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Workforce education diversity, work organization and innovation propensity

Alejandro Bello-Pintado (Public University of Navarra-Arrosadia Campus, Pamplona, Spain)
Carlos Bianchi (Institute of Economics, University of the Republic, Montevideo, Uruguay)

European Journal of Innovation Management

ISSN: 1460-1060

Article publication date: 30 June 2020

Issue publication date: 27 May 2021




Diversity of people, knowledge and resources has been identified as a determinant of firms' growth. This paper focusses on innovation propensity as a critical dimension of firm's growth path, aiming to analyse the effects of the firm's horizontal educational diversity (HED) on the propensity to conduct different technological innovation activities (TIAs). In addition, considering the evidence showing that these effects are neither direct nor linear, the authors analyse the moderating role of the firm's organizational practices oriented to knowledge sharing (KS) on the association between HED and the adoption of TIAs.


Following the theoretical arguments of the resource-based view (RBV), the evolutionary economics and the dynamic capabilities approach and related empirical evidences, the authors proposed four hypotheses regarding the effect of HED on TIAs and the moderating role of work organization practices oriented to promote KS. Empirically, the authors calculated different HED diversity indexes capturing two basic dimensions: variety and balance. Hence, using instrumental variables and panel data techniques to control endogeneity biases, the authors tested the proposed hypotheses using a data set of Uruguayan manufacturing firms between 2004 and 2015.


In line with previous evidence, results showed idiosyncratic context effects. The authors found a robust, linear, positive and significant relationship between HED and TIAs, but the effect can only be consistently associated with the adoption of internal or external research and development (R&D) activities. Moreover, the moderating role of work organization practices oriented to promote KS is positive and significant when firms engage in TIAs. For technological innovations that only involve the acquisiton of technology (AT), a positive effect is also observed but always associated to organizational practices oriented to promote KS.


This paper revisits the analysis of workforce diversity for a relatively less explored context. This research contributes to the field by linking HED and work organization practices to understand firm's innovation propensity in a developing context. Moreover, while other studies have focussed only on top management or R&D team diversity, the authors have analysed the whole professional's workforce. It allows the authors to discuss the effects of diversity on innovation propensity in the light of the ongoing debate on the effects of innovation in employment.



We acknowledge the collaboration of the Agencia Nacional de Investigación e Innovación, Uruguay, which provided access to UIIS microdata. We also acknowledge the financial support of the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science (ECO2013-48496-C04-12-R).


Bello-Pintado, A. and Bianchi, C. (2021), "Workforce education diversity, work organization and innovation propensity", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 756-776.



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