Individual Resilience for Innovation: Does Context Matter?

This year 2018 closes with the good news of the acceptance of an abstract with the above title for the 26th IPDMC – coauthors: Isabella Hatak, Marjolein Caniels and Koen Kuijpers. Which means that we will be presenting the full paper 10/11 June 2019 in Leicester. Very good news and a challenge to write up a nice paper. The abstract relied on data from 62 employees of a Dutch company in transition to improving innovation (wave 1; the three- wave longitudinal data-gathering process will be finished in the first half of 2019), but in 2019 we will also be gathering at least two waves of additional data through cross-industry panel surveys.

Starting point for our study and the paper is that it is an understatement to say that individual resilience is important to organisational outcomes, and not surprisingly scholars have been interested in exploring the issue. Individual resilience has been related to higher levels of job performance and organizational commitment (Meneghel et al., 2016; Youssef & Luthans, 2007) and employee creativity (Huang & Luthans, 2015), but the question of how individual resilience affects innovation behaviour has received little to no attention in the literature. Theoretically, it is possible that individual resilience hinders or improves innovative work behaviour, depending on the organizational environment in which the individual is embedded. In other words, what is functional and dysfunctional in terms of individual characteristics is largely a matter of context, as reflected in the person-environment fit literature (Kristof-Brown et al., 2005). To date, however, no studies address organizational environmental “fit” in terms of enhanced innovative work behaviour for resilient individuals. A key feature of our research is thus the contingency perspective we adopt in exploring the role of resilience for innovation – specifically innovative work behaviour (Janssen, 2000). We draw upon the person-environment fit literature as applied in innovation research (e.g. Choi, 2004; Choi & Price, 2005; Ng & Lucianetti, 2016)

While I will report later on about our (preliminary) findings, I wanted to already share this -for me important- continuation of our research for the next year. Another feat is the start of the development of a book for which I will organise a special session at the 2019 HTSF which will be hosted by my own Department NIKOS on 27-28 May 2019 – but that will be my first post for the new year! Stay tuned.

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Risk & Resilience Festival @Utwente: 8 November 2018


Screen Shot 2018-10-06 at 17.08.27On the 8th of November I will be giving another, very personal speech about my Resilience & Innovation Research at the Risk & Resilience festival at the University of Twente.

Other speakers are Peter Oeij from TNO who joined me last year in Chicago at the special session for PDMA, and Douglas Orton and Kari O’Grady whom I met at the WAM Conference in Salt Lake City earlier this year. As you can see from the program excerpt below, this time my speech will be in Dutch. Check out the rest of the programme here: there are more then 70 speakers on 8 different themes!

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Great news about funding for a research project on resilience, inclusive business, value chains and distributed business models.


It has been silent for a bit too long on this blog, but with good reason: we’ve been busy and it got us funding on a resilience related topic! Read more about it here in the press release.  Obtaining funding from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) is of course and honour and a privilege and in this case gives us the possibility to work with Andre Nijhof from Nyenrode and TNXTO, a small and innovative consultancy on resilience related topics in line with the NWO Sustainable Business Models programme (excerpt taken from NWO DBM-II website):

Sustainable Business Models is transdisciplinary in nature and aimed at collaboration between universities and non-university partners, such as companies, government bodies, societal organisations and public knowledge institutions.

Within the consortia, the research is guided by questions from companies and organisations about the problems they face. From the formulation of the project proposals to the application of the knowledge in everyday practice, researchers, companies, government bodies and organisations work closely together. This co-creation makes it possible to continuously align and adapt research and everyday practice. As a result, the transition from traditional entrepreneurship to sustainable business models is accelerated in the Netherlands.

Five themes

The budget of two million euros is distributed across five consortia  that will contribute to the acceleration of sustainable entrepreneurship in the Netherlands.

Founders and partners

The programme Sustainable Business Models is a joint initiative of the business association Dutch Sustainable Business, academic network Het Groene Brein [in Dutch] and NWO. With this programme, the parties want to accelerate developments with respect to sustainable entrepreneurship in the Netherlands. That is why companies, government bodies, societal organisations and institutions work together in the consortia. Tendris, NEVI, Alliander NV, Stichting Natuur & Milieu, Stichting Phusis, TNO, Netherlands Patent Office, the Province of Zeeland, and the Ministry of Economic Affairs were involved in formulating the research questions that form the focus of the programme.

I am the principle investigator of one of the five consortia, and will be working on this with NIKOS colleagues Ariane von Raesfeld (co-applicant together with Andre Nijhof) and Tamara Oukes (PostDoc) for 2 years. The research proposal focuses on creating design principles for the development of sustainable earnings- and distribution models in the field of Inclusive Innovations. In the research, ten cases are key that all have a link between involving low income groups in developing countries and companies in the Dutch economy. Based on Stewardship Theory it is proposed that three factors lead to the kind of relationships that are needed for the creation of new distributed business models: the need for a common goal, space for growth and the need for transparency and accountability. Understanding, in practice, how this can be done in chain developments towards higher levels of sustainability is an important objective of this research because it creates an action repertoire for the innovation orchestrator, which can then be implemented in other value chains.

Will keep you updated as we progress!

Abstract Accepted: “Investigating ‘critical’ cases of this phenomenon where knowledge workers have endured personal trauma […] is a good starting point to develop a research agenda from”

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This week we received the great news that our abstract was accepted for the 2018 R&D Management Conference which will take place from 2-4 July in Milan, hosted by the Politecnico di Milano.


