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Varying involvement in digitally enhanced employee-driven innovation

Izabelle Bäckström (Department of Design Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden)
Malin Lindberg (Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden)

European Journal of Innovation Management

ISSN: 1460-1060

Article publication date: 18 February 2019

Issue publication date: 17 May 2019

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to advance knowledge about the mechanisms behind, and the implications of, varying involvement in digitally enhanced employee-driven innovation (EDI) by studying how a firm integrates a web-based tool in the organization of its EDI process.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on a qualitative in-depth interview study with managers and employees at one high-performing and one low-performing office of a global IT firm, a critical discourse analysis was performed. It explored how the EDI discourse was produced, distributed and consumed in relation to the web-based tool for collecting and selecting employee ideas.

Findings

The results demonstrate that the production of the innovation discourse by the top-level management, which emphasizes client satisfaction rather than employee engagement, restricts the employees’ utilization of the digital platform that distributes the discourse. However, at the high-performing office, employee participation is ensured because the local managers act as co-distributors of the digital tool.

Research limitations/implications

The single case study design limits the generalizability of the results, but is nevertheless relevant for understanding the mechanisms and implications in similar contexts where web-based tools are used to enhance EDI processes.

Practical implications

The study provides practical insights into the importance of local management’s active promotion of digital tools in order to ensure employee involvement.

Originality/value

The study contributes to the EDI literature by identifying some mechanisms behind and the implications of varying employee involvement in digitally enhanced EDI processes.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank the Swedish National PhD-education school Management and IT for research funding.

Citation

Bäckström, I. and Lindberg, M. (2019), "Varying involvement in digitally enhanced employee-driven innovation", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 22 No. 3, pp. 524-540. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJIM-01-2018-0008

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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