For many years, we have been trying to understand why some work groups are more innovative than others even though they sit in the same departmental and corporate infrastructures as one another. Under-standing why some are more innovative is the key to unlocking the larger problem of increasing overall company innovativeness. The research in this study points to the underlying role of HR practices and the social capital of the working group as keys to increasing innovation capability.
Overall, a work unit’s chance of success in creating innovation at a departmental level depends on:
- the ability of employees within the work group to effectively share knowledge with one another, which is dependent on knowing who knows what within the group and developing a high level of trust between group members;
- the ability of the team to get access to key knowledge from outside the members of the work group, providing the team with new thinking and novel information and preventing the group from being too mired in its own way of thinking (preventing the not-invented-here syndrome);
- access to tangible resources increases the effectiveness of access to knowledge by providing the group the financial, equipment, and physical resources necessary to further develop new ideas; and
- a set of social-capital-enhancing HR practices seems to be one key way to increase the social capital and social context of the work teams that are more consistently innovative – these practices create both the skill and the will in employees in the work group to develop and foster social capital.