Nowadays, due to the increasingly competitive economic environment, and the constant danger of economic turndowns, innovation has come into great prominence not only as an important source of competitive advantage, but also as a powerful driver of economic growth and prosperity. In this new context, attention has been drawn to the role that socio-cultural diversity and immigration play in fostering innovation. Thus, the aim of this essay is to assess the impact of immigration on innovation. Furthermore, the question regarding whether or not a culturally diverse society represents an enabling environment for innovativeness shall be discussed. Nevertheless, a number of evidences and empirical data which support the linkage between cultural diversity, immigration and the innovation process shall be analysed.
Statistical reports have shown that at the turn of the century “4.6% of world population was born in a different country from the one where it currently lived”. (Bratti and Conti,2012:2). Given the size of this phenomenon, immigration has come into sharp focus on the global agenda, currently being at the centre of many economic and political debates and its economic consequences giving rise to a high level of research activity. Thus, it would be of highly importance to consider the contribution of increased cultural diversity in many societies to the innovation system especially when dealing with economic analysis and policy. However, in order to be able to analyse the effects of immigration and cultural diversity on innovation, firstly, the meaning of „innovation” as a concept along with its indicators should be tackled.
Defining ”innovation”could be rather a difficult task as it is a “multi-faceted phenomenon”, and a widely used concept in various ways and diffrent contexts. (Venturini, 2005: 1) However, it could be generally agreed that ” Innovation is different from pure invention. Innovation involves the successful implementation of a new product, service or process, which for most activities entails their commercial success.”(Gordon and McCann, 2005: 3). In addition to this, Ozgen, Nijkamp and Poot state that innovation is achieved “by means of analytical knowledge” and argue that “The improvement of an existing product or the modification of an existing process or organizational arrangement can also be viewed as an innovation.”. (Ozgen, Nijkamp and Poot, 2013: 3). Regarding the measures of innovation, the most prominent ones are the number of patent applications and the Total Factor Productivity, used as proxies of technological growth and effective innovations at both industry and country levels. Having now defined this process, leads the analysis further, to establishing how does immigration affect innovation.
In recent years, research activities have demonstrated a rather positive correlation between migration and innovativeness, as “individuals coming from different countries usually have different, complementary skills with...