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Title: The dynamics of innovation efforts in the early career

Although innovation is highly valued in organizations, early‐career professionals face a paradox of bringing in novel ideas, yet having varied latitude and support to see these new ideas through. Building on 35 critical‐incident‐based interviews with early‐career engineers in the United States, this study illuminates the socially situated dynamics of their innovation efforts, examining the process of such promotive proactive behaviour. We find that all participants reported some engagement in creating, championing and implementing new ideas, typically in the form of self‐initiated improvements to the tools and processes participants used in their jobs. Encouragement from direct supervisors, supportive organizational cultures and practices, job scope, time afforded and one's perceived status were key considerations in determining whether to take such initiative. Carrying out innovative work behaviours, in turn, was largely dependent on continued employee initiative and ad hoc, informal cooperation, with individual effort punctuated by influential interactions with others that often determined the perceived valence of efforts. The study adds to understanding the social interactions and perceptions of voice required for innovative work behaviour, revealing when and to whom these prerequisites are afforded. Implications for organizations' innovation capacity and new hires' participation in innovation are discussed.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Creativity and Innovation Management
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 80-99
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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