Employability and innovative work behaviours in SMEs in a Euroregion: A cross-national comparison between Belgium and the Netherlands

Jol Stoffers, Karolien Hendrikx, Omar Habets, Beatrice van der Heijden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate possible differences in the degrees of employability, leader–member exchange (LMX) and innovative work behaviours in a comparison between Belgium and the Netherlands. Although neighbouring countries, disparate national cultures between the two are assumed to influence the amount of employability, LMX and innovative work behaviours among their respective working populations. Furthermore, this paper aims to validate a mediation model across the two countries to test whether employability (partially) mediates the relationship between LMX and innovative work behaviours.

Design/methodology/approach: Data from employees and their immediate supervisors working in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Belgium and the Netherlands supported the hypothesized model. Structural equation modelling was used to investigate the mediation model using a multi-source approach.

Findings: The amount of employability and innovative work behaviours of employees appeared to differ significantly between Belgium and the Netherlands. Furthermore, the results suggested that for both countries a positive relationship with one’s immediate supervisor (LMX) is beneficial in the light of workers’ innovative work behaviours, through its impact on employability, which was found to be a full mediator in this relationship.

Research limitations/implications: Future studies using a longitudinal approach could give more insight into the model relationships. Moreover, the variation in systems, national contexts and managerial practices in the Euroregion calls for more cross-national comparative scholarly research.

Practical implications: SMEs often do not employ professionals to manage human resources, that is, supervisors themselves have to carry the responsibility to encourage employees to further develop themselves and to enhance their innovative work behaviours. This while the challenge of more cross-national cooperation encourages a boost for innovations in the Euroregion.

Originality/value: This study is the first cross-national validation of a mediation model wherein a competence-based measure of employability is incorporated as a possible mediator in the relationship between LMX and innovative work behaviours.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-187
Number of pages21
JournalPersonnel Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2019


  • Quantitative
  • Employability
  • Advanced Statistical
  • Small- and Medium-sized enterprises
  • Cross-national comparison
  • Innovative work behaviours
  • Leader-member exchange


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