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Utilitarianism or romanticism: the effect of rewards on employees' innovative behaviour


  • Yu Zhou
  • Yingying Zhang
  • Ángeles Montoro-Sánchez


Purpose - The aim of this paper is to empirically explore the relationship between human resource rewards management and innovative behaviours, particularly between the utilitarianism and romanticism reward approaches and employee creativity in the workplace. Design/methodology/approach - The paper adopts a quantitative approach. After analysing construct validity and reliability, the study empirically tests its hypotheses by performing a multi-regression analysis with a sample of 216 individuals. Findings - The study reaches three main conclusions. First, tangible extrinsic rewards affect the innovative behaviour of employees in an “inverse-U” shape. Second, intrinsic motivations have a substantially positive impact on the innovative behaviour of employees. And third, extrinsic rewards and intrinsic motivations have positive interaction effects on individual creativity at the workplace. Originality/value - The paper focuses on the theoretical battle between the utilitarianism and the romanticism perspective of human resource reward approaches toward employees' creativity. Based on examination of the main effects of monetary incentives and intrinsic reward practices respectively, the study highlights a complementary view to explore a positive interaction between the two reward configurations, and to exploit a total reward system for facilitating individual innovative behaviours.

Suggested Citation

  • Yu Zhou & Yingying Zhang & Ángeles Montoro-Sánchez, 2011. "Utilitarianism or romanticism: the effect of rewards on employees' innovative behaviour," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 32(1), pages 81-98, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:ijmpps:v:32:y:2011:i:1:p:81-98

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Keld Laursen & Nicolai J. Foss, 2003. "New human resource management practices, complementarities and the impact on innovation performance," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(2), pages 243-263, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Faris Nasif ALSHUBIRI, 2013. "Exploring the Relationship between Human Capital Investment and Corporate Financial Performance of Jordanian Industrial Sectors," Economia. Seria Management, Faculty of Management, Academy of Economic Studies, Bucharest, Romania, vol. 16(2), pages 277-285, December.
    2. Mavis Chen & Carol Lin & Hsing-Er Lin & Edward McDonough, 2012. "Does transformational leadership facilitate technological innovation? The moderating roles of innovative culture and incentive compensation," Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Springer, vol. 29(2), pages 239-264, June.


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