Managing Sustainable Innovation in the Organisation: The Role of Workers’ Autonomy and Knowledge Management

Waliu M. Adegbite, Emeka E. Okafor, Oluwatomi Adedeji, Oluwafemi S. Akintelu


This study aimed at investigating how firms can manage sustainable innovation through workers’ autonomy and knowledge management. Data for this study was collected from 391 employees working in two brewing firms in Nigeria. Participants were made to respond to questionnaire on workers’ autonomy, knowledge management and innovation. The study was cross-sectional, and it adopted both quantitative and qualitative approach. Semi-structured questionnaire was used to elicit information on impact of workers’ autonomy and knowledge management on firm level innovation (product, process and administrative innovation). In-depth and key informant interviews were conducted using interview guides. Regression was used to analyze data from the quantitative source, while the qualitative data was content analyzed. Workers’ autonomy and knowledge management had positive impact on process and administrative innovation in the two breweries. Autonomy and knowledge management had no impact on product innovation. Findings from in-depth and key informant interviews provide no support and revealed why workers’ autonomy and knowledge management do not have impact on product innovation in the brewing firms but provide support for process and administrative innovation. The practical implication of these findings and recommendations for future research on workers’ autonomy and knowledge management to enhance creativity and innovation were discussed.


Brewing Firms, Firm Innovation, Knowledge Management, Nigeria, Workers Autonomy

Full Text:



Alavi, M., and Leidner, D. E. 2001. Review Knowledge Management and Knowledge Management Systems, Conceptual Foundations and Research Issues, MIS Quarterly, Vol. 25, No.1, p. 107 - 136.

Amabile, T. M. and Fisher, C. M. 2009. Stimulate creativity by fueling passion. p. 481-497 In E. Locke (Ed.) Handbook of Principles of Organizational Behaviour (2nd Edition). John Wiley & Sons: West Sussex, U.K.

Amabile, T. M. 1988. A Model of Creativity and Innovatioon in Organisations. Research in Organisational Behaviour, Vol. 10, p. 123-167.

Amabile, T. M. 1996. Creativity in Context: The Social Psychology of Creativity, Westview Press, United States.

Argote, L. and Ingram, P. 2000. Knowledge transfer: A basis for competitive advantage in Firms. Organisational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes, Vol. 82, Issue 1, P. 150-169

Beugelsdijk, S. 2008. Strategic Human Resource Practices and Product Innovation, Organization Studies, Vol. 29, P. 821-847.

Bukhamsin, M. 2015. Investigating the Relationship between Organizational Innovation Capacity and Firm Performance with Irish SME’s, Dublin Institute of Technology.

Chen, C. and Huang, J. 2009. Strategic Human Resource Management Practices and Innovation Performance – The Mediating Role of Knowledge Management Capacity, Journal of Business Research, Vol. 62, p. 104-114.

Chew, C. H. 2000. Organizational Cultural Characteristics and Innovation: A perspective from Electrical and Electronic Industry in Penang, Journal of Business Research, Vol.51, No.3, p.80-91.

Cohen, W. N., and Levinthal, D. A. 1990. Absorptive capability: A new perspective on learning and innovation. Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 35, P. 1128-1152.

Cropanzano, R., and Mitchell, M.S, 2005. Social exchange theory, An interdisciplinary review Journal of Management, Vol 31, p. 874-900.

Damanpour, F. and Evan, W. M. 1984. Organizational Innovation: A Meta-Analysis of Effect of Determinant and Moderators: Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 34, No. 3, p.555-590.

Delery, J. E. and. Doty, D. H., 1996. Modes of Theorizing in Strategic Human Resource Management: Tests of Universalistic, Contingency, and Configurational Performance Predictions, The Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 39, No. 4, p. 802-835.

Gopalakrishnan, S. and Damanpour, F. 1997. A Review of Innovation Research in Economics, Sociology and Technology Management, Omega International Journal of Management Science, Vol. 25, No. 1, p.15-28.

Gupta, K. A. and Singhal, A. 1993. Managing Human Resources for Innovation and Creativity, Ohio University.

Hackman J. R. and Oldham G. R. 1975. Development of the Job Diagnostic Survey. Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 60, No. 2, p. 159-170.

Huang, J. W. and Li, Y. H., 2009. The Mediating Effect of Knowledge Management on Social Interaction and Innovation Performance, International Journal of Management, Vol.30, No.3, p. 285-301.

Jackson, S. E. and Schuler, R. S. 1995. Understanding Human Resource Management in the Context of Organization and Their Environment. Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 46, No. 1, p.237-260.

