It’s time to measure innovation!

innovSo the time has come where I need to consider how to measure innovation in my research (as well as other constructs I will be looking at). Making such decisions is part of the process of preparing my materials for data collection. I will be doing both qualitative and quantitative data collection via case studies (interviews, focus groups and a quantitative survey) so I will have lots of data to contend with once I am done.

Before Christmas I had given this some thought, but it did get side-lined a little so that my secondary data analyses could progress. I am now at the point where I need to bring up these notes and I need to consider how the whole thing will happen, with specific reference to how I am going to measure the constructs I want to.

So for my own PhD, I have a few main ‘constructs’ or areas I will be measuring. These are:

  • Innovative work behaviours (the main purpose of my PhD);
  • Workplace learning;
  • Organisational culture;
  • Organisational strategy;
  • Other variables influencing innovation

In my own opinion, the most important one is the innovation in my study. If I don’t get this right, then the purpose can be lost and it might end up where I am actually measuring something I have no idea about. Hence the exploration of how innovation can be measured. You may also remember that I found out that there were two types of individual innovation:

  • Individual innovative behaviour: Evaluation of the approach and tools used with the aim of using new ideas and approaches within the workplace (Kleysen & Street, 2001, p.284);
  • Innovative work behaviour: Intentional generation of new ideas within a role, group or organisation whereby the idea is implemented within the organisation once created (Battistelli, Montani & Odardi, 2013, p.27).

I considered this in my PhD planning stages in year 1 and my specific innovation focus became apparent (and very clear) then. My research is exploring how workplace learning can enhance innovation because innovation is important on multiple levels (nationally, sectoral and organisational levels). However, I questioned how differences in innovation related to this. As you can see from the definitions above, innovative work behaviour has focus on intentional changes made to the person or organisation as the purpose for innovation. The innovator would know there and then that they wanted to make a change, and behave in a way to do so. Therefore, it was decided (by myself and agreed by my supervisors) that I would use innovative work behaviour as my main focus. Innovative work behaviour can be enhanced and it was my job to explore how.

Whilst doing a little background reading on scales and measurements, I came across some handy information. This information related well to innovation as it explained how innovative work behaviour was measured – this is the construct for me! So anyway, I stated reading a few articles and an important one appeared -Innovative Work behaviours: Measurement and Validation (de Jong & Den Hartog, 2008) which contained some very striking points about the measurement of innovative work behaviour itself.

By reading this paper and others in preparation for my RD5 review, I discovered that innovation is a multi-dimensional construct. That is, there are several processes involved in being able to innovate and measurements of innovative work behaviour need to consider all stages involved. de Jong & Den Hartog (2008) explore the multi-dimensionality in terms of how other researchers have defined and measured innovative work behaviours and agreed on their own stage process:

  1. The person would realise something new needs creating, or an idea needs developing;
  2. The person would then develop or generate an idea themselves;
  3. Once the idea is generated, the person would need to champion this idea or have someone do it for them so that the idea can break down barriers that might stop it developing, and show the benefits of the idea itself;
  4. The idea is then finally implemented and put into practice (wherever that may be).

For my PhD, I feel it’s important that I consider all stages of the innovation process. This is because I need to ensure that all process are accounted for as we understand that an idea cannot be called an innovation if it is not championed and implemented. Therefore, I need some form of measurement which considers all four stages and the paper by de Jong & Den Hartog (2008) does just that. Now I do have a few other papers to read too as I need to justify why I want to use this measurement and how. However, from reading this paper and some others, it is fairly clear that the objectives of de Jong & Den Hartog, (2008) addressed previous research and they developed the scale based on criticisms of what researchers had done before. Some of the criticisms are as follows:

  • Many researchers suggest that innovation is one single dimension, and develop scales to suit this belief. However if a process has four stages it cannot be singular in dimension and requires further exploration to develop a scale to reflect this.
  • Many researchers also do not test the validity of the scale. Now the validity is how well a test measures what it is designed to measure and this can come in many forms.

For me, why on earth would you develop a scale and not bother testing if it measures what you want it to? Validity helps to justify the development of the scale and whether it does what it is supposed to do. Testing out the convergent and discriminant validity of measurements mean you can see if related variables are supposed to be related, and whether separate variables are actually statistically separate. When measuring innovative work behaviour, this needs to be done to ensure all sages are distinct and that contributions to each stage are related within stages, but not related between stages. This can then help the researcher determine influencing factors in each stage (if required) and have a solid measurement of the stages people go through to be innovative. You can find a nice list of previous research and validity testing on page 8 and 9 of the article by de Jong & Den Hartog (2008), and this clearly demonstrates the need for a validated scale as well as one that is reliable.

So from reading just that one article (supported by others), I already know what I want to measure innovation. I need a measurement that reflects all stages involved from identification of idea need to implementation of the idea created. I need a scale that has been tested for both reliability and validity so that I know it measures what it is supposed to, and I can then have a discussion with my supervisors as to (a) what questions to use and; (b) whether my choices of measurement are fully justified.

References

Battistelli, A., Montani, F., & Odoardi, C. (2013). The impact of feedback from job and task autonomy in the relationship between dispositional resistance to change and innovative work behaviour. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 22(1), 26–41. http://doi.org/10.1080/1359432X.2011.616653

De Jong, J.P.J., & Den Hartog, D.N. (2008) Innovation Work Behaviour: Measurement and Validation. IDEAS Working Paper Series from RePEc. Retrieved from http://ideas.repec.org/p/eim/papers/h200820.html

Kleysen, R. F., & Street, C. T. (2001). Toward a multi-dimensional measure of individual innovative behavior. Journal of Intellectual Capital, 2(3), 284–296. http://doi.org/10.1108/EUM0000000005660

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