University students are a major source of future innovations in organizational settings. Before they enter the labour market, it is in the context of Higher Education that they start developing some of their longterm behaviours, such as innovation behaviours. This study aims to explore the main determinants of university students’ innovation behaviours from a longitudinal perspective. The sample comprised 78 students of Psychology, Management, Fine Arts and Education.
Our results show that the main determinants of undergraduates’ innovation behaviours changed over time, except for autonomy, which was the only determinant of innovation behaviours at both baseline and follow-up. As job control fosters employee innovation at work, autonomy in accomplishing academic tasks predicts undergraduates’ innovation behaviours. These findings suggest that educators should consider designing tasks and assignments that require higher autonomy from students as part of their curricula. Furthermore, educators could also consider implementing tasks involving higher cognitive demands to further enhance student innovation.
Higher Education can play an important role in helping students to develop the innovation competence that is in such high demand in current competitive labour markets. Universities can provide not only technical tools, but also encouragement to use new ways of doing things by giving students the necessary autonomy. This strategy seems to be crucial at the very beginning of students’ university life.