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Innovation culture

The German mechanical and plant engineering industry can build on a high level of innovative strength. The way in which innovation and error culture is practiced in the company, combined with an atmosphere that promotes creativity, can contribute to a higher innovative capacity of employees. As part of the online exchange of experiences “Innovation: innovation culture”, participants discussed typical obstacles in the innovation process and how they can be overcome.

In her introduction, Andrea Veerkamp-Walz, Business Advisory Officer at the VDMA, provided an initial assessment of the situation on the topic and presented the results of the preliminary study “Supporting innovation through culture and leadership”, which was based on the 2018 study “Leadership and culture in times of digitalization”.

Result: The question “Our managers encourage activities that support innovation” resulted in a score of 4.6 on the rating scale of 1 (does not apply at all) to 7 (could not be better) compared to 5.4 in 2018. The same result was obtained for the question “Our managers express appreciation for the innovation orientation of their employees”. While the score for the question “Innovative behavior is part of the evaluation of our employees’ performance” was 4.2 in 2018, it was 3.7 in 2024.

These results were the subject of lively discussion among the participants, as they indicate a slight deterioration in the culture of innovation in companies compared to 2018. As an explanation for this development, the participants referred to the overall social and political crisis situation in recent years with the keywords Covid, inflation, energy crisis, Ukraine war, Gaza war, among others, which had an inhibiting effect on innovative and creative processes.

Management and innovation consultant Dr.-Ing. Reinhard Schmitt then offered an introduction to the topics of innovation culture and innovation climate and presented a model by the retired Swedish professor of organizational psychology, Goran Ekvall, who identified ten dimensions or cultural elements in his research that stimulate creativity in a company and promote or hinder a climate of change.

The participants then used the Mural tool in a joint workshop to classify which of the ten dimensions or cultural elements they consider to be more or less pronounced in their company. In the final discussion, these classifications were debated, as well as the reasons why certain cultural elements are stronger and others weaker.


The event was organized by ProduktionNRW. ProduktionNRW is the cluster for mechanical engineering and production technology in North Rhine-Westphalia and is organized by VDMA NRW. ProduktionNRW sees itself as a platform for networking, informing and marketing companies, institutions and networks with each other and along the value chain. Significant parts of the services provided by ProduktionNRW are funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Protection and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.