Not only that was great news, but also that the track proposed by Marjolein Caniels and myself on Resilience and Innovation has as many as 9 accepted contributions! One of which is the one mentioned above. This paper we will now further work on as a first step aims to bring together insights on how (individual) resilience influences innovative work behavior as an important factor of innovation performance after personal trauma. We posit that:

  • individual knowledge workers’ resilience may positively influence their innovative work behavior after adversities/personal trauma

For the empirical part of the paper we aim to interview (academic) knowledge workers and managers/leaders of innovative firms having experienced personal trauma / adversity. We use the employee Resilience Scale by Naswall, Kuntz and Malinen (2015) and the Innovative Work Behaviour Scale by Janssen et al (2000) as the basis for the semi-structured interviews and will use timeline mapping (Kolar et al, 2015) as a method for conducting the interviews to get a grasp on resilience and innovative work behaviour before and after the adversities.

Preliminary results indicate and confirm (among others Bonanno, 2004) that adversity happens more often to individual knowledge workers than we care to admit, and does indeed have an impact on their innovativeness, but also, that (individual) resilience is more common that we think or again care to admit. It also comes out that resilience can be fostered by organisational arrangements, for example team resilience may positively influence individual knowledge workers’ innovativeness and overall team innovation performance after personal trauma of one of the team members and/or after adversities affecting (parts of) the organization(al) context. We therefore draw up and propose an agenda for longitudinal research using twice yearly employee satisfaction surveys, including next to the already mentioned individual resilience and innovative work behavior scales also team resilience (Carmeli et al 2013), team innovation (De Dreu, 2002) and measures for exploitative and explorative innovation (Jansen et al 2006) combined with a number of moderators such as autonomy, positive affect and leadership. At the conference, we hope to be able to show some preliminary results form the first measurement.

We had really good reviewer comments which will be helpful in working this paper out further (deadline: 31 May …. :)). They found it a very original research problem, which could be placed in the broader scope of trying understand how private life of knowledge workers explains their (innovative) performance at work. They also appreciate that we are on rather uncharted grounds, and therefore, positioning amongst the existing literature might in some respects be quite difficult. They conclude by saying that “The methodological approach could be described a bit more clearly, but appears to be appropriate. The authors are investigating ‘critical’ cases of this phenomenon where knowledge workers have endured personal trauma. This is a good starting point to develop a research agenda from.”

So, this is all very encouraging to take the next steps: interview protocol and scales/survey outline. We’ll keep you posted!


  • Carmeli, A., Gelbard, R. and Reiter-Palmon, R. (2013), Leadership, Creative Problem-Solving Capacity, and Creative Performance: The Importance of Knowledge Sharing. Hum. Resour. Manage., 52: 95–121. 
  • Dreu, C. K. W. De. (2002). Team innovation and team effectiveness: The importance of minority dissent and reflexivity. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 11(3), 285–298.
  • Jansen, J.J., F.A. Van Den Bosch, and H.W. Volberda (2006), Exploratory innovation, exploitative innovation, and performance: effects of organizational antecedents and environmental moderators, Management Science , 52 (11), 1661–1674.
  • Janssen, O. (2000), Job demands, perceptions of effort-reward fairness and innovative work behaviour, Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology, 73, 287-302
  • Kolar, K, Farah Ahmad, Linda Chan, Patricia G. Erickson (2015) “Timeline Mapping in Qualitative Interviews: A Study of Resilience with Marginalized Groups” in the International Journal of Qualitative Methods, Volume: 14 issue: 3, page(s): 13-32 July 1, 
  • Näswall, K., Kuntz, J., and Malinen, S. (2015) Employee Resilience Scale (EmpRes): Technical Report. Resilient Organisations Research Report 2015/04. ISSN 1178-7279.

The Concussion Crisis as a case for research on organisational commitment and turnover retention – another interesting WAM 2018 contribution

I promised to report back on more relevant WAM presentations. Here’s one that started off with The Concussion Crisis – for a Dutch person like me it took some on-site googling during the session to understand what that is. See the website here. Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 23.53.11It is about young athletes experiencing sudden health problems, and whether or not the coach or trainer saw it coming and did or did not act upon it on time (making a difference between consciously sending an ill athlete out to perform or unknowingly), and the effect that had on the athletes loyalty to the organisation.

The researchers presenting the abstract titled Is Blood Thicker than Water researched a number of these cases to draw conclusions on organisational commitment and turnover retention. There is some resilience to be found in that too, but what struck me most is to realise how much more is at stake in professional sports then we might think. Check out the abstract below, Jeffery Houghton presented it in Salt Lake City, but the contact person is the first author, Alanna Hirshman.

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WAM 2018 on Resilience and Transformation

It’s been a bit too quiet on the blog lately, but here’s the event I got lots of new inspiration on – check out!

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It had an abundance of contributions on resilience, including one titled “Man Gulch still Burns” and the one below. Will write separate blogs in the next few days! Stay tuned.

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How the creation of visual timelines informs verbal semistructured interviewing – and how this may be useful for researching the relationship between resilience and innovation performance before and after adversities

Timeline_Mapping_in_Qualitative_Interviews__A_Study_of_Resilience_with_Marginalized_GroupsInternational_Journal_of_Qualitative_Methods_-_Kat_Kolar__Farah_Ahmad__Linda_Chan__Patricia_G__EFollowing up on my 1 January post about the new research I am setting up researching the relationship between resilience, individual and team characteristics and sustained innovation performance, I was looking into solving the methodological issue of distinguishing between the situation before and after the adversity in a semi-structured interview.

Working with visual timelines during the interviews may be a viable option. In their article titled “Timeline Mapping in Qualitative Interviews: A Study of Resilience with Marginalized Groups” in the International Journal of Qualitative Methods, Volume: 14 issue: 3, page(s): 13-32 July 1, 2015 (,