Innovation at the workplace: Do professional competencies matter?
This paper analyzes individuals' propensity to innovate in professional environments, by focusing on the specific competency profile of individuals who play a role in the incorporation of product, technological, and knowledge innovations at work. The analysis draws on economic and managerial literature on innovation, innovative behavior, and competencies to gain a better understanding of the relationships between the process of competency development and innovative behavior in working environments. Using data from REFLEX, a European survey on the transition from higher education to labor markets, the empirical component of this study estimates discrete response models to explain the propensity of individuals to innovate at work. The models take the responses to a set of 19 questionnaire items as the basis for determining individuals' competency profiles, while also incorporating firm, working environment, and personal characteristics. The estimation results provide evidence of significant marginal effects of specific competencies on the probability that individuals act as innovators at the workplace. Competencies such as alertness to new opportunities, ability to present products, ideas or reports, ability to mobilize the capacities of others, ability to come up with new ideas and solutions, and ability to use computers and the Internet appear to have stronger marginal effects on the likelihood of innovating and, consequently, emerge as key competencies in explaining the propensity of individuals to become innovators in their working environments.
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