The Role of Social Exchange Relationships in Facilitating Individual Innovative Performance




Brooks-Shesler, Luke

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As organizations turn to innovation as a way to cope with global competition and economic uncertainty, understanding how to measure and predict individual innovative performance at work has become more important. Current measures of individual innovative performance tend to confound related, but distinct aspects of individual innovative performance, leading to inconsistent or ambiguous findings. This research aims to advance our understanding of individual innovative performance in the following ways. First, individual factors (e.g., task domain expertise, openness to experience, and political skill) were investigated in order to determine whether these factors differentially predict how an employee is innovative based on the nine dimensions of individual innovative performance identified by Brooks-Shesler and Tetrick (2010): problem identification, idea generation, idea solicitation, idea evaluation, experimentation, idea promotion, innovation promotion, innovation adoption, and resource acquisition. Second, the role of social exchange relationships in promoting individual innovative performance was investigated. Participants in this study were 860 individuals who worked 30 or more hours per week and who were located in the United States and India. Findings suggest that individual factors were more important than the quality of the social exchange relationship in promoting individual innovative performance. Political skill was positively related to all aspects of individual innovative performance, while openness to experience and expertise were positively related to at least three aspects of individual innovative performance. In contrast, the quality of the social exchange relationship was positively related only to idea solicitation. Furthermore, the quality of the social exchange relationship was negatively related to resource acquisition and unrelated to the other aspects of individual innovative performance. Implications of these findings and paths for future research are discussed.



Psychology, Creativity, Expertise, Innovation, Openness to experience, Political skill, Social exchange