Chapter 8: Innovation through the lens of labour and employment law
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Few would dispute that the capacity of the people engaged by any enterprise to learn, adopt and develop and consequently, the capacity of the enterprise to innovate, are essential components of an enterprise, if it is to provide goods or services successfully in any competitive and changing environment. Likewise, few would dispute that the ways in which those people may be engaged by the enterprise are governed primarily by labour and employment law. So, multidimensional as it is, labour and employment law has, as one of its dimensions, its relationship to the broader human resource function in the context of innovation and inventions in business. In this context, business will endeavour to engage leaders who can promote innovation within the organisation and bring employees through processes of change. Such leaders may also show the way in harnessing the creativity of workers and in turn encouraging the creative thinking of employees as a means of improving enterprise productivity and profit- ability. Productivity, in the view of Dr John Edwards, member of the Board of the Reserve Bank of Australia, depends on innovation and technology. He said: ‘In the longer term, productivity will come back to technology and innovation, to improvements in human capital and to our capacity to invent, or adopt and adapt productivity in enhancing innovations.’ Chapters in this part of the book will discuss the role of the employment and labour laws in resolving disputes arising between employer and inventor employee which often result in litigation – and possibly unsatisfactory outcomes for either or both parties.

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