A new study explores how students perceive their innovation competences. (Photo: Amy Hirschi / Unsplash)
A new study explores how students perceive their innovation competences
The survey respondents feel that they are most proficient in the innovation competences of perseverance, change management, problem-solving and initiative
Women perceive their achievement to be greater in innovation competences in the interpersonal and networking dimensions
Innovation is a highly sought-after skill, both in society and business. A new UOC study published in international open access journal Sustainability surveyed a group of students on the UOC Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and Management to find out how they perceive their own innovation competences. The results show that most students on the programme feel well prepared, having gained the right knowledge in this area.
To gather data, the researchers administered an online survey to 360 students, all of whom had written up a business plan as part of their bachelor's degree final project. Students given a self-assessment questionnaire on their competencies rated all their innovation competencies highly, particularly perseverance, change management, problem-solving and initiative.
The women perceived their competencies to be greater across almost all categories, particularly interpersonal and networking skills. "Women stand out in the interpersonal and networking competencies, such as leadership and teamwork," said Enric Serradell López, associate dean in the UOC's Faculty of Economics and Business, "but, in general, their perception is high across all the innovation categories, including in the individual dimension".
The study divided innovation competencies into three areas: individual, which include personal skills such as creativity, idea generation and risk-taking; interpersonal, which include communication, teamwork and leadership; and networking, which include the ability to create and maintain work relationships, multidisciplinary cooperation and interacting in international settings.
The results confirm the findings of previous studies that found gender differences in innovation in higher education. In those studies, women also stood out in problem solving, decision-making, creativity, networking and communication skills. Nevertheless, as in the UOC study, they were more risk averse than their male colleagues.
Innovation and gender for business sustainability
In addition to sharpening businesses' competitive edge, innovation is crucial for promoting sustainable business development. In this line, the UOC research incorporated the gender variable to examine whether men and women perceive their achievement of innovation competences differently, and to gain insight into what impact these differences might have on businesses' sustainability.
The results show that women generally rate themselves higher than men. On this, López said: "Women's positive self-perception of their skills can help to promote innovative and entrepreneurial behaviour in companies and thus ensure their sustainability".
In addition to being essential for business competitiveness, innovation is also crucial for promoting sustainability. "Developing innovation competencies can help us towards attaining the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals," said Serradell López, researcher from the UOC’s Innovative tools for elearning (GO2SIM) group . In the case of this study, the innovation skills developed at university aim to provide a quality education and attain gender equality.
The study admits that it will be necessary to keep studying sustainable innovation in other sectors, outside the field of education, and proposes that other faculties, beyond business schools, assess their strategies to foster innovation. It also points to the importance of having begun to understand which competencies are best developed by students in order to better organize study programs. "In short, it gives us clues on how to improve," said Serradell López.
Ferreras-Garcia, Raquel; Sales-Zaguirre, Jordi; Serradell-López, Enric. 2021. "Sustainable Innovation in Higher Education: The Impact of Gender on Innovation Competences" Sustainability 13, no. 9: 5004. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095004
Sustainable development goals (SDGs)
The UOC's research and innovation (R&I) is helping overcome pressing challenges faced by global societies in the 21st century, by studying interactions between technology and human & social sciences with a specific focus on the network society, e-learning and e-health. Over 500 researchers and 51 research groups work among the University's seven faculties and two research centres: the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) and the eHealth Center (eHC).
The United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and open knowledge serve as strategic pillars for the UOC's teaching, research and innovation. More information: research.uoc.edu. #UOC25years