The Impact of Emotional Experiences of Innovation Champions on Innovation Outcomes


Christina Swart-Opperman
Babar Dharani
Kurt April


This article aims to explore the impact of emotions and behaviours of innovation champions on organisation innovation outcomes. Our research suggests that champions do not necessarily contribute to successful outcomes. This could be ascribed to the fact that the role of the innovation champion is often oversimplified, while the context and specific emotional experiences of the champion impact champion behaviour. Therefore, for the purposes of this article, we considered the innovation champion as an internal role player, soliciting support for innovation and thereby influencing outcomes. The study reanalyses the interview data of twenty innovation champions from six African countries within the financial services industry. The article provides additional insights into the complexities associated with ‘championing’, linked to the champion’s own emotional experiences, discretionary and citizenship behaviours. The study reveals that, although there is an increased awareness of the factors triggering champion behaviours, the description of the fluid role of the champion remains a challenge. The role of the innovation champion and the question whether such roles are over- or underrated will thus continue to receive attention in literature.


Keywords: innovation champion, champion identity, harmful champion behaviour, champion emotional experience, champion role, champion behaviour




Author Biography

Kurt April, Faculty of Commerce, Graduate School of Business, Allan Gray Centre for Values-Based Leadership, Cape Town, South Africa

Prof. Kurt April, Allan Gray Chair, Allan Gray Centre for Values-Based Leadership, Graduate School of Business (GSB), University of Cape Town.