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Learning Dynamics of Workplace Development Programmes: Studies in Swedish national programmes
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Sociology. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Lärandets dynamik i arbetsplatsutvecklingsprogram : Studier i svenska nationella program (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

The thesis focuses on workplace development programmes (WPDPs) that operationalize national policies on workplace development. WPDPs are time-limited and they provide support to organizations that aim to improve their operational performance or employees’ work conditions. The support that such programmes provide to organizations consists of competence-development activities provided through networks, courses or hands-on coaching. The supported organizations aimed at changing work practices to increase their operational performance.

Departing from a workplace-learning perspective, the overall aim of the thesis was to contribute to knowledge about learning in workplace development programmes and the supported organizations when realizing policies on workplace development. A qualitative multiple-case study design was used and a total of 115 interviews and notes from meetings are included in the data material. Four substudies made up the empirical base.

The findings revealed that realizing policies on workplace development required continuous learning among stakeholders at different levels of the WPDPs. Thus, conditions that enabled learning were important throughout the whole WPDP, which was seen as a large, complex social learning system. Learning between different levels of the WPDP was especially important, which required stakeholder representatives with the appropriate qualifications or characteristics that enabled them to take on roles as brokers between the stakeholders involved in realizing the policy. The overall conclusion pointed towards the dynamics of realizing policies of workplace learning, which cannot be achieved by a one-size-fitsall model for learning.

The findings imply that funders and other authorities that make policies on workplace development through WPDPs should scrutinize how learning among stakeholders that enter into partnership to operate WPDPs is to be facilitated. Linear plans that are not complemented with careful explanations of how such learning is to be facilitated may constitute warning signs. Furthermore, the findings imply that organizations looking for external support to develop the innovative capabilities of employees must be careful in choosing their support. A WPDP may consume the resources of an organization without providing any benefit, if it does not provide the appropriate support. On the other hand, a WPDP may be a great source for learning, particularly if it includes support in designing the change effort, and help in developing an internal support infrastructure that will continue supporting workplace development after the programme ends.

Abstract [sv]

I denna avhandling ligger fokus på tre nationella utvecklingsprogram vars avsikt är att stödja arbetsplatser och organisationer för att realisera beslutsfattares policyer. Med utgångspunkt från ett arbetsplatslärandeperspektiv är syftet med avhandlingen att bidra med kunskap om lärande i arbetsplatsutvecklingsprogram och organisationer som dessa stödjer för att realisera policyer för utveckling av arbetsplatser. Studien har en multipel fallstudiedesign och totalt 115 intervjuer och anteckningar från möten ingår i datamaterialet. Resultaten visar att kontinuerligt lärande mellan intressenter på olika nivåer i programmen var en nödvändig förutsättning när en policy skulle realiseras. Särskilt viktigt var att de som representerade intressenterna tog rollen som mäklare vilket krävde rätt kvalifikationer och karaktärer för att kunna knyta samman de olika intressenterna som realiserade policyn. Den övergripande slutsatsen är att dynamiken i realiserande av policyer av detta slag visar på orimligheten i att hitta en modell för lärande som passar alla arbetsplatsutvecklingsprogram. Vidare kan ett utvecklingsprogram skapa goda förutsättningar för lärande i deltagande organisationer om programmet ger stöd vid utformning av förändringsinsatsen och vid utveckling av en intern infrastruktur som fortsätter att stödja utveckling av arbetsplatsen efter det att programmet avslutas.  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2019. , p. 78
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Sciences, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 761Linköping Studies in Behavioural Science, ISSN 1654-2029 ; 215
Keywords [en]
Workplace development programme, workplace learning, social learning system
Keywords [sv]
Arbetsplatslärande, nationella program, sociala lärandesystem
National Category
Learning
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-154443DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-154443ISBN: 9789176851241 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-154443DiVA, id: diva2:1288397
Public defence
2019-03-01, I:101, Hus I, Campus Valla, Linköping, 13:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-02-13 Created: 2019-02-13 Last updated: 2019-03-08Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Program steering by learning
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Program steering by learning
2015 (English)In: Sustainable development in organizations: studies on innovative practices / [ed] Mattias Elg, Per-Erik Ellström, Magnus Klofsten, Malin Tillmar, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2015, p. 77-92Chapter in book (Refereed)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2015
Keywords
Organisationsförändringar
National Category
Economics and Business
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-125518 (URN)000374407200006 ()978-17-8471-688-2 (ISBN)
Available from: 2016-02-25 Created: 2016-02-25 Last updated: 2019-02-13Bibliographically approved
2. The role of brokers in a workplace development programme targeting SMEs
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The role of brokers in a workplace development programme targeting SMEs
2018 (English)In: European Journal of Training and Development, ISSN 2046-9012, E-ISSN 2046-9020Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the development of a workplace development programme (WPDP) targeting small and medium sized manufacturing enterprises (SMEs) by focussing on the people who acted as brokers providing cross-boundary connections between its collaborating partners.

