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Job design and employee innovation in the resources sector

Examining and modelling the relationship between job design and employee innovation in the resources sector.

Innovative behaviour in individuals encompasses creativity – broadly considered the generation of ideas - and their ability to implement a new idea/product/service or applying an existing idea/product/service in a novel way (Hammond, Neff, Farr, & Schwall, 2011).

Cerinšek and Dolinšek (2009: 166) define innovative behaviour, termed ‘innovation competency’ as “the disposition of a person to act and react in an innovative manner in order to deal with different critical incidents, problems or tasks that demand innovative thinking and reactions, and which can occur in a certain context”. 

Enhancing our understanding of what fosters innovative behaviour in individual employees is highly relevant to management efforts to enhance organisational performance. This is particularly so for the fluid and rapidly evolving resources sector. An individual’s propensity to innovate is impacted by a number of different factors. In addition to motivation, personality, and contextual influences, job design is considered a significant determinant of individual innovation (Hammond et al., 2011). Job design, according to Hackman and Oldham’s (1980) job characteristics model, encompasses skill variety, task identity, task significance, feedback, and autonomy. 

Research questions

The purpose of this study is to model the influence of job design on the employee innovation process, by examining the relationship between job design, employee innovative behaviour and employee innovation outcomes.

The study will explore whether job design influences individual employee innovative behaviour in the booming Australia mining industry, and the relative importance of job design in relation to typically high remuneration in the resources sector. By examining the relationship between job design and employee innovation, we will contribute to theory in both HRM and innovation areas of research.

The study also has practical implications for the importance of job design as a motivator for organisations and employees, and in facilitating innovation in the resources sector. 

Research methods

The study will adopt a mixed-method approach. Data will be gathered initially via an online survey; our source sample will be identified through the Australian Mines and Metals Association membership database. Structural equation modelling techniques will be used to model the relationship between the different elements of job design on individual innovative behaviour, and innovation outcomes.

Follow-up interviews with Human Resources Management (HRM) personnel from two resource companies will determine the efficacy of job designs in encouraging individuals to be innovative.


Funding body

Faculty of Business and Law, Strategic Research Fund.


October 2012 - Ongoing.

This project is a sub-project of The requirements of innovative practices in the WA resources sector.

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