SAS Institute (SAS) has sustained innovation via bringing very good technical people who are looking to strike a good work life balance. Furthermore the employees do not have to worry about other things, so they can focus on their jobs. The wellspring of this innovativeness comes from the egalitarian approach taken by the CEO, with a trenchant focus on people, customers, and product. A majority of 80% of suggestions from customers wind up fueling evolutionary changes. This however goes against the grain of some of the motivational theories. In the expectancy theory, we have seen the E( P relationship hold and further it is linked to P(O relationship with the valences that establish the motivation level; however, this model does not seem to hold water with SAS. Instead, a typical SAS programmer by virtue of being the best of breed generates exceptional code with relatively minimal effort. This is emphasized by the fact that the company does not believe in performance appraisals, which debunks the model-connecting outcome to performance.
• Strength: Per Porter et al, the SAS performance can be attributed to abilities and trait, role clarity, and acceptance, and the opportunity to perform. So while we have all the other ingredients that enhance performance, the question is what motivates innovation? I would theorize that the implicit trust laid out by the management is the key driver that is driving innovation.
• Weakness: Sustained revolutionary innovation springs from diversity of thought. The current HR policies seem to squelch diversity by filtering people who could harness revolutionary improvements. Therefore, it may be unlikely for a current SAS R&D thinker to offer an out of the box solution that transcends the status quo. The policies produce a consistent (as opposed to diverse) group by mainly attracting people with similar interests such as families by assuring a work life balance, thus filtering out... [continues]
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