Department of Management

Democratizing innovation processes: personal initiative in bottom-up eco-innovation

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Purpose 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. Design/methodology/approach 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. Findings 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. Originality/value 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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Innovation Management
Volume22
Issue5
Pages (from-to)821-844
Number of pages24
ISSN1460-1060
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2019

    Research areas

  • Bottom-up innovation, Eco-innovation, Employee-driven innovation, Personal initiative, Proactive behaviour, Qualitative case study

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