Are new organisations at the cutting edge of employment relations innovation?
journal contributionposted on 10.07.2018, 00:00 by D Peetz, Olav MuurlinkOlav Muurlink, K Townsend, A Wilkinson, M Brabant
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore differences in the degree of innovation in employment relations (ER) between emerging and established firms. Design/methodology/approach A large national telephone survey (N=1,416) of both emerging (<5 years) and established firms was conducted. Findings Emerging firms were more casualised, less unionised, and experiencing higher levels of market expansion and unpredictability. Despite these differences, younger firms showed otherwise remarkable similarity to older firms across a range of ER practices, and both categories showed a reliance on business networks, rather formal training, for ER knowledge. While introducing ER changes more rapidly than older (and larger) firms, they were converging towards a suite of ER practices similar to that adopted by older firms. The results suggest that, if anything, established firms may have been engaged in greater innovation in more unusual ER practices. Research limitations/implications Only managers were surveyed. The data are cross-sectional rather than longitudinal. As the study was undertaken in only one country, replication in other settings would be desirable. Originality/value The results raise major doubts about the notion that new firms represent the cutting edge of innovation, and highlights the degree to which newer firms match or mimic older firms’ ER architecture.