Study: Employee Engagement Drives Innovation

Posted: Updated:
Mike Goldsby (photo courtesy of Ball State Magazine) Mike Goldsby (photo courtesy of Ball State Magazine)

A new Ball State University study suggests companies that place a higher emphasis on their employees may be more innovative and entrepreneurial. The study, "Social reactiveness and innovation: The impact of stakeholder salience on corporate entrepreneurship," examined 200 senior-level managers and developed a social proactivness scale which measured a manager's priorities toward internal and external issues. Mike Goldsby, executive director for the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise at Ball State, led the study and says companies that were more proactive on internal social issues saw greater innovation.

The study was done in conjunction with researchers from Indiana University, New Mexico State University, Iowa State University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Goldsby said the results of the study were surprising.

"What drove innovation was socially-proactive, ethically-driven companies on the way they treat their people, on their HR practices," said Goldsby. "Essentially, the key finding is that if you want to drive innovation, be people oriented and as the people are taken care of, if you've got a progressive, inclusive and supportive internal culture, then people are going to be more engaged and there's going to be more innovations coming."

Goldsby says while external social issues may not necessarily drive innovation, that doesn't mean they're not important. That category includes issues such as external environmental policies, community relations, and employees' involvement in community groups and functions outside of the company. 

Goldsby is also the chief entrepreneurship officer and the distinguished professor of entrepreneurship at Ball State. He adds in today's business environment, if a company wants to maintain competitiveness, it is very much driven by innovation and creativity. 

"The best place to start is looking to your people," said Goldsby. "One finding in a previous study I did that I think really plays out here is people will be as committed to the company as they feel supported by the managers and by the organization. So if you want committed, engaged, innovative people, and as we know that innovation usually comes from a lot of people, not just one person, if you want that to happen then you really need to think about how to treat your people well and make them feel that the company cares about them."

The study was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Small Business Strategy. You can view the study below:

Goldsby said the results of the study were surprising.
  • Perspectives

    • Mitigating Your Company’s Cybersecurity Risk

      Frequently, I encounter people who think that a software developer understands all languages and can “fix” anything tech related. While that may be true for a few, areas of expertise within tech evolve as rapidly as the technology itself. For instance, there was a time (not long ago) when operating in the cloud was revolutionary. Today, it is considered best practices for some or all of an organization to function within a cloud. Managed information technology began with...



Company Name:
Confirm Email:
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections


  • Most Popular Stories

    • (photo courtesy of the town of Plainfield)

      Plainfield Breaks Ground on Parking Structure

      The first piece of a redevelopment plan for downtown Plainfield is underway. City and community leaders have broken ground on the new Downtown Plainfield Parking Structure, which is expected to be complete in the late summer or early fall of 2020.

    • Tony Bates previously worked for companies including Skype, Microsoft and Cisco.

      Genesys Names New CEO

      California-based Genesys has selected former Skype CEO Tony Bates as its new chief executive officer. The company, which employs more than 800 in Indianapolis, says Bates' predecessor, Paul Segre, will continue as chairman.

    • The Waterside project aims to transform 100-acres of the former GM Stamping Plant site. (photo courtesy of Ambrose Property Group)

      Ambrose, Glick Partner on Waterside

      Indianapolis-based Ambrose Property Group has announced a key partnership for the redevelopment of the former GM Stamping Plant in downtown Indianapolis. The commercial real estate firm is teaming up with the Gene B. Glick Co. to build and manage apartments as part of the $1.4 billion mixed-use redevelopment project. Ambrose says the partnership is also part of plans to catalyze "philanthropic and community-centric strategies to strengthen Indianapolis." The firm also...

    • I-65 INDOT construction map

      I-65 Construction Update

      Construction work is scheduled to start next week on I-65 near downtown Indianapolis. Indiana Department of Transportation crews will begin to clean up the interstates after two years of freeze/thaw cycles. Crews will be working in segments, including patching and repaving work. INDOT crews will begin work in earnest on northbound and southbound in segments, beginning on weekend nights from April 26 through August.  

    • (photo courtesy Dax Norton)

      Whitestown Tops Indiana's Fastest-Growing Communities

      The Indiana Business Research Center at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business says Whitestown in Boone County is Indiana's fastest-growing community for the eighth consecutive year. The center says the town's population nearly tripled, from 3,132 in 2010 to 8,627 last year. Westfield in Hamilton County is not far behind. Its population grew 5.2 percent in 2018, according to information reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. Other communities on the list include...