An empirical analysis of the influence of human capital on product innovation performance

Ricardo Costa, Pedro Figueroa Dorrego, Carlos Fernández Jardón


The authors build on the resource-based view of the firm, new product development and intellectual capital perspectives to analyse the influence of human capital on product innovation performance at Portuguese innovative SMEs. By conducting a questionnaire within a network of Portuguese innovative SMEs and performing both a partial least squares and a regression analysis of the data, this study aims to clarify if human capital at the firm level influences its product innovation performance, and also if such influence is equally relevant among the distinct human capital elements that are considered for the purpose of this study.

The findings indicate that human capital does have a significant and positive relationship with product innovation performance in Portuguese innovative SMEs. Moreover, the results also indicate that not all human capital elements have a significant impact on such performance. "Commitment to the product innovation process" stands out as the only human capital factor that significantly affects product innovation performance.

At a time when intellectual capital and product innovation management are both considered to be major determinants of sustainable competitive advantage, and consequently critical to gain a competitive edge (and even survive) in today's unstable business environment, this study contributes to acknowledge the relevance of intellectual capital management, and human capital management in particular, to achieve better product innovation performance in innovative SMEs.



Intellectual capital, Human capital, Product innovation, New product development, Portugal, innovative SMEs.

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