Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

QuInnE — Result In Brief

Project ID: 649497
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.6.
Country: Sweden
Domain: Society

How innovation and job quality impact each other

Successful business is all about two things: innovation and job quality – that is, the capacity to attract, utilise and hold on to value-added workers. We also know that the two aspects are closely intertwined. But before the QuInnE project, we knew very little about their complex relationship.
How innovation and job quality impact each other
Sure, there is no lack of research touching upon workplace factors that can support, facilitate or even mitigate innovation. Just like it’s rather easy to find studies on job quality improvements brought by some innovations. The two cross paths here and there, but there is just no research taking these two multi-dimensional and complex phenomena and theorising their interdependence in a comprehensive and stringent manner.

“The probable reason is that job quality is a very broad area, just like innovation, and it took a comprehensive research programme like Horizon 2020 to fund a project that could simultaneously encompass technological and non-technological innovation as well as the six basic dimensions of job quality we use in QuInnE,” says Prof. Christopher Mathieu, who coordinated the project on behalf of Lund University.

The work performed under QuInnE (Quality of Jobs and Innovation Generated Employment Outcomes) is crucial, as it is hoped to facilitate a more holistic approach to promoting societal goals such as well-being, inclusion and equality, economic and employment growth, improved products and services, sustainable work through improved innovation, and job quality. By focusing on innovation and job quality while also looking into the employment outcomes of their interplay, the project brings about new scientific understanding, new diagnostic and developmental tools, and evidence-based advice on policies to boost EU growth and strengthen its economy against the risks posed by another major financial crisis.

The QuInnE team looked at three types of innovation – product, process and organisational innovation – and six dimensions of job quality – wages, employment quality, education and training, working conditions, work/life balance, and consultative participation and collective representation. From thereon, they kept looking for recursive connections. They conducted a qualitative analysis with 58 case studies across eight industries in seven EU states, along with quantitative analyses at the national, industry, firm and individual levels. Finally, they considered innovation policies and company strategies.

“We took the results and developed two tools. The ‘Quinnemap’ compares most EU countries’ performance in a range of dimensions of employment, job quality and innovation with each other. The second tool is a developmental tool which makes project results searchable and readily accessible for policy makers, employers, employees and union officials,” Prof. Mathieu explains.

Among the project’s most interesting findings were the fact that product and, to a lesser extent, process innovation lead to both increased employment and job quality whereas the effects of organisational innovation are more mixed. The team also found that the beneficial impact of innovation is mostly concentrated on high-skill high-qualification employees. There is a ‘Matthew effect’ of innovation which, if unbridled, would lead to increased inequality between workers.

“General positive effects of innovation, in terms of both employment and job quality at the firm level, should continue to be supported. However, left alone, innovation will probably exacerbate disparities. This needs to be understood, and dealt with in a holistic and pro-active manner rather than attempting to deal with the consequences post-factum,” Prof. Mathieu points out.

According to the project results, one type of innovation that should be emphasised is incremental, workplace innovation. Whilst less visible and often not considered significant, it can contribute to more notable innovations as well as help build an innovation-conducive environment.

Overall, project findings point at the need for innovation policy and job quality to be developed together. They show that virtuous circles can be established through institutional support and management choices that favour learning and engagement. “The most innovative companies focus on employment and job quality, so better employment and job quality are probably not just an effect of innovation but also produce it, as we could show from our case studies. These are the processes, largely in the hands of managers, that policymakers need to promote,” Prof. Mathieu concludes.

Related information

Keywords

QUINNE, job quality, innovation, employment, workplace, policy
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