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Organizational drivers of innovation: The role of workforce agility

Chiara Franco and Fabio Landini

Research Policy, 2022, vol. 51, issue 2

Abstract: The interplay between organization practices and innovation is highly relevant in modern business. This paper analyses whether a specific organizational dimension, namely workforce agility, affects innovative performance. We rationalize this effect within an organizational economics perspective that stresses the role of behavioural motives and human attitudes in the innovation process. In particular, we distinguish the contribution of two components: time agility and task agility. For both of them, we hypothesize that a higher level of agility is associated with stronger employees’ commitment, which in turn stimulate creativity and innovation. Using a sample of nearly 18,000 private-sector workplaces in 28 countries, we report conditional correlations between workforce agility and innovation that are consistent with our framework. Establishments with higher workforce agility are more likely to innovate. This relationship is particularly strong in the case of task agility, especially for process innovation. Moreover, the contribution of agility-related practices tends to be weaker (although not absent) in industries where specialized and technical expertise is more relevant for innovation. The analysis of managers’ perceptions about internal working climate and employees’ commitment suggest that its positive effect on innovation is likely to be driven by the fact that workforce agility improves work motivation at the workplace, favouring innovation-oriented behaviours. Managerial and policy implications are discussed.

Keywords: Workforce agility; Task agility; Time agility; Innovation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2021.104423

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