Germany risks to loose its innovation capabilities and its long-term competitiveness

Germany ranks meanwhile only at position 8 (with regard to "innovation capabilities") in the Global Innovation Index of 2023, which is published each year by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Switzerland, in contrast, is again (since 2011 for the thirteenth consecutive year) number 1, followed by Sweden, the United States of America, United Kingdom, Singapore, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Republic of Korea.

How can this be explained? Some years ago the German "Manager Magazine" published the edition with the headline: "Why are German managers so terrible normal?" the magazine quotes Thomas Sattelberger, the former Chief Human resource Officer (CHRO) of Deutsche Telekom, as follows: "For the disruptive of entire industrial sectors we have the wrong top managers".

Fact is that innovation needs a creative destruction that destroys the old markets and creates new ones (see also the IGI studies "Innovate and Die" as well as "Die or transform digital").

Without "destruction" there is no progress. Important factors for this are the followings:

  • Diversified top management: Instead of homogeneous top managers with uniform career paths there is the need for people who are willing to take on risks. Only those, who have the courage to question the status quo and who have the boldness to enter unusual roads, are also able to create breakthroughs (breakdowns are the basis for breakthroughs). In particular courage and radicalness are more and more missing factors at the top management level.
  • Deliberate culture to accept "misapprehensions": Innovation needs the space to sustain breakdowns and failures. Both belong to entrepreneurship. Especially lage corporations are lacking this capability (see also the IGI studies "Innovate and Die" as well as "Die or transform digital"). Instead, risks are minimised and systematic controls are increades. It is contained to play around and to dare things. "Failures" are not allowed. Therefore, the existing is often only opimised. Many authors and management gurus call in this context for a culture that allows "Failures" rsp. "Mistakes".
    We from IGI have a different opinion to this: We differentiate between a "misapprehension" (when you do something wrong for the first time) and a "mistake" (when you do something wrong for a second or multiple time). Consequently, leaders should encourage "misapprehensions" and prompt fast learning, i.e. avoid "mistakes".


If you are interested in more details, you can download the full report from the Global Innovation Index website: