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Employees’ proactive behavior and innovation performance: Examining the moderating role of informal and formal controls

Mercedes Segarra-Ciprés (Department of Business Administration and Marketing, Jaume I University, Castellón, Spain)
Ana Escrig-Tena (Department of Business Administration and Marketing, Jaume I University, Castellón, Spain)
Beatriz García-Juan (Jaume I University, Castellón, Spain)

European Journal of Innovation Management

ISSN: 1460-1060

Article publication date: 20 September 2019

Issue publication date: 19 November 2019

1859

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the degree to which employees’ proactive behavior contributes to innovation performance in firms operating in high-technology sectors. Despite the benefits of these behaviors for individuals and organizations, few studies have analyzed the contextual conditions that enable firms to capture their value in order to improve innovation performance. Drawing on the interactionist perspective, the authors also examine the extent to which informal and formal controls, such as perceived support for innovation and innovation process formalization, can facilitate the contribution of proactive behaviors to improve innovation performance (product and process innovation).

Design/methodology/approach

Based on an empirical study with a sample of 173 firms operating in chemical and information technology service sectors, hierarchical regression analysis was used to test the relationship between employees’ proactive behavior and innovation performance, and the moderating effects of informal and formal controls.

Findings

The results reveal a positive and significant association between proactive behaviors and product and process innovation performance. Both control mechanisms positively moderate the association between proactive behavior and product innovation, but no moderating role was found for process innovation. Moreover, rather than inhibiting innovation performance, innovation process formalization is positively associated with innovation. More specifically, a curvilinear relationship was found, which implies that when the level of formalization is high, it is able to improve product and process innovation.

Practical implications

The findings suggest that managers should consider proactive behavior in selection processes and performance management, and should cultivate a climate to support innovation and establish formal controls for innovation as a way to channel employees’ initiatives into product innovation.

Originality/value

This study contributes to the theoretical and managerial understanding of the extent to which proactive employees and organizational controls are able to enhance innovation in a technologically dynamic context.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research is supported by the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación of Spain and FEDER (ECO2015-66671-P) (MINECO/FEDER) and the Universitat Jaume I (Ref. UJI-B2017-21).

Citation

Segarra-Ciprés, M., Escrig-Tena, A. and García-Juan, B. (2019), "Employees’ proactive behavior and innovation performance: Examining the moderating role of informal and formal controls", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 22 No. 5, pp. 866-888. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJIM-02-2019-0041

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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