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Exploring The Role Of Front-line Employees As Innovators

Marit Engen, Peter R. Magnusson
Published 2015 · Economics

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This article aims for a deeper understanding of front-line employees (FLEs) and their boundary-spanning role in service organizations’ innovation processes from the vantage points of creativity and service innovation theory. It explores in particular FLEs’ processes of creativity by focusing on how ideas emerge and how these ideas are further managed in the organizations’ innovation processes. It draws on an in-depth empirical study of three units at a large spa and resort hotel. The article demonstrates how FLEs’ ideas are related to the assimilation and utilization of knowledge gained in the customer–supplier interface. Furthermore, it introduces the concept of ‘management by weaving’, which encompasses the middle managers’ roles in the complexity of leading diverse innovation processes in the service organization. By having the roles of facilitator, gatekeeper, and translator, middle managers hold the key position for letting FLEs play the role as innovators.
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