German innovative strength: All foam and no beer?


Credited as being the most prosperous and competitive economy of Europe, it's hard to believe the Germans, or at least German companies, are suffering from self-doubt. Yet according to a new industry innovation index survey commissioned by specialty chemicals company Altana, a majority of the managers at German companies think they are falling short when it comes to innovative strength.

How is this possible? Just two days ago, the European Commission published its Innovation Union Scoreboard 2014, which named Germany, together with Sweden and Denmark as an "innovation leader." This scoreboard is published annually and provides a comparative assessment of the research and innovation performance of the EU member states and the relative strengths and weaknesses of their research and innovation systems. According to this outcome, therefore, there's officially nothing wrong with Germany's innovation strength.

So what's the problem? Why are so many German managers "beset," as the Altana report puts it, "by doubts"?

Let's take a look at the main finding of the survey carried out by Forsa Institute among 250 senior managers and 250 young professionals in industrial companies across a range of sectors in Germany. The results show that, overall, however, the industrial sector rates its innovative strength as good, with the Altana study revealing an innovation index value of 142 (any value over 100 is positive) and that around 90% of industry managers in Germany believe that the innovative strength of an industrial company "greatly influences its economic success." Yet just four percent of managers in Germany rate their company as very innovative, with at many companies, important measures designed to drive innovation often failing to be implemented. This, while 41% of those surveyed believe a very high level of innovation is needed to gain a competitive edge.
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