HRM and the team innovation process; What HRM practices enhance the team innovation process?

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Innovation is recognized as one of the driving forces of organisational success. As one of the driving forces of an organization, HRM should contribute in achieving successful innovation. To achieve innovation, an idea has to emerge, which has to be translated into a product or a service, which typically occurs on a team level. This paper aims to seek the potential contribution of HRM towards achieving innovation, specifically focusing on the process and input needed for a team. Existing HRM research has found several practices for innovation aimed at innovational outcomes, not specifically aimed at the team innovation process, consisting of an input part and a process part. Therefore, psychological research was used to find the aspects that are important for the team innovation process, by incorporating the concepts team composition (input) and team climate (process). By combining existing psychological and HRM research, several aspects were found that indicate in what way the team innovation process can be enhanced. To find what HRM practices enhance the aspects of team climate and team composition, an explorative research was conducted at a high-tech, highly innovative organization, where innovation teams are used. The conducted research consisted of ten interviews with staff (e.g. HR management, R&D Management and team leaders) as well as team members (e.g. software and process engineers). After the data analysis, results indicated that the team innovation process can be enhanced by setting clear and steady goals. Furthermore, five HRM practices were found after the data analysis: the practices training and selective staffing for team composition and the practices autonomy, a broad job design and performance-based rewards. In addition, several new aspects were found, that indicate in what way the team innovation process can be enhanced: external sources of knowledge for team composition. A manager, regular meetings, an open / supportive culture, balance of work and intrinsic motivation were aspects that were recognized as beneficial for team composition as well as team climate. Local knowledge, the last aspect, was recognized as beneficial for only team climate. In sum, this research found several HRM practices that enhance aspects of team composition and team climate. Consequently, team composition and team climate lead to an enhanced team innovation process, which ultimately can enhance the innovational outcomes, that origin from more creativity, more (shared) knowledge and improved teamwork.
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