by Professor Karin Sanders, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia whose presentation slides may be viewed via this link. Prof. Sanders is a Director of the Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, University of Twente, the Netherlands.
Karin gave an insightful and fascinating presentation, highlighting the importance of
• Innovative behavior (idea generation, idea promotion, and idea realization), which are positively related with organizational outcomes (innovation);
• Transformational leadership (TFL):leaders’ ability to motivate and develop employees through inspirational motivation, vision, intellectual stimulation and personal support
• Explaining the relationship between TFL and Innovative Behavior (role of team learning).
Useful references provided by Karin include:
• Performance appraisal quality: Sanders et al, (2008); High Commitment HRM, PA is clear, regularly communicated, and open.
• HRM system strength: Delmotte, De Winne, & Sels (2012) 16 items; distinctiveness, consistency, & consensus
• Innovative behaviour; De Jong & Den Hartog (2005), 5 items; “I go searching for new methods and ways to work”, “I promote and defined my innovative ideas to others”
Of particular interest was the analysis employed by Karin; employees were nested in teams facilitating multi level modelling.
Professor Juani Swart gave Keynote Presentation 6: 'HRM, Innovation and looking across boundaries'. Juani, who is from the University of Bath School of Management, spoke about the co-production of innovation in a context of Client Interaction within Professional Services Firms, and the importance of taking an activity perspective toward selecting the unit of analysis within the core client interface process, and highlighting that the boundaries are dictated by the process (Kogut and Zander,1996) : 'it is 'what we do' that defines the appropriate parameters for research'
Juani's presentation, which may be viewed here , explained how human capital based advantage are the innovative outputs that are linked to the process of strategic renewal (Crossan et al, 1999), that resources linked to tacit routines, such as knowledge, skills and relationships can generate innovate outputs (Bowman & Swart, 2007), and that Human Capital (HC) may be both Firm-specific and Client-specific, and Social Capital (SC) can be both Co-operative and Opportunistic.
The final Keynote Presentation (7), on the subject of 'Motivation and Capability in New Product Development (NPD)' was made by Dr. Jane Zhao and Clint Chadwick, from the University of Kansas, US. Their slides may be viewed via this link.
Dr. Zhao discussed her work, which addressed the question of the role of unit-level motivation in NPD, the comparative importance between NPD motivation and NPD capability, and the antecedents to NPD motivation. She highlighted the criticality of collective willingness to collaboratively share and recombine knowledge for successful NPD, that NPD team members must have this motivation to overcome the opportunistic tendency induced by interdependent team task knowledge specialisation, and the communication and coordination difficulties induced by knowledge diversity.
Collective willingness to take measured risks was also shown to be necessary in order to generate and implement new product designs; NPD team members need this motivation to overcome natural risk aversion.
The event concluded with a useful Thematic Group Session, allowing delegates to reflect on the information and insights they had gained from the day, before Seminar Conclusion and thanks from Dr. Helen Shipton, on behalf of all the organising team at Aston Business School, Aston University.