Research Matters

Research Matters

Workplace Innovation


Most companies want workers to show the creative resourcefulness that often is dubbed "innovation." But how can a business best push employees to innovate without concern of risk to their images inside the organization?

Aired April 25, 2010



2 minutes (2.7 MB) | Download mp3

Transcript


A researcher exposes the psychology of workplace innovation. From the University of Kansas, this is Research Matters. I'm Brendan Lynch.

Feirong Yuan, assistant professor of business at the University of Kansas, has sought to grasp the underlying motives behind employee innovation.

Yuan: We looked at employee innovation in terms of their behavior. So there is a set of behavior that we call innovative behavior. Basically, it's about introducing something new and implementing it at your own job, at your own organization.

Yuan said that fostering fresh ideas and putting them into action is a vital function of a successful company.

Yuan: There has been consensus developing that employee innovation is really critical. The business world of today is very dynamic, changing everyday. Customer demands change, the market changes, and so companies need to keep up. One of the ways a company can keep up is to have employees constantly searching for how to do things better, do their jobs better, and introduce new technology or product ideas into the company so that company is constantly adapting, more flexible and on the edge in having a competitive advantage.

Yuan looked at how innovation is tied to image risks - that is, employees' fear of receiving negative social evaluations from other people within their company. She asked hundreds of employees and their bosses about their companies, relationships, job requirements, reputations and level of dissatisfaction with the status quo.

Yuan: We found things, factors that will help to reduce image risk associated with innovation. One is the company, if the employee perceives the company culture and values as supportive of innovation. The leader respects innovation. And it's fine for me to do some experimentation. I'm allowed to fail - allowed to take some risk. And the second factor is if I perceive innovation to be part of my job.

For more on employee innovation, log on to Research Matters dot K-U dot E-D-U. For the University of Kansas, I'm Brendan Lynch.

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KU researcher exposes psychology of workplace innovation

Most companies want workers to show the creative resourcefulness that often is dubbed "innovation." But how can a business best push employees to innovate without concern of risk to their images inside the organization?

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