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From Employee-Experienced High-Involvement Work System to Innovation: An Emergence-Based Human Resource Management Framework

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The Academy of Management Journal

Published online on


The influence of human resource management (HRM) on innovation has attracted considerable research attention over the last decade. However, existing studies have primarily focused on the macro-level HRM architecture, limiting our understanding about the cross-level origin of innovation. Developing an emergence-based HRM framework, we propose that employee-experienced high-involvement work system (HIWS) promotes innovation by eliciting collective interactions for knowledge exchange and aggregation. Further, we investigate the emergence enabling process that facilitates employee-experienced HIWS to give rise to organization-level innovation. Specifically, we probe three distinct emergence enablers that amplify the positive influence of HIWS on innovation by shaping the concertedness, direction, and adaptability of collective interactions—that is, the homogeneity of HIWS experiences as the internal mechanism, the strategic importance of innovation as the external mechanism, and the churn in human resources as the temporal mechanism. We tested our theoretical model using data from a nationally representative sample of workplaces in Canada (N = 2,639). Our results suggest that employee-experienced HIWS was positively related to innovation. In addition, this positive effect was amplified by all three emergence enablers (i.e., the homogeneity of HIWS experiences, the strategic importance of innovation, and the churn in human resources).