219.3 Is innovation routine? Diverse types of innovative behavior and routine work

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 9:40 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Stan DE SPIEGELAERE , HIVA Research Institute for Work and Society, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
Guy VAN GYES , HIVA Research Institute for Work and Society, K.U.Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
Using survey data of about 1100 employees of various industries in the Flemish region in Belgium; we research to which degree various kinds of employees are actively and continuously engaged in innovative activities at their workplace. The focus in the survey is on so-called routine manual and non-manual work in industries like chemicals, and service sectors like retail and hotels, restaurants and bars. The paper will start by argumenting that indeed innovation can be conceptualised in todays organisational context as part of a daily activity of many workers, also of routine manual and non-manual workers. The concept of ‘innovative work behavior’ (Scott & Bruce, 1994; Janssen, 2002) is next considered as a very useful construct in this regard. However, based on the illustrated multi-dimensionality of this concept, the paper will investigate in the empirical part to what extent routine workers:

a) are engaged in idea generation, idea exploration, idea championing or idea implementation. It is hypothesized that they are mainly involved in the latter forms of innovative work

b) are engaged in incremental, operational daily work innovations or in radical organisational innovations. It is hypothesized that only a small percentage is involved in the second type.

c) are engaging in these types of innovative work as part of their job requirements or on the opposite deploying this innovative work as a way to cope with the work load and stress of the standardised job. It is hypothesized that this type of ‘coping’ innovative work is more about idea generation and exploration.

Based on this empirical information on the involvement of routine workers in mechanisms of organisational innovation, the paper will end with a discussion of possible determinants of the established diverse types of innovative involvement.