DIVERSITY MANAGEMENT IN OPERATIONAL INNOVATION PROCESSES
After years of theoretical preliminary work in Germany, diversity management as a management concept has increasingly been used in practice. However, this concept is applied with a considerable uncertainty. Within the context of an intimidating “demographic change” and supposedly innovative competition, as diversity management advertises for in its image campaigns, more and more pressure is put on the companies to deal with this subject.
Regarding the advantages associated with this concept, e.g. an enhanced ability to solve problems, organizational flexibility or an improved ability to recruit, innovation processes form possible fields of application for measures of the diversity management. Empirical evidence proceeds on the assumption that the subject’s significance increases in the innovative field. Studies show a participation rate in diversity measures of around 40 percent for listed companies in Germany. However, the inquiries show in many cases that they proceed too eclectic, only consider a low numbers of cases and too often survey undifferentiated employees of human resource departments who are in many cases entrusted with this field or responsible for it. In consequence, they draw an uncritical picture which can only provide insufficient impulses for a practical debate.
This article therefore tries to contrast existing empirical findings with a short study (N=77), carried out by the ‘Institute of Applied Innovation Research at Ruhr University Bochum’ concerning the usage of diversity management in innovation processes. In this study employees working in Germany, who were a direct part of innovative processes in the past years, were asked for their opinion about the use and benefits of diversity measures. The results depict the current state and give a critical perspective about potentials of diversity management in innovative projects. Furthermore, they try to sketch starting points along with innovative processes for a pragmatic handling of methods and fields of applications of diversity management, considering the declining innovation resources.