Innovation vs. Emulation – Treating HR as a “Decision Science”

Rewards practitioners must make decisions as to the types of strategies they formulate and the programs they design to support strategy. A critical issue is whether to maintain internal consistency. Another is whether to emulate what other organizations do or to innovate.

Both the internal consistency versus customization and the external emulation versus innovation decisions are explored. The objective is to treat HR as a “decision science” and to provide a framework for making informed decisions about the type of rewards strategies and programs that will be utilized.

“What works, is what fits” is a guiding principle that should be taken seriously. What fits the mission, culture, internal and external realities, strategy and structure is what will likely be effective. Therefore, it is wise to assess the characteristics of the context within which a rewards strategy will be implemented and administered, to provide a basis for deciding what will fit.

Decisions should be informed by all relevant evidence. What other organizations are doing and how effectively their strategies are working is certainly information to consider. What other parts of the same organization are doing should be an input as well. Research study results in the field should be incorporated into decision-making, as this will provide a conceptual framework to use in formulating strategy.

Finally, creativity should be applied when no clear path is evident from what others have done. Effective innovation requires an understanding of organizational context and a clear notion of the objectives for any strategy, including rewards strategy. It also requires the conceptual base that theory and research can provide.

Emulate or innovate… but in all cases, do what fits the context and the objectives, devoid of a bias that one is always better than the other. 

An excerpt from “Rewards Strategies and Programs: Innovation vs. Emulation” by Robert J. Greene, PhD, CCP, CBP, GRP, SPHR, GPH. Email to request a copy of the executive summary.