Are There Learning Agents in Innovative Firms? A Study of the Potential Role of Human Resource Managers in Learning and Innovation
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of the Knowledge Economy 2015, 6(3) 10.1007/s13132-015-0252-9
This article takes the link between learning and innovation as its starting point and explores how this relationship might be managed within the innovative firm. In order to gain a better overview of the kinds of activities, which might be involved in managing and promoting the kind of learning, which will result in innovation, some criteria have been developed. These criteria are based on a review of the key theoretical and conceptual studies on organisational learning, particularly where these studies relate organisational learning to innovation and change. Thereafter, a close analysis of empirical studies of the relationship between human resource management (HRM) activities and innovation has been carried out. The conclusion is that HRM is already contributing in various ways to learning within innovative firms, and these activities have been linked increased innovation. However, there was no evidence suggesting that HRM is making a strategic connection between learning and business strategy or if they are facilitating connections between pockets of creativity in the organisation, as we might expect from knowledge activists. A better understanding of how HRM works in practice as well as an overview of their aims and strategies would be necessary in order to understand if their activities are explicitly aimed at improving innovation. This article adds to our understanding of HRM activities relating to innovation and provides a systematic overview of how the various HRM activities are linked to theories of learning in innovative organisations.