Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

Gender, Innovative Capacity, and the Process of Innovation: A Case of Poland

Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

Gender, Innovative Capacity, and the Process of Innovation: A Case of Poland

Article excerpt


Innovation is increasingly becoming a way for enhancing economic development, and becoming a key to a prosperous future. There is a plethora of questions concerning efficiency, effectiveness, and also limitations identified in the context of growing importance of such issues as: cooperation between business and science, interdisciplinary research, commercialization of outcomes of the process of innovation, and a growing scale of public intervention directed to the stimulation of innovative attitudes and activities. These include barriers and limitations rising from gender stereotypes and prejudices, often based on a belief 10.14254/2071-789X.2016/9-1/17 that masculinity and femininity play a determining role in shaping individuals, their behaviour, attitudes and needs (Okon-Horodynska et al., 2015).

It is rational to increase innovative capacity of the nation by exploiting the whole society - men as well as women. It can also be stated that innovation, as well as scientific research, is not gender-neutral activity. A research project called "Innovative Gender as a New Source of Progress" is an attempt to analyse the broad and multidimensional relation between gender and the process of innovation, with a special emphases on the complexity and complementarity of women's and men's potential to achieve optimal effects in research and innovative activities. The complexity and complementarity of women's and men's potential consists of gender specific: behaviour, attitudes, roles and experiences. For this purpose, the dedicated design of integrated genome of women and men participation in the process of innovation was created.

In the first part of the paper the concept of gender is explored in the context of innovation theory and research. The following part presents the adopted research methodology. It is followed by the presentation of results of pilot survey conducted among research personnel in Polish innovative enterprises. It needs to be stressed, however, that the survey is only a part of a broader research project focused on gender as one of the new sources of economic progress.

1. Gender in the process of innovation - literature review

While discussing innovation it is worth turning to Schumpeter, who is considered one of the forerunners of innovation theory. He emphasized that innovation is virtually in the centre of all phenomena, difficulties and problems of the economic life of the capitalist community. The sense of innovation is "the formation of a new production function" (Schumpeter, 1939, p. 87). The entrepreneur is characterized by dynamism and innovativeness and thus creates new businesses, new products, introduces a new organization of production and new production technologies. The entrepreneur-innovator therefore decides on the driving force for economic development and the concept of innovation refers to broader creative human activity.

In contemporary world innovation is increasingly seen as one of the main ways to enhance economic growth, it is a key to a future prosperity, and it creates prosperous nations, and is considered crucial for development (Alsos et al., 2013; Hunt et al., 2013). Growth will be highest if the innovative capacity of the whole workforce is exploited. So the failure to integrate women into science, research and the development of innovation could be perceived as unacceptable waste of human resources (Abels, 2012, p. 188). As Abels (2012, p. 187) writes, scientific research, and innovations are not gender-neutral activities. The gender dimension is deeply embedded in the way we do science and develop innovations, influencing the entire process from the laboratories to the market. Yet the focus of efforts so far were not concentrated on particular groups in terms of their involvement in the process of innovation, such as women and men. In order to fill in this gap, the gender dimension should be applied to the consideration of innovation. …

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