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Helen Shipton

Helen Shipton


Nottingham Business School

Staff Group(s)
Department of Human Resource Management Nottingham Civic Exchange


Helen Shipton is Professor of International Human Resource Management and Co-Director of the Centre of People, Work and Organisational Practice (CPWOP). Helen is Co-Vice Chair of the British Academy of Management responsible for Conference Affairs and Capacity-Building and UK Ambassador for the HR Division of the US Academy of Management. Helen has served as a BAM Council member for two terms (2009-2011 and 2011- 2013) and was Co-Chair of the HRM Special Interest Group 2008- 2012. Helen regularly leads and presents at events designed to support the career development of business and management faculty at various levels, from doctoral through to early and mid-career stage.

Helen has tried throughout her academic career to ensure synergies between teaching, research and consultancy activities. Her work has been published in a variety of influential journals, winning many awards. A recent paper entitled ‘Performance-related reward and innovative behaviour’, published in ‘Human Resource Management’ was voted (runner-up) best paper of the year (Academy of Management, 2019).

Career overview

Helen joined Nottingham Trent University as Professor of International Human Resource Management in 2013 and was Head of Doctoral Programmes 2013- 2017. She began her academic career after several years’ HR management responsibility within a major textile manufacturing organisation (Courtaulds). She lectured at Aston Business School 1995- 1999 and was again appointed by Aston Business School between 2003 and 2013, where she acted as Lecturer/ Senior Lecturer. She was a Senior Lecturer at Wolverhampton Business School between 1999 and 2004 when she completed her PhD part-time, at Aston Business School.

Research areas

Carrying out research at the interface between Human Resource Management and innovation, Helen’s work suggests that companies are held back less by the technical challenges that innovation presents than by entrenched work patterns and limited new ideas coming from the bottom up. She has investigated the role of people management practices in enabling innovation, looking across national boundaries to draw out benchmark data.  Helen’s research has led to a series of commissioned pieces of work within the engineering and manufacturing sectors (e.g. Baxi) and also in successfully tendering for research projects put forward by the CIPD investigating Employee Voice at Work. This latter piece of research- which highlights the role of employee voice in enabling workplace innovation- is attracting wide interest from practitioner communities  especially but not exclusively from manufacturing and engineering sectors. Helen has supervised ten doctoral students to completion and has acted as external examiner to more than 15 students from various institutions based in the UK, NL, Australia and elsewhere. Helen currently supervises five doctoral students.

External activity

This research speaks to the importance of supporting innovation within organizations, not only through investment in technology but also through effective people management practice. Innovation helps organisations to perform in a sustainable way given finite resources and faced with competitive demands. Manufacturing and engineering companies are often held back less by the technical challenges that innovation presents than by entrenched work patterns and limited new ideas coming from the bottom up. While Helen’s research has helped set the foundation for an influential network of organisations primarily but not exclusively from the manufacturing and engineering sector investigating inhibitors and enablers for ‘Employee Voice’, Helen leads a variety of projects within and outside the UK.  She co-leads a research project funded by the British Academy/ Leverhulme Trust which seeks to identify why, when and how pay for performance sparks creativity. Helen has just co-authored a paper examining what factors drive creativity and innovation, drawing on small and medium-sized businesses located in Vietnam and is lead author for a global project examining how national culture influences employee discretionary behaviours- i.e. those activities they choose, rather than being required, to perform.

Sponsors and collaborators

In recent years Helen as Co-Director of CPWOP has been instrumental in gaining and delivering several high impact and high value projects, writing and winning funding bids from significant public and private sector bodies. Most recently, CPWOP has been commissioned by Chartered Institute for Personnel and  Development (CIPD) to undertake and report employee voice in the workplace. The first  phase of this research culminated in a report which has attracted attention from major blue-chip organisations as well as employers local to the Nottingham area.  Several academic publications are currently being written based on the data collected. Due to the success of the first phase, CPWOP has been commissioned for a second phase of voice research. Organizations have pushed to form a network group inspired by the Voice research which is helping us to track the impact of our research. Additionally, CPWOP has successfully bid for research projects in several organizations (for example, Boots PLC ) as well as government agencies, including the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Gender Equalities Office (GEO). These high profile, prestigious projects speak to policy issues at the heart of government include a long-term evaluation of a national volunteering programme (funded by the DCMS). Helen’s goal has been to ensure that CPWOP’s links with both internal and external academics transcend individual academic disciplines, hence the Centre’s connections with policy and practice are second to none.


Recent Publications:

Ho, D. & Shipton, H. (forthcoming). High performance work systems and innovation in Vietnamese Small Firms.  International Small Business Journal.

Sanders, K.,.Jørgensen, F., Shipton, H., Van Rossenberg, Y.,  Cuna, R., Li, X., Rodriques, R., Wong, S-I, Dysvik, A.  (2018). ‘Performance-based rewards and innovative behavior: Do HR strength and national culture matter?’ Human Resource Management, 57 (6): 1455- 1468

Lin, V., Sanders, K., Sun, J., Shipton, H. & Mooi, E. (2018). ‘HRM and Innovation: The Mediating Role of Market-Sensing Capability and the Moderating Role of National Power Distance.’ International Journal of Human Resource Management.  DOI: 10.1080/09585192.2018.1474938

Bednall, T., Rafferty, A., Shipton, H., Sanders, K. & Jackson, C. (2018).  ‘Innovative Behaviour: How Much Transformational Leadership Do You Need?’  British Journal of Management.  29: 796–816

Shipton, H., Sparrow, P., Budhwar, P. & Brown, A. (2017). ‘Human Resource Management and Innovation: Looking across Levels’.  Human Resource Management Journal, 27 (2): 246- 263.

Lin, C-H., Sanders, K., Sun, J., Shipton, H. & Mooi, E (2016).  ‘From Customer-Oriented Strategy to  Organizational Financial Performance: The Role of Human Resource Management and Customer-Linking Capability.’ British Journal of Management. 27 (1): 21- 37.  (Best Paper Award, British Academy of Management, Sept. 2014).

Shipton, H., Sanders, K., Atkinson, C. & Frenkel, S.  (2016). ‘Sense-giving through HR roles: Line managers and employee commitment in health-care’ Human Resource Management Journal. 26 (1): 29- 45.

See all of Helen Shipton's publications...

Press expertise

    • Building an innovation culture
    • Fostering employee voice in the workplace
    • How national culture influences employee reactions to management
    • How leaders elicit innovation
    • What factors lie behind knowledge-sharing and knowledge-hiding in the workplace