In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Innovative Behavior

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Definition
  • Theoretical Perspectives
  • Team Innovation
  • Cultural Differences

Management Innovative Behavior
Feirong Yuan, Dennis J. Marquardt
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 June 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0054


The value of innovation for organizational success is widely accepted. Innovative behavior refers to the introduction and application of new ideas, products, processes, and procedures to a person’s work role, work unit, or organization. Innovative behavior can be carried out both by an individual organizational member or groups of individuals within an organization. It is a broader concept than creativity and encompasses a variety of behaviors involved in the generation, promotion, and implementation of new ideas. Management research on innovative behavior focuses on the human aspect, rather than the technical aspect, of innovation. With its focus on human behaviors and processes, this body of work applies theories from disciplines such as psychology and sociology to understand situations and factors that influence the innovative behavior of individual employees and groups of employees in the organizational setting. Different theoretical perspectives are reflected in this literature and can be evaluated to understand the vantage points through which management scholars study innovative behavior. A great amount of research has been focused on identifying factors that may encourage and enable employees to demonstrate innovative behavior at work. Frequently studied topics include individual characteristics, motivation, and affect, as well as contextual antecedents such as organizational culture, job characteristics, leadership, and social relationships. Innovative behavior can also occur at the group level, which led to a stream of research on team innovation. Studies on team innovation shed light on innovative behaviors and processes that are unique to the team environment. Moreover, studying innovative behavior cross-culturally provides critical knowledge in a global economy and yet, at the same time, presents its own challenges. In this bibliography, we review major research studies on each of these important issues.

General Overviews

Several reviews of the topic exist. Van de Ven 1986 offers an overarching view of the major issues to consider when managing the process of innovation in organizations. West and Farr 1989 describes the early literature on workplace innovation as a jungle of inconsistent findings. These authors urged researchers to adopt more individual and social psychological orientations when studying innovation, and presented an early and important theoretical model on individual innovative behavior. Wolfe 1994 presents a critical review of the innovation research at that time and identifies important directions for future research. Anderson, et al. 2004 and Anderson, et al. 2014 are two reviews to read for the literature on innovative behavior published from 1997 to 2014. These two reviews provide comprehensive guides to the recent literature on innovative behavior. In addition, Kanter 1983 is a seminal book that provides rich analyses on the innovation process at work and the management issues involved. This reading is suitable for both academic researchers and practitioners. West and Farr 1990 is an edited book that integrates various perspectives to study innovation at different levels, including several chapters devoted to individual innovative behavior and innovative behavior in groups.

  • Anderson, Neil, Carsten K. W. De Dreu, and Bernard A. Nijstad. “The Routinization of Innovation Research: A Constructively Critical Review of the State-of-the-Science.” Journal of Organizational Behavior 25.2 (2004): 147–173.

    DOI: 10.1002/job.236E-mail Citation »

    A comprehensive review of innovation research published from 1997 to 2002; reviews key anteceding variables for innovation at the individual, group, and organization levels; recommends future directions including studying innovation as an independent variable, adopting cross-cultural and multi-level approaches, using meta-analysis, and triangulation of research methods.

  • Anderson, Neil, Kristina Potočnik, and Jing Zhou. “Innovation and Creativity in Organizations: A State-of-the-Science Review, Prospective Commentary, and Guiding Framework.” Journal of Management 40.5 (2014): 1297–1333.

    DOI: 10.1177/0149206314527128E-mail Citation »

    A comprehensive review of research on creativity and innovation published from 2002 to 2013. The authors proposed an integrative definition for creativity and innovation, and presented detailed themes and research questions that need to be studied in the future.

  • Kanter, Rosabeth M. The Change Masters: Innovation for Productivity in the American Corporation. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983.

    E-mail Citation »

    A seminal book on innovative behavior and innovation processes in organizations. Both academic researchers and non-academic readers should be able to understand and benefit from it.

  • Van de Ven, Andrew H. “Central Problems in the Management of Innovation.” Management Science 32.5 (1986): 590–607.

    DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.32.5.590E-mail Citation »

    An early and important review that provides a big picture of the issues and challenges involved in workplace innovation.

  • West, Michael A., and James L. Farr. “Innovation at Work: Psychological Perspectives.” Social Behaviour 4.1 (1989): 15–30.

    E-mail Citation »

    Proposes a theoretical model of individual innovation at work, which identifies individual characteristics, job characteristics, group, leadership, and organizational factors that might facilitate individual innovation.

  • West, Michael A., and James L. Farr, eds. Innovation and Creativity at Work: Psychological and Organizational Strategies. Chichester, UK: Wiley, 1990.

    E-mail Citation »

    The first two chapters of this book provide an overview of previous research on innovative behavior. Chapters 3 to 5 address the issue of innovative behavior at the individual and group levels. Chapter 15 also addresses the innovation process in groups.

  • Wolfe, Richard A. “Organizational Innovation: Review, Critique and Suggested Research Directions.” Journal of Management Studies 31.3 (1994): 405–431.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6486.1994.tb00624.xE-mail Citation »

    This insightful review analyzes three streams of research on workplace innovation. The author identifies four important issues that have contributed to the underdeveloped state of innovation research, many of which are still relevant after twenty years.

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