Original Research

Psychological capital, innovators’ DNA and innovative behaviour

Karen M. Milner, Nadia Criticos
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 49 | a1994 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v49i0.1994 | © 2023 Karen M. Milner, Nadia Criticos | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 February 2022 | Published: 27 January 2023

About the author(s)

Karen M. Milner, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Nadia Criticos, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


Orientation: This study was positioned within the field of positive psychology, specifically positive organisational behaviour scholarship (POBS).

Research purpose: The aim of the research was to investigate the relationship between psychological capital (PsyCap), employees’ innovative thinking and their innovative behaviour.

Motivation for the study: Psychological capital has been associated with many positive organisational behaviour outcomes, but relatively little previous research has addressed the relationship between PsyCap and innovation in South Africa. In a similar vein, there is much interest in the Innovator’s DNA model, but it too has received little research scrutiny. Combining these variables into a single model, provided an opportunity to address both these research gaps.

Research approach/design and method: The research design was quantitative in nature. The model of innovative behaviour was tested on a sample of 485 employees from the travel and automotive industries in South Africa.

Main findings: The model of innovative behaviour was mostly supported by the data. Significant relationships between PsyCap, innovators’ DNA (innovative thinking) and innovative behaviour were found.

Practical/managerial implications: The characteristics that underpin both PsyCap and innovative thinking have been shown in previous research to be malleable and trainable. The current research found that both these variables contributed significantly to the variance in innovative thinking. Managers seeking employees who engage in innovative behaviours would do well to spend time and effort in the training and development of both PsyCap and innovative thinking.

Contribution/value-add: This study contributes to the limited amount of research on employee innovative behaviour in South Africa. Specifically, the study established a link between employees’ cognitive skills, psychological skills and innovative behaviour.


psychological capital; innovative thinking; innovative behaviour; positive psychology; Innovator’s DNA Model


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