Academic journal article Management Revue

Demographic Change and Innovation: The Ongoing Challenge from the Diversity of the Labor Force

Academic journal article Management Revue

Demographic Change and Innovation: The Ongoing Challenge from the Diversity of the Labor Force

Article excerpt

1. Demographie change: A cause for increasing organizational diversity and a challenge for regional innovation capacity

The demographic change is altering the composition of Germany's population which affects many social, political and economic systems. The demographic transition and the following demographic change are discussed in science since the 1940s. The public and the research interest in demographic issues have grown steadily and the science in 2013 was characterized by research on the topic of demographic change as clearly as never. The Year of Science of the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) run under the motto "The demographic opportunity". In this sense the funding of research and development (R&D) within the program "Working - Learning - Developing Competencies. Innovation in a Modern Working Environment" is conceived to discover knowledge about the risks and potentials of demographic changes for the German economy. On May the 16th and 17th in 2013 the conference on "Innovativeness during Demographic Change" of the BMBF took place in Berlin. In this context, two things have been emphasized again: first, that because of its extensive effects the research on the consequences of demographic change have to have a high priority. Secondly, that specifically the impact of the demographic change on the innovativeness of German organizations has to be a major focus to keep a competitive position in Europe and in the world economy.

The demographic change is the fifth stage of a demographic transition, which is caused by industrialization processes and the emergence of post-industrial society (Friedrich & Schlömer, 2013). It is characterized by a negative population balance given a parallel increase of life expectancy (Tivig & Kühntopf, 2009; Friedrich & Schlömer, 2013) and is composed of a plurality of sub-dynamics that proceed at different speeds and with different socio-economic impacts. In general, the multiple consequences are summarized as population aging, population decline and an increasing population diversity (Friedrich & Schlömer, 2013). Those consequences are influenced by moderating variables such as the current age structure, the amount of inward and outward migration (Tivig & Kühntopf, 2009) and far-reaching social developments (Friedrich & Schlömer, 2013). The demographic impact of the political division and reunification of Germany, for example, still superimposes today's natural population movements1 (Friedrich & Schlömer, 2013).

The aging is evident in shifts in the age structure of the population. 2060 one in three people will be older than 65, and every seventh person will be 80 years or older. This is a consequence of the baby-boom generation which is followed by a transition to low birth rates (Statistisches Bundesamt, 2009). Referring to the population decline there is - despite the registration of population growth in some German regions, due to positive natural population movements and/or migration gains - a significant de- crease in population assumed for the entire population in the long term. The Federal Statistical Office calculates in advance a population between 65 and 70 million in 2060 (Statistisches Bundesamt, 2009). Most affected are the New Federal States whose population development is negative since 1989 (Statistisches Bundesamt (Destatis), 2013). This means that German companies have to deal with the requirements of older workforces and an increasing competition for the declining number of available professionals. In case of the increasing heterogeneity of the population the diversity of cultural backgrounds is going to rise in two ways. On the one hand, the share of immigrants and their descendants of the total population is rising2. On the other hand, the range of countries of origin of the immigrants is growing compared to the 1960s and 1970s, in which most immigrants came as guest workers from southern Europe and Turkey. …

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