Document Type


Publication details

Xerri, MJ & Brunetto Y 2012, 'Social exchange and innovative behaviour of nursing employees: a hierarchical linear examination', paper presented to International Research Society for Public Management Conference: Contradictions in Public Management. Managing in volatile times, Rome, Italy, 11-13 April.

Peer Reviewed



During the past decade research examining employee innovative behaviour has become a popular focus for both practitioners and researchers alike. The interest in developing innovative behaviour can be attributed to the argument that innovative behaviour can lead to a competitive advantage. Innovative behaviour is considered as a management driven process, which facilitates an employee’s ability to identify and solve workplace problems. As such, organisations that can foster the innovative behaviour of employees effectively develop a framework to improve organisational efficiency and effectiveness. Therefore, while the importance of innovative behaviour has been well established, there is still a lack of empirical knowledge examining the innovative behaviour of nursing employees. This research study uses Social Exchange Theory (SET) as a theoretical lens for examining two antecedents of nursing employees’ innovative behaviour. In particular, this study examines the impact of Perceived Organisational Support (POS) and interactional justice upon the innovative behaviour of nursing employees. To clarify, interactional justice is referred to as an employee’s perception of fairness regarding the relationships and exchanges they have with their colleagues. On the other hand, POS is referred to as an employee’s perception of how much their employing organisation values their contribution and overall well-being.

This study uses a mixed methods approach to examine the overarching research question, applying a sequential explanatory design. The sequential explanatory mixed methods design prescribes that the quantitative data is collected and analysed first, from which the qualitative measures can be developed. More specifically, in the context of this research the interview questions can be developed from the survey findings. Therefore, the qualitative data is used to supplement and build upon the quantitative findings. A survey of 104 public sector nurses was undertaken and the data was analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). Following the quantitative data analysis, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 nursing unit managers (nursing supervisors). The results from the examination provide support for the hypotheses, confirming that POS and interactional justice impact upon the innovative behaviour of nursing employees. As a result, the findings from this study provide insight into the role of workplace relationships in fostering the innovative behaviour of nursing employees. In summary, this research provides new implications for management seeking to foster and develop the innovative behaviour of employees.