Children Help Adults to Learn about Innovation
On July 18, the Global Innovation Index 2014 was presented in Sidney. HSE’s First Vice Rector Leonid Gokhberg and Research Fellow Valentina Polyakova at the Institute of Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge (ISSEK) co-authored the research into levels of innovation development in different countries.
Innovation is understood today to be a main driver of economic growth. So it is particularly important to monitor the extent to which organisations and populations are using innovation and to evaluate the quality of human capital. That is what lies at the basis of the research The Global Index (GII) - a large scale international project directed by Cornell University, the French business school INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
A comparison of the GII indicators in a cross-country perspective shows the strong and weak points in economies which might not be obvious on a national level. Analysing the GII results is a valuable source of information for devising innovation policy. The GII is published annually. HSE experts have been contributing to it since 2012. In this, seventh report Leonid Gokhberg and Valentina wrote a chapter on understanding and perception of innovation in the population and the skills of innovation activity.
In comparison to the European leaders in innovation entreprise (Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, Sweden), in Russia most of the population sees innovation as something abstract, not connected to everyday life. Most people don’t understand that innovation isn’t just about ‘gadgets’ (smart phones and tablets) but can be institutional and social and can change the systems of business, production and social relations. But the gap in how people understand innovation is not just between Russia and Europe but also inside the EU, between the leading countries mentioned above and the outsiders (which includes Lithuania, Bulgaria, Latvia and Romania).
It’s the younger generation which is pushing the growing interest in innovation. The number of people who started to use technology because of their children grew from 3% to 12% over 8 years.
'Even people who actively engage with new technology, don’t talk about the positive effects of innovation on society,” says Valentina Polyakova. “I don’t think people have grasped it yet. After all, the process of deep cultural change doesn’t happen overnight. Wanting the latest new ‘gadgets’ is only the first step.'
Russian consumers seem to have taken this first step, at least, data from surveys conducted by the HSE researchers shows that the demand for innovation in the Russian population is gradually increasing. The number of people who do not encounter new technology in their daily lives fell from 21% in 2003 to 12% in 2011. It’s the younger generation which is pushing the growing interest in innovation. The number of people who started to use technology because of their children grew from 3% to 12% over 8 years.
'Children influence the consumer behaviour of their parents (by asking them to buy something, for example) or by showing their parents how to use the family computer or phone and what it can do,' explains Valentina Polyakova. 'Besides, when parents realise how important it is for their children to have certain skills, they begin to master various kinds of technology in order to help them. For example, children are asked to make PowerPoint presentations in primary school. Parents have to do the homework with them and learn how to use the programme if they don’t already know.'
But what about 'advanced users', those who know and use innovation, not just in daily life but in their professional activities including creating new products and services? Research shows that employees with higher levels of competencies are more successful both at the ideas stage and in a working team and in realising innovation. Successful innovators stand out with their high levels of skills with new technology, e-skills.
It isn’t only about about being good at analysing large amounts of data but also at what would seem banal tasks such as using search engines and specialised software or email attachments. In each of these characteristics, the number of successful innovators is above expected average on any selection by 15-20 percentage points.
The authors of the report suggest that the measures taken to improve employees qualifications could make their work more productive and also bring about qualitative changes in the activity of the entire company.
Oleg Seregin, HSE news service