According to extant academic literature employees represent a locus of creativity (e.g. Shalley, Zhou & Oldham, 2004; Amabile, Conti, Coon, Lazenby & Herron, 1996; Amabile, 1996; Oldham & Cummings, 1996). Thus, management of employee participation in innovation is widely discussed, ranging from the HR field to the scholarly circles of psychology and technology management. Still, a common denominator of the current debate is the significance of, yet difficulties to, engage employees to take part in innovative work aside from regular working tasks (e.g. Moosa & Panurach, 2008; Baggen, Biemans & Lans, 2015). The complexity lies in the fact that novel ideas are argued to be the result of non-contractible initiatives that are indirectly and unpredictably connected to employees’ routinized working tasks, hence tapping beyond prescribed responsibilities (Aghion & Tirole, 1994; Hellman & Thiele, 2011; Krasteva, Sharma & Wagman, 2015). This research project accordingly deals with the issues of when and how employees contribute to innovative projects in the organization in order to expore what the nature of the EDI practice implies.
Recent innovation studies have spotlighted all employees, regardless of position, as potential sources of innovation. However, employee led innovation is not an entirely new concept. Management of employees’ creative ideas have long been on managers’ agenda, yet the question is to what extent employees are practically involved from the point of idea generation to idea implementation.