Driving human resources towards quality and innovation in a highly competitive environment

Gil-Marques Maria (Faculty of Economics and Business Management, Catholic University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain)
D. Moreno-Luzon Maria (Faculty of Economics, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Publication date: 11 November 2013



Intense competitive environments demand the combination of quality and innovation. The potential of human resource management practices within the total quality framework for promoting innovation is under debate, particularly in relation to radical innovation. The purpose of this paper is to enhance and extend the analysis of the role of cultural change as a mediator.


The empirical study examines a sample of Spanish firms in highly competitive environments in their search for a combination of quality and innovation. To this end, the investigation includes structural equation analysis through partial least square path modelling.


According to the results, the cultural change towards exploitation and exploration brought about by the application of these practices has a positive and significant relationship with incremental innovation. The findings indicate that incremental innovation has a positive and significant effect on radical innovation as well. This outcome challenges a well-known phenomenon: the so-called “success trap”.

Practical implications

The study helps to understand how human resource management practices within a total quality framework can be designed and implemented as a means of generating synergies between the two fields.


This study adds two original contributions to the current dialogue on the implications of total quality management for innovation: it reveals the moderating role of cultural change for exploitation and exploration, and pinpoints the role of incremental innovation in facilitating radical innovation within the TQM framework.



The authors thank F. Arteaga, Z. Simsek, J.Alegre, B.Lloria, J.F. Martinez, V. Oltra and anonymous referees and the editor of this volume for their constructive comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. Usual disclaimers apply. This paper was presented at the IJM track at the Second International Conference of The International Network of Business and Management journals (INBAM), Valencia, March 2012.


Gil-Marques, M. and D. Moreno-Luzon, M. (2013), "Driving human resources towards quality and innovation in a highly competitive environment", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 34 No. 8, pp. 839-860. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJM-07-2013-0183

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