The dynamics of innovation efforts in the early career

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
A1 Alkuperäisartikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä
Degree programme
Creativity and Innovation Management, Volume 32, issue 1
Although innovation is highly valued in organizations, early-career professionals face a paradox of bringing in novel ideas, yet having varied latitude and support to see these new ideas through. Building on 35 critical-incident-based interviews with early-career engineers in the United States, this study illuminates the socially situated dynamics of their innovation efforts, examining the process of such promotive proactive behaviour. We find that all participants reported some engagement in creating, championing and implementing new ideas, typically in the form of self-initiated improvements to the tools and processes participants used in their jobs. Encouragement from direct supervisors, supportive organizational cultures and practices, job scope, time afforded and one's perceived status were key considerations in determining whether to take such initiative. Carrying out innovative work behaviours, in turn, was largely dependent on continued employee initiative and ad hoc, informal cooperation, with individual effort punctuated by influential interactions with others that often determined the perceived valence of efforts. The study adds to understanding the social interactions and perceptions of voice required for innovative work behaviour, revealing when and to whom these prerequisites are afforded. Implications for organizations' innovation capacity and new hires' participation in innovation are discussed.
Funding Information: The Engineering Majors Survey research program has been supported by the National Science Foundation (grant number 1636442) and the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), a centre funded by the National Science Foundation (grant number DUE‐1125457). Work for this particular study has also been partially funded by the Fulbright ‐ Technology Industries of Finland Grant, The Finnish Science Foundation for Economics and Technology, and the Foundation for Economic Education and General Motors (through a gift to Stanford University promoting greater diversity and access to STEM fields). We also wish to thank the interviewed engineers for their time, Mathias Klenk for contributing to the data collection, Anna Kuukka for help in visualizing the dynamics and the members of the Designing Education Lab for their feedback throughout the course of the study. Publisher Copyright: © 2022 The Authors. Creativity and Innovation Management published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
collaboration, engineering, innovation, innovative work behaviour, proactivity, voice
Other note
Björklund, T A, Gilmartin, S K & Sheppard, S D 2023, ' The dynamics of innovation efforts in the early career ', Creativity and Innovation Management, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 80-99 .