HRM and innovation: looking across levels

Helen Shipton, Paul Sparrow, Pawan Budhwar, Alan Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review


Studies are starting to explore the role of HRM in fostering organizational innovation but empirical evidence remains contradictory and theory fragmented. This is partly because extant literature by and large adopts a unitary level of analysis, rather than reflecting on the multi-level demands that innovation presents. Building on an emergent literature focused on HRM’s role in shaping innovation, we shed light on the question of whether, and how, HRM might influence employees’ innovative behaviours in the direction of strategically important goals. Drawing upon institutional theory, our contributions are three-fold: to bring out the effect of two discrete HRM configurations- one underpinned by a control and the other by an entrepreneurial ethos, on attitudes and behaviours at the individual level; to reflect the way in which employee innovative behaviours arising from these HRM configurations coalesce to shape higher-level phenomena, such as organizational-level innovation; and to bring out two distinct patterns of bottom-up emergence, one driven primarily by composition and the other by both composition and compilation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-263
Number of pages18
JournalHuman Resource Management Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2017

Bibliographical note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Shipton, H., Sparrow, P., Budhwar, P., & Brown, A. (2017). HRM and innovation: looking across levels. Human Resource Management Journal, 27(2), 246-263, which has been published in final form at DOI: This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.


  • human resource management
  • innovation
  • multi-level
  • human resource strategy


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