Janssen, M. 2014. The Influence of HRM Practices on Innovative Work Behaviour: a Systematic Literature Review, University of Twente,

Jiang, J., Wang, S. and Zhao, S., 2012. Does HRM Facilitate Employee Creativity and Organizational Innovation? A study of Chinese Firms, International Journal of Human Resource Management, Vol. 23, No. 9, p. 4025-4047.

Jimenez-Jimenez, J. and Sanz-Valle, A. 2005. Innovation and Human Resource Management Fit: An Empirical Study. International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 26, No. 4, pp. 264-381.

Karen, B. L. and Mathew, H. J. 2008. Linking Human Resources Management and Innovation: Formulating the Research Design, 22nd ANZAM Conference, Auckland, New Zealand.

Kor, B. and Maden, C. 2013. The Relationship between Knowledge Management and Innovation in Turkish Service and High-Tech Firms. International Journal of Business and Social Science, Vol. 4, No.4, P. 193-204.

Laursen, K. and Foss, N.J. 2012. Human Resource Management Practices and Innovation. Handbook of Innovation Management, edited by Mark Dodgson, David Gann and Nelson Philips. Oxford University Press.

Mumford, M. D. 2000. Managing Creative People. Strategies and Tactics for Innovation, Human Resource Management Review, Vol. 10:3, p. 313-351.

Nonaka I. and Toyama R. 2004. The Knowledge-Creating Theory Revisited: Knowledge Creating as a Synthesizing Process. Knowledge and Process Management Journal, Vol.1, No.1, p. 2-10.

OECD, 2005. The Measurement of Scientific and Technological Activities: Guidelines for Collecting and Interpreting Innovation Data, .Third edition, OECD and Eurosat.

Ogbo, A. and Chukwudi, C. 2012. Evaluating the Challenges of Human Resources Management in Nigeria, European Journal of Business Management, Vol. 4, No 13, p.111- 119.

Oltra, V. and Alegre, J. 2011. Explaining the Link between Human Resource Practices and Innovation Performance: The Role of Organizational Learning Processes”. OLKC Conference, Hull, United Kingdom.

Plessis, M. 2009. The Role of Knowledge Management in Innovation. Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 11, No.4, p. 20-29.

Rui, S. 2013. Creating Innovative Behaviours among R & D Professionals: The Effect of Innovative Climate and Employee Motivation in Chinese Firm, Advance in Information Science and Service Science, Vol. 5, No. 4, p. 432-440.

Rui, S. and Ying, X. 2001. Creating Supportive Environment for Innovation: A Conceptual Metal Study, Chinese Academy of Personnel Science, Beijing, Province, China.

Sauermann, H. and Cohen, W. M. 2008. What Makes them Tick? Employees Motives and Firm Innovation, NBER Working Paper, N. 14443.

Scott, S. G. and Bruce, R.A. 1994. Determinants of Innovative Behaviours: A Path Model of Innovation in the Workplace, Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 37, No. 3, P. 580-607.

Scott, G., Leritz, L. E., and Mumford, M. D. 2004. The Effectiveness of Creativity Training: A Quantitative Review. Creativity Research Journal, Vol. 16, No.4, p. 361-388.

Shipton, H., Fay, D., West, M., Petterson, M. and Birdi, K. 2005. Managing People to Promote Innovation, Creativity and Innovative Management, Organisational Behaviour Journal Vol. 4, No. 2, p. 118-128.

Song J. H., Ujm D. and, Kim J. 2012. Creativity and Knowledge Creation Practices in the School Context: The Moderating Role of Task-Related Job Autonomy. Performance Improvement Quarterly, Vol. 24, No.4, p. 61-79.

Tan, C. L., and Nasurdin, A. M. 2010. Human Resource Management Practices and Organizational Innovation: An Empirical Studies in Malaysia, Journal of Applied Business Research, Vol. 26, No.4, p.105-116.

Tsai, M. T. 2010. Innovation Capability and Performance in Taiwanese Science Parks: Exploring the Moderating Effects of Industrial Clusters Fabric. The International Journal of Organisational Innovation, Vol. 2, Issue 4, P. 80-103.

Vicari S. and Troilo, G. 2000. Organisational Creativity: A New Perspective from Cognitive System Theory. In G. von Krogh, I. Nonaka, and T. Nishiguchi (Eds.), Knowledge Creation: A Source of Value London, p. 63-88, UK: Macmillan Press.

Wang A. C. and Cheng B.S. 2010. When does Benevolent Leadership Lead to Creativity: The Moderating Role of Creative Role Identity and Job Autonomy. Journal of Organisational Behaviour, Vol. 31, No.1, p. 106-121.

Wiig, K. M. 1997. Knowledge Management: Where did it Come from and Where will it go? Expert Systems with Applications, Vol.14, Issue 5, P. 67-78.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.