Previous work on employee-driven innovation (EDI) has demonstrated the benefits of employees’ proactive behavior in achieving success with innovations. The purpose of this paper is to employ the concept of personal initiative to investigate the underestimated role of employees’ agency in complex processes of innovation, showing the impact of personal initiative on employees’ innovation success.
Based on two embedded cases of environmental bottom-up innovation at a large manufacturing company, this study examines employees’ behavior in generating, championing and realizing such initiatives.
This paper provides insights into how employees succeeded, through taking initiative in generating, championing and realizing environmental initiatives despite facing high complexity, and resource constraints. Without being prompted from the top down, employees started these initiatives themselves and showed phase-specific behavior in overcoming the various challenges. Thus, self-starting behavior was found dominant in generating ideas, whereas proactive and persistent forms of behavior were found to be prevalent in championing and rolling out the initiatives.
Current understandings of EDI highlight the importance of developing employees’ potential capabilities and organizational-level guidance. Using an active performance perspective, this study emphasizes the importance of employees’ agency in ensuring EDI success, even when conditions are not conducive to their doing so.
The authors thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments. Moreover, the authors are thankful for the comments the authors received at EURAM innovation track 2018 on an earlier draft of this paper.
Weigt-Rohrbeck, J. and Linneberg, M. (2019), "Democratizing innovation processes: personal initiative in bottom-up eco-innovation", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 22 No. 5, pp. 821-844. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJIM-12-2018-0278Download as .RIS
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