Design/methodology/approach

The material, from interviews with 32 individuals and 11 meetings, was analysed in a boundary-crossing framework, which provided tools to reveal how the roles of brokers at different levels (operative, strategic and national) of the WPDP affected its development.

Findings

The findings indicate that cross-boundary connections were made by persons who acted as brokers within and between different levels of the WPDP. The brokers who provided cross-boundary connections between different levels of the WPDP were found to play the most important role for the prompt development of the WPDP.

Originality/value

Apart from unique empirical material depicting the development of a collaborative venture between national and regional stakeholders of the manufacturing industry, the value of this study is the attention given to the people behind the policymaking of publicly funded national WPDPs, revealing the complex business of developing policy-driven competence development activities to employees in SMEs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2018
Keywords
SME, Manufacturing industry, Programme development, Broker, Cross-boundary connections, Workplace development programme
National Category
Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-151603 (URN)10.1108/EJTD-04-2018-0037 (DOI)2-s2.0-85053333619 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2018-09-27 Created: 2018-09-27 Last updated: 2019-03-18Bibliographically approved
3. Learning conditions for continuous improvement in a public service organization
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Learning conditions for continuous improvement in a public service organization
2018 (English)In: Journal of Workplace Learning, ISSN 1366-5626, E-ISSN 1758-7859Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Purpose – This study focuses on a transformation effort in a social welfare department of a Swedish municipality where continuous improvement, which is a Lean principle, was introduced in employees’everyday work via a workplace development programme (WPDP). The aim of this paper is to explore the conditions (internal and external) that enabled or constrained employee learning during the introduction of continuous improvement into employees’ everyday work in a WPDP-supported social welfare department.

Design/methodology/approach – This case study is based mainly on 22 semi-structured interviews with individuals holding different positions in the department and overarching municipality.

Findings – The findings show that multiple and emerging conditions, both internal and external, shaped a predominantly restrictive learning environment during the introduction of continuous improvement into the social welfare department. The major conditions identified were related to the initial implementation and top management’s steering and monitoring of the “Lean investment”, activities and support provided by the WPDP, activities and support provided by the internal Lean support team and first-line managers’ abilities to facilitate employee learning.

Originality/value – Apart from unique empirical material depicting an effort towards change under conditions far from favourable for employee learning, the value of this study lies in the attention given to the external dynamics that drive change in line with the concept of new public management in public service organizations, including a WPDP that supported the social welfare department.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2018
Keywords
Organizational change, learning environment, public service organization, workplace development programmes
National Category
Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-152661 (URN)10.1108/JWL-03-2018-0049 (DOI)
Available from: 2018-11-12 Created: 2018-11-12 Last updated: 2019-03-21Bibliographically approved
4. Conditions for Employee Learning and Innovation: Interweaving Competence Development Activities Provided by a Workplace Development Programme with Everyday Work Activities in SMEs
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Conditions for Employee Learning and Innovation: Interweaving Competence Development Activities Provided by a Workplace Development Programme with Everyday Work Activities in SMEs
2018 (English)In: Vocations and Learning, ISSN 1874-785X, E-ISSN 1874-7868, Vol. 11, no 1, p. 45-63Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this article is to investigate how the formal competence development activities provided by the Production Leap, a workplace development programme (WPDP), were interwoven with everyday work activities and to identify the conditions that enabled learning and employee-driven innovation that contributed to production improvement, in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Sweden. The study adopts a qualitative case approach and draws on evidence from research conducted in four manufacturing SMEs that participated in this Swedish WPDP. Funded by EU authorities, WPDPs provide competence development activities to SMEs in order to boost their production capabilities and/or promote innovation. The findings reveal that the competence development activities provided by the programme triggered learning in everyday work activities and fostered the development of different approaches to employee-driven innovation in the enterprises. The conclusion is that it is essential to consider that employee-driven innovations may take different forms and involve functions that can support innovative learning that goes beyond minor adjustments to the existing standards of production. Moreover, employee-driven innovation may impose new demands on management leadership skills. The findings provide important guidance for future WPDPs, for vocational education and training or university activities that are customised to SME contexts to promote production capabilities, and for SMEs that