Hiding Practices in Employee-User Innovation

42 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2015 Last revised: 2 Feb 2023

See all articles by Mia Rosa Koss Hartmann

Mia Rosa Koss Hartmann

Copenhagen Business School, Department of Management, Society and Communication; Copenhagen Business School

Rasmus Koss Hartmann

Copenhagen Business School

Date Written: November 18, 2022

Abstract

Recent research has demonstrated that employees can develop novel solutions to work-process-related problems that they experience directly, but in order for organizations to benefit from this form of user innovation (“employee-user innovation”), employee-developed innovations need to diffuse within the innovator’s organization. This paper challenges the prevalent assumption in studies of employee-user innovation that employee-users readily reveal and diffuse their innovations. Based on a grounded analysis of 117 innovations developed by rank-and-file workers that we identified during 32 months of ethnographic fieldwork in two police units and two military units in Denmark, we show that employee-users frequently invest considerable effort in actively hiding their innovations. We (i) identify four distinct hiding practices that employee-user innovators enact, (ii) demonstrate how decisions about whether and how to hide are based on interpretations of a range of material and organizational conditions, and (iii) show how these decisions negatively impact the employee-user innovation process by impeding not just use and diffusion, but also development and implementation of innovations. Our findings carry implications for user innovation research, as well as for how we understand both covert innovation processes in organization and the relationship between bureaucratic organization and innovation.

Keywords: Bureaucracy, Innovation, Innovation hiding, Ethnography, Police, Military

Suggested Citation

Hartmann, Mia Rosa Koss and Hartmann, Rasmus Koss, Hiding Practices in Employee-User Innovation (November 18, 2022). Research Policy, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2699355 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2699355

Mia Rosa Koss Hartmann

Copenhagen Business School, Department of Management, Society and Communication ( email )

Dalgashave 15
Frederiksberg, DK-2000
Denmark

Copenhagen Business School ( email )

Solbjerg Plads 3
Frederiksberg C, DK - 2000
Denmark

Rasmus Koss Hartmann (Contact Author)

Copenhagen Business School ( email )

Solbjerg Plads 3
Frederiksberg C, DK - 2000
Denmark

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