Episode 30 – Digital Change: importance of education and innovation



Digital transformation has a huge impact on all parts of society and work. A public debate, which is highly emotional driven, sets the focus on the fear of workers getting substituted by robots and machines – the phenomenon of technological unemployment. It is important to create an objective fact-based framework in order to reduce the level of emotion and develop future-orientated strategies for employees and organizations.
Having a look into the past, there have always been waves of innovations that had an impact on peoples‘ jobs – some jobs were substituted by technological developments others changed the profile and content.

Employees have to be aware, that they have to be flexible concerning the activities they practice.

Some tasks and their execution might change or vanishes in the near future. This is closely connected to a mindset that is characterized by a high motivation and willingness to learn new things. Especially when talking about digitization, there is a massive need for further and re-training. Besides, people have to consider practicing tasks, at which humans are dominating robots – such tasks are mostly related to social aspects, emotions, empathy etc. In addition, humans will be working on things that are cognitively demanding and changing – humans for instance can discern between correlation and causality.


In the final part of the talk, Prof. Zwick gave insights into a research project, which followed the goal to explore personal traits that are related to innovative potential. Innovation is essential for firms to stay competitive. Therefore, firms have a demand for innovators – but how can they recruit and develop high qualified people which are equipped with innovation potential? The question is, who is the human being behind the innovator?

We know about the curriculum vitae of very successful innovators, but we know very little about the personality.

Research results have shown, that there are personal factors that explain superstar innovators, beyond stylized facts as education and demographic factors. By creating small tests with respect to how people are cognitively working on questions resulting in that cognitive thinking style plays a role in explaining innovative potential. There have been robust results that have shown that if people have an intuitive way of approaching problems or if there is a very strict routine these people tend to have a higher innovative potential. The openness to new experiences was one of the key drivers. By comparing a selected group of innovators, those who were more open-minded were more successful. So, even in this very homogeneous group one could identify differences that explain the huge differences in successes of innovators. These tests, that have been executed in order to identify innovative potential and cognitive thinking style are easy to implement and only take about ten minutes. It is an interesting approach for firms of all sizes.

For more details, listen to the Podcast and look up Prof. Zwick`s website (https://www.wiwi.uni-wuerzburg.de/en/lehrstuhl/bwl7/team/prof-dr-thomas-zwick).


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