Motivation fatigue as a threat to innovation: Bypassing the productivity dilemma in R&D by cyclic production

Document Type

Journal Article


Imperial College Press

Place of Publication

United Kingdom


School of Business and Law




Originally published as: Mattsson, J., Helmersson, H., & Stetler, K. (2016). Motivation Fatigue As A Threat To Innovation: Bypassing The Productivity Dilemma In R&D By Cyclic Production. International Journal of Innovation Management, 20(02), 1650018. Original article available here.


What do employees need in order to be innovative? In this paper, we explored how employees with different lengths of tenure within the research and development (R&D) department of a company in the automotive industry answer this question. We found that the needs vary depending on the length of the employee's tenure. New employees view innovation as an organisational work issue and employees with longer tenure seek the support of management in changing the work situation themselves in a way that will enhance innovation. In contrast, employees who have been with the company over 10 years show signs of resignation and blame management for the problems around innovation that they experience. However, one opinion that all groups of different tenures share is that there is not enough time to engage in innovation activities. To address some of these different needs, we suggest viewing productivity as a cycle of two outcomes: product information and knowledge creation. When one is low, the other peaks, and vice versa. This view of dual value creation in R&D is one way to bypass the productivity dilemma.