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Global Industry Survey Reveals Clear Differences In Regional Perceptions about Innovation

Seneffe, Belgium — A cross-section of managers and professionals in European and Asian manufacturing companies report very different perceptions about the most significant challenges for their businesses. Thirty-two percent of respondents in Europe felt innovation is by far the biggest challenge facing their businesses, compared to 10 percent of their peers who provided this response in Asia and the Americas.

In contrast, 36 percent of Asian executives reported their biggest challenge is lower-cost competitors, compared to 29 percent in the Americas and 29 percent in Europe respectively who identified lower-cost competitors as their most significant challenge.

These were key findings of an innovation-focused international survey whose results were released today.  The global study, conducted by Harris Interactive, Inc., on behalf of Dow Corning Corp., involved a telephone survey of executives from manufacturing companies in a wide range of industries. The industries included electronics, construction, beauty and personal care, automotive, textiles, rubber, plastics, paper, and health care.  Harris Interactive, based in Rochester, New York, is widely known for The Harris Poll®.

 “The European results mirror feedback from the European Commission based on its Innovation Scorecard findings,” noted Gregg Zank, Chief Technology Officer & Executive Director of Science and Technology.  “European Commission officials have reported they believe that innovation is critical to boosting growth rates and productivity in the region.

Respondents’ were asked who they feel is primarily responsible for innovation in their companies.   More than a third of respondents (37 percent) named “all employees” as their number one choice.  They are counting on all employees, not just the head of science and technology, to advance innovation in their companies. This response was even stronger in Asia where 43 percent named “all employees” as their number one pick as compared to 34 percent in Europe and 33 percent in the Americas. 

Twenty-three percent of global respondents felt that innovation is the responsibility of the chief technology officer in their companies.  Twenty-one percent of Asian respondents and 31 percent of European respondents named the CTO as being responsible for innovation.

These results show a trend toward more employees being aware of their shared role for innovation success.

When identifying factors that make suppliers successful innovators, respondents cited the top-ranked factor was having an “intimate understanding of what customers want and need.” The global response scored 8.9 out of a possible 10 score (where 10 = extremely important and 0 = not at all important).  European respondents rated this factor even higher – at 9.1.  The second highest global response was “employees are creative” which scored 8.6, and third was “apply the latest developments in science and technology” at 8.5.

The research results also show a trend away from the traditional ‘inside-out’ approach to innovation in which companies create a new product or service and then look for ways to market them.

“An increasing number of companies are updating their approach by turning to an ‘outside-in’ perspective,“ explained Scott Fuson, vice president and chief marketing officer of Dow Corning. They are now monitoring the external environment, market needs and customer expectations before creating products, services and solutions to address those needs,” Fuson concluded.

Click Here for more information about the research methodology and results.

Dow Corning ( provides performance-enhancing solutions to serve the diverse needs of more than 25,000 customers worldwide. A global leader in silicon-based technology and innovation, offering more than 7,000 products and services, Dow Corning is equally owned by The Dow Chemical Company and Corning Incorporated. More than half of Dow Corning’s sales are outside the United States.


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