Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to conceptually demonstrate that the relationship between turnover and innovation is not direct as some research suggests, but rather indirect, with organizational learning as the prerequisite social mechanism that ties the two phenomena together. Design/methodology/approach – This paper integrates research across a number of related areas to develop a model of the immediate and indirect organizational consequences of different rates of knowledge worker turnover. Findings – The paper finds that certain conditions and mechanisms must first be in place to pave the way to innovation. Grounded in social capital theory, this paper describes how turnover rates and organizational learning can be curvilinearly related with respect to ambidextrous learning; how betweenness centrality and learning culture can moderate this relationship; and why organizational learning should mediate the turnover‐innovation relationship. Research limitations/implications – Faulty decisions based on simplified beliefs place organizational performance in a precarious position. Studies must consider how changes in personnel affect activities where interpersonal relationships are critical. Turnover that beneficially breathes diversity, critical evaluation, and creativity should result in benefits that more than offset its costs. Originality/value – By taking an in‐depth look at previously disconnected research, the paper offers a unified model that more accurately depicts the processes and outcomes that intercede and explain how knowledge worker turnover rates come to influence innovation.
The Learning Organization – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 6, 2009
Keywords: Organizational culture; Innovation; Knowledge management; Employees; Workplace training; Employee turnover
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