Due to changing demographics in Germany and the UK and associated retirement policies, in organisations age diversity is expected to increase. Previous research has suggested that age diversity can impact innovation on different organisational levels. On the individual level increased age is associated with a decline of fluid cognitive abilities, which are relevant for the development of innovative ideas. On the organisational level, conflicts, and age stereotypes have a negative impact on innovation.
To prevent and even reverse the adverse impact of age diversity on innovation, an innovation support scheme for SMEs was developed and piloted in a previously conducted research project in Germany. This scheme included interventions for individuals and leaders. At the individual level, a cognitive ability training was introduced to reduce the decline of fluid cognitive abilities and in turn increase the generation of innovative ideas particularly for older employees. Moreover, a leadership training was introduced, which emphasizes on reducing age stereotypes and associated conflicts and enhance appreciation of age diversity. DINNOS, aims to conduct a Randomized-Controlled Trial (RCT) to evaluate the effectiveness of this innovation support scheme in a sample of SMEs from Germany and the UK. In both countries, we will conduct an RCT involving an experimental- and a waiting-list control group with N=300 SMEs which will be equally divided to both groups. On the individual level we will examine cognitive ability, individual creativity and innovation behaviours as outcomes. Whereas on the organisational level outcomes will consist of self-reported indicators, such as reduced age stereotypes and team innovation as well as objective outcomes such as number of submitted ideas and patents.