Dissertation Abstracts

The Employment Relation and Innovative Work Behavior

Author: De Spiegelaere, Stan , stan.despiegelaere@kuleuven.be
Department: HIVA
University: KU Leuven, Belgium
Supervisor: Geert Van Hootegem
Year of completion: 2014
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Innovative Behaviour , Flexible Work , Quality of Work , Employee Relations
Areas of Research: Organization , Work , Labor Movements


Innovation is a modern business and policy imperative. If countries and companies wish to attain durable competitiveness, the stress should not only be on working harder or better, but also on working smarter. At the same time policy makers develop parallel strategies for competitiveness focused on flexible labour. The intensified use of non-standard contract, flexible pay and flexible working times should result in a cost-reduction. European policy makers consider these two strategies as compatible or even strengthening each other on the individual level. Flexible labour would lead to more flexible, innovative employee behavior. In this dissertation we study the compatibility of these two strategies on the individual level using the following general research question: are employees in flexible labour conditions more or less innovative and engaged than employees in standard labour conditions? Using survey data, we statistically tackle this general question by focusing on the effect of: job insecurity, flexible pay schemes and flexible time schemes. The results show that flexible labour (flexible employment relations) are not positively related to innovative behavior. Job insecurity stands in a negative relation, the effect of flexible pay is complex and depends on third factors while the relation of flexible working times is almost irrelevant. The difference in employee behavior is made in the job design and more concretely by giving employees enough say about how they will perform their job tasks (job autonomy). We conclude that, on the individual level, the two given strategies are not compatible, focusing on labour flexibility risks to offset targets regarding innovation.