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The Importance of Sectoral Differences in the Application of (Complementary) HRM Practices for Innovation Performance


  • Keld Laursen


Recent theoretical and empirical analysis in the field of economic organisation has focussed almost exclusively on identifying organisational practices and complementarities between such practices, invariant to the type of activity in question. However, this paper takes its point of departure in the observation from organisational theory that more knowledge-intensive production activities often involve higher degrees of strategic uncertainty for firms and performance ambiguity in relation to individual employees. Therefore, the “organic” or “clan” form of organisation — involving the application of “new” HRM practices — is expected to yield a higher outcome in terms of performance within knowledge-intensive sectors of the economy, as compared to other sectors. Moreover, knowledge-intensive activities are likely to require the utilisation of local knowledge to a higher degree than less knowledge-intensive activities. Given that the application of new HRM practices is one way of supporting such local knowledge, it should also for this reason be expected that the application of HRM practices are more effective for knowledge-intensive production activities. A sample of 726 Danish firms with more than 50 employees in manufacturing and private services is applied. The results show that HRM practices are more effective in influencing innovation performance when applied together, rather than when applied alone. In other words, organisational complementarities obtain. Moreover, it is shown that the application of (complementary) HRM practices is more effective in what is normally perceived to be more knowledge-intensive sectors as compared to less knowledge-intensive sectors.

Suggested Citation

  • Keld Laursen, 2001. "The Importance of Sectoral Differences in the Application of (Complementary) HRM Practices for Innovation Performance," DRUID Working Papers 01-11, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:aal:abbswp:01-11

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Chia-Chien Hsu & Chiung-Shu Cheng & Ching-Torng Lin, 2017. "The Influence of Learning Orientation and Human Resource Practices on Firm Innovativeness and Innovations: An Application of the Push and Pull Framework," Journal of Economics and Management, College of Business, Feng Chia University, Taiwan, vol. 13(1), pages 27-51, February.
    2. Jesús Perdomo & Oswaldo Heredia & Carlos Valencia & Javier González y Jesús Galende, 2011. "La gestión de recursos humanos enfocada en la calidad total y la innovación," VNIVERSITAS ECONÓMICA 008303, UNIVERSIDAD JAVERIANA - BOGOTÁ.
    3. Antonioli, Davide & Mancinelli, Susanna & Mazzanti, Massimiliano, 2013. "Is environmental innovation embedded within high-performance organisational changes? The role of human resource management and complementarity in green business strategies," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 975-988.
    4. Arnaldo Camuffo, 2002. "The Changing Nature of Internal Labor Markets," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 6(4), pages 281-294, December.
    5. Peter Nielsen & Bengt-Åke Lundvall, 2003. "Innovation, Learning Organizations and Industrial Relations," DRUID Working Papers 03-07, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
    6. Nicolai Foss, 2002. "'Coase vs Hayek': Economic Organization and the Knowledge Economy," International Journal of the Economics of Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(1), pages 9-35.
    7. Katou Anastasia, 2008. "Innovation and Human Resource Management: the Greek Experience," Organizacija, De Gruyter Open, vol. 41(3), pages 81-90, May.
    8. repec:wsi:ijimxx:v:21:y:2017:i:01:n:s1363919617500037 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Foss, Nicolai J. & Laursen, Keld, 2005. "Performance pay, delegation and multitasking under uncertainty and innovativeness: An empirical investigation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 246-276, October.
    10. Marcin W. Staniewski, 2011. "Management of Human Resources in the Aspect of Innovativeness," Contemporary Economics, University of Finance and Management in Warsaw, vol. 5(1), March.
    11. Santiago, Fernando & Alcorta, Ludovico, 2012. "Human resource management for learning through knowledge exploitation and knowledge exploration: Pharmaceuticals in Mexico," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 530-546.
    12. Anker Lund Vinding, 2006. "Absorptive capacity and innovative performance: A human capital approach," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(4-5), pages 507-517.
    13. Craig Boardman & Denis Gray, 2010. "The new science and engineering management: cooperative research centers as government policies, industry strategies, and organizations," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 35(5), pages 445-459, October.
    14. Herrera, Liliana & Muñoz-Doyague, Maria Felisa & Nieto, Mariano, 2010. "Mobility of public researchers, scientific knowledge transfer, and the firm's innovation process," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 63(5), pages 510-518, May.
    15. Marius-Dan Dalotă, 2013. "SMS’s INNOVATION AND HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT," Romanian Economic Business Review, Romanian-American University, vol. 8(3.1), pages 203-210, September.
    16. MIRONESCU, Alexandra & STEPIEN, Sebastian, 2012. "SMSs INNOVATION AND HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT," Holistic Marketing Management Journal, Holistic Marketing Management, vol. 2(4), pages 26-32, September.
    17. Ari Jantunen & Kaisu Puumalainen & Sami Saarenketo & Kalevi Kyläheiko, 2005. "Entrepreneurial Orientation, Dynamic Capabilities and International Performance," Journal of International Entrepreneurship, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 223-243, September.
    18. 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.

    More about this item


    human resource management practices; organisational complementarities; innovation performance;

    JEL classification:

    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights


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