The role of HRM in innovation processes - Nurturing or constraining creativity
The purpose of this study was to explore how different HRM practices nurture and constrain creativity in the organization, upon which companies build their innovation processes. This was explored by the perspective of employees working to contribute to innovations, line managers and HR professionals. A case study was conducted in two cases in two different companies, which had different strategies and hence different settings for HRM to nurture and constrain creativity. The empirical material was based on interviews with employees, line managers and HR professionals employed in the two companies. How HRM practices nurture and constrain creativity in the innovation context was analysed and explained by theory which focus on the dual role of HRM as both stabilizing and destabilizing and also the componential theory of creativity. HRM was found to nurture and constrain creativity and hence innovation by three practices: organizing practices, staffing practices and motivating practices, which provided different opportunities. By aiming to change the culture within the company to be more innovative, a major part of the activities and practices made by HRM were included in the motivational practices. Without having a clear mission to affect creativity and innovation processes, HRM was found to nurture creativity through the three practices but mainly through the formal and structured HR processes in the organizing practices and in the staffing practices. Despite of different strategies, the cases was found to have several similar opportunities for HRM to nurture creativity and hence innovations. The dual role of HRM as both stabilizing and destabilizing was found to be similar in both cases. Additionally, a major part of the motivational practices were introduced and affected employees indirectly, through managers who could affect practices and activities as freedom, encouragement, feedback, work climate, organizational support and knowledge sharing which nurtured creativity and hence innovations.