4 Skills and Competencies for Innovators: New Priorities and Requirements for Engineering Graduates

4.1. Introduction

In our knowledge-based society, the central role of skills and knowledge for innovation is undeniable in industrial business organizations. The term “innovation”, however, covers a wide range of activities and requires serious investments that are commonly viewed as a key requirement for value creation. For Grant [GRA 96, p. 112], “the critical input in production and primary source of value is knowledge”. Applying the knowledge-based theory of value, “all human productivity is knowledge dependent, and machines are simply embodiments of knowledge”. Therefore, organizations’ human resources are considered as the main source of innovation. From this perspective, the most efficient way to prevail in intense global competition is to develop a strong human capital and exploit the core competencies defined as the collective skills and knowledge of organization.

Given the ongoing acceleration of the product development cycle, to attain sustainable competitive advantages and high performances, organizations have to be able not only to follow market changes but they should be always one step ahead of others. With the words of Porter [POR 90, p. 75] “innovation and change are inextricably tied together. But change is an unnatural act, particularly in successful companies; powerful forces are at work to avoid and defeat it”. That is to say innovation in any case requires ...

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