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Human capital and innovation: the importance of the optimal organizational task structure

Tiago Fonseca, Pedro de Faria and Francisco Lima ()

Research Policy, 2019, vol. 48, issue 3, 616-627

Abstract: Management literature has identified high-skilled human capital as a crucial dimension of innovation processes at the firm level. In this study, we introduce an alternative view of human capital based on the tasks that firms’ workers perform. We propose a measure of cognitive analytical and interpersonal tasks: the degree of abstractism. We argue that the level of abstractism of a firm has an effect on a firm's propensity to innovate and on its product innovation performance. We hypothesize that while the degree of abstractism has a linear positive relationship with the propensity to innovate, the relationship between abstractism and product innovation performance follows an inverted u-shaped relationship. We find partial support to our hypotheses using data from more than six thousand Portuguese firms. We discuss how these results change our understanding of the relationship between human capital and innovation at the firm level.

Keywords: Innovation; Innovation performance; Tasks; Automation; Abstractism (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D24 L23 O31 O33 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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