Twente in top innovatie

Nieuws | de redactie
2 december 2013 | Doordat de trends ten aanzien van het kennis- en innovatiebeleid de verkeerde kant op wijzen, gaat ons land op middellange termijn steeds meer achterop raken. Prof. Henk Volberda RSM-EUR) analyseert de jongste monitoring. “Twente en Achterhoek excelleren in innovatie”.

Zijn belangrijkste waarnemingen uit de nieuwe Competition and Innovation Monitor vat hij als volgt samen:


Over the long haul, Dutch competitive strength may weaken significantly, unless action is taken.

Although the number of radical innovations and incremental innovations have reached their highest level since monitoring began by Competition and Innovation Monitor in 2006, the ability of Dutch companies to compete with the wider world is under threat in the longer term. Volberda explains, “Investments in Research & Development (R&D) and ICT have fallen once again, and this decline has been going on since 2009.” 

There is little cooperation between Dutch companies and research institutes, when that is essential to success in innovation.

What Dutch companies mostly do is to team up with customers, other internal departments and suppliers/vendors, even though collaboration with these external partners makes only a relatively limited contribution to innovative success. In comparison to other countries, Dutch companies give the cold shoulder to various cooperation partners crucial to innovation, namely universities and other institutes of higher learning; public and private research institutes; consultants and open-innovation intermediaries.

“Cooperation with the less-usual suspects, such as research institutes, are indispensable for developing fundamentally new knowledge, which is a must-have to boost the longer-haul success of a company. Family companies are a good example of this.”

A CEO’s tenure should be neither too short nor too long, for that would be counterproductive.

CEOs holding their positions for a period of between 4 and 12 years display not only the highest level of social innovation (+3%), but also radical innovation (+3%) and incremental innovation (+3%). CEOs with that period of time in office under their belt also score better on the multipliers of working smarter (+5%), managing more dynamically (+3%) and co-creating (+3%).

“Brief-tenure CEOs focus on the short term in particular. A tenure of between 4 and 12 years offers CEOs the opportunity to profit from their own investments, while preventing them from getting stuck in a thinking rut. Time comes when fresh blood is needed at the top to get a new perspective.”

Albeit more innovative, family businesses are less efficient than non-family companies.

Family-run firms score 4% better on radical innovation than non-family companies. They also perform 2.5% better profit-wise, are more active in co-creation and are also managed more dynamically (+2.7%). However, non-family companies do better on incremental innovation (4.3%) and also invest more in working smarter (3.6%).

“Family companies show less interest in their quarterly figure and focus more on the company’s long-term viability. The strength of family companies lies especially in management and co-creation.”

Manufacturing companies have more advanced management skills and also focus more heavily on co-creation than service providers, but are more rigid.

In comparison to service providers, manufacturing companies do better on the multipliers of dynamic management and co-creation. But service providers are more flexibly organised. The highest degree of radical innovation can be found in companies that provide both products and services.

“The combination of manufacturing and service provision offers opportunities for synergy. And companies that can strike a balance between production and services have a greater focus on value creation together with and to the benefit of customers, going beyond just selling products and services.”

The Achterhoek and Twente regions excel in innovation.

The Greater Achterhoek and Twente areas score above-averagely on various multipliers, such as social innovation and radical innovation (+6.0% better than the national average) and incremental innovative (+3.9%). “These geographic areas show a relatively high level of entrepreneurism and the ability to act swiftly.”

The regions of East Brabant and North Limburg distinguish themselves from other parts of the country by relatively high levels of R&D investments (+1.4%), radical innovation (+10.3%) and dynamic management (+3,3%). The province of North Holland ranks among the top when it comes to ICT investments (+1.9%), yet lags behind on the multipliers of dynamic management (-1.6%) and radical innovation (-5.4%) in particular.

Dutch businesses are more innovative than Dutch-based subsidiaries of foreign companies.

Dutch companies perform 9% better on radical innovation and 3% better on smarter management, organization and work, relative to Dutch-based subsidiaries of foreign companies. Especially with respect to the multipliers of flexible organisation (+12%) and dynamic management (+6%), Dutch companies acquit themselves well. Foreign companies do have a stronger focus on co-creation (3%). Volberda describes these findings as a shot in the arm for the Dutch economy. However, he sees in the internationalisation of the management team and relocation of the head office as impediments to innovative strength.

The Erasmus Competition and Innovation Monitor gives pride of place of to various types of innovation: social innovation, technological innovation, radical innovation and incremental innovation. Social innovation consists of four multipliers: 1) Developing new managerial skills (styles of leadership); 2) setting up innovative forms of organisation (flexible organisation); 3) creating co-operative labour relations (smarter work); 4) cooperation with external parties (co-creation).

These multipliers allow for better use of a company’s technological expertise. They also ensure that companies perform better in the areas of innovation, productivity and competitiveness. It is important to differentiate between social innovation and technological innovation.

Technological innovations aim to create technological knowledge, which can be measured by important factors as investment in R&D and ICT. Social innovations are novel changes to the organisation, management and working methods of the companies or economic sectors. Radical innovations are product- and services-related innovations for new customer and markets, while incremental innovations refer to product- and services-related innovations for existing customer and markets.

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