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Does a different view create something new? The effect of employee diversity on innovation

  • Østergaard, Christian R.
  • Timmermans, Bram
  • Kristinsson, Kari

A growing literature is analysing the relation between diversity in the knowledge base and the performance of firms; nevertheless, studies that investigate the impact of employee diversity on innovation are scarce. Innovation is an interactive process that often involves communication and interaction among employees in a firm and draws on their different qualities from all levels of the organisation. This paper investigates the relation between employee diversity and innovation in terms of gender, age, ethnicity, and education. The analyses draw on data from a recent innovation survey. This data is merged with a linked employer-employee dataset that allow us to identify the employee composition of each firm. We test the hypothesis that employee diversity is associated with better innovative performance. The econometric analysis reveals a positive relation between diversity in education and gender on the likelihood of introducing an innovation. Furthermore, we find a negative effect of age diversity and no significant effect of ethnicity on the firm's likelihood to innovate. In addition, the logistic regression reveals a positive relationship between an open culture towards diversity and innovative performance. We find no support of any curvilinear relation between diversity and innovation.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Research Policy.

Volume (Year): 40 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (April)
Pages: 500-509

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Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:40:y:2011:i:3:p:500-509
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  1. Dwyer, Sean & Richard, Orlando C. & Chadwick, Ken, 2003. "Gender diversity in management and firm performance: the influence of growth orientation and organizational culture," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 56(12), pages 1009-1019, December.
  2. Keld Laursen & Volker Mahnke & Per Vejrup-Hansen, 2005. "Do Differences Make a Difference? The Impact of Human Capital Diversity, Experience and Compensation on Firm Performance in Engineering Consulting," DRUID Working Papers 05-04, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  3. Quintana-Garci­a, Cristina & Benavides-Velasco, Carlos A., 2008. "Innovative competence, exploration and exploitation: The influence of technological diversification," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 492-507, April.
  4. Dosi, Giovanni, 1993. "Technological paradigms and technological trajectories : A suggested interpretation of the determinants and directions of technical change," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 102-103, April.
  5. Garcia-Vega, Maria, 2006. "Does technological diversification promote innovation?: An empirical analysis for European firms," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 230-246, March.
  6. Suzuki, Jun & Kodama, Fumio, 2004. "Technological diversity of persistent innovators in Japan: Two case studies of large Japanese firms," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 531-549, April.
  7. Edward J. Zajac & Brian R. Golden & Stephen M. Shortell, 1991. "New Organizational Forms for Enhancing Innovation: The Case of Internal Corporate Joint Ventures," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 37(2), pages 170-184, February.
  8. Dosi, Giovanni, 1988. "Sources, Procedures, and Microeconomic Effects of Innovation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 1120-71, September.
  9. Breschi, Stefano & Lissoni, Francesco & Malerba, Franco, 2003. "Knowledge-relatedness in firm technological diversification," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 69-87, January.
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