There is little research on HRM practices in knowledge-intensive firms (KIFs), especially in comparison to that conducted in traditional production environments. Whether such HRM practices are appropriate for KIFs, particularly ones that differentiate themselves on their ability to innovate, is the basis of this research. The study investigates the HRM practices being used by four innovative firms: two KIFs and two traditional production companies. The findings suggest that there are some similarities between the HRM practices of the case firms, but there are also important differences. Specifically, the KIFs emphasise use of selection criteria and processes that secure a workforce with a desire for challenging work and the ability to work collaboratively. The KIFs are also more likely to provide a breadth of training and development opportunities for teams and individuals, to make extensive use of performance management systems, and to utilise a range of strategies to encourage and reward innovation.
Keywords: human resource management, HRM, innovation, knowledge-intensive firms, KIF, case study, R&D, production firms, HRM practices