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Vocations and Learning

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 63–84 | Cite as

Innovative Work Behaviour in Vocational Colleges: Understanding How and Why Innovations Are Developed

  • Gerhard MessmannEmail author
  • Regina H. Mulder
Original Paper

Abstract

In workplaces, innovative products and processes are required to address emerging problems and challenges. Therefore, understanding of employees’ innovative work behaviour, including the generation, promotion, and realisation of ideas as components of this behaviour is important. In particular, what fosters innovation development and what triggers these activities is important for its promotion and adoption in contemporary workplaces. To investigate how and why innovations at work are developed and enacted, an explorative study comprising structured interviews with vocational teachers in the German vocational system was conducted. The teachers reported on activities they undertook during the development of a specific innovation. Furthermore, they provided information on factors that made this innovation necessary and that they were activated by. The study indicates that even when opportunities for innovation development existed in a workplace, the needs and goals of teachers were pivotal for these opportunities to be recognised and teachers’ innovative work behaviour to be triggered. By analysing vocational teachers’ work activities, we found that the development of innovations was a complex, iterative and primarily social process. By encouraging teachers to act on opportunities for change and by establishing a collaborative structure at schools, innovation development can be facilitated. We also found that throughout the development of an innovation, reflection played an important role. If the importance of reflective activities is acknowledged by workplaces such as these participants’ vocational schools, this not only fosters innovations but also the teachers’ professional development.

Keywords

Innovative work behaviour Vocational teachers Activities Triggers 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Educational ScienceUniversity of RegensburgRegensburgGermany

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