HRM as a catalyst for innovation in startups

Dorra Jebali, Viviana Meschitti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The study seeks to reduce the blurriness remaining around the value that HRM can bring to innovation in the specific context of startups. It advocates that the early adoption of appropriate HRM practices, can act as a catalyst for innovation because they constitute a powerful means to systematically promote and facilitate employees’ innovative behaviours.
In the aim of complementing the existing quantitative work, this paper employs a multiple case study approach to explore the role of HRM in fostering employees’ innovative work behaviour in four Tunisian tech companies.
The study found substantial support for the importance of establishing a work environment for learning where employees can build their innovative capacities by upgrading their knowledge and skills through both formal and informal methods. Work autonomy and freedom are found to be essential parts of this environment. Workspace design that takes into account employees’ comfort and the collaborative nature of their work, also stands out as a major contributor to innovative work behaviour.
The adopted qualitative approach enabled a grasp of the less apparent aspects underpinning the HRM and innovation relationship in start-ups. ‘Ownership of space’ is revealed as a key element of the innovation-supportive work environment. By having a feeling of control on the workspace, employees can develop a sense of ownership towards the organisation which enhances their eagerness to exert innovation efforts. It also demonstrated that developing an overly creative workforce can turn into a source of stagnation which can be mitigated by cultivating ‘an environment for idea ownership’.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEmployee Relations
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 28 Aug 2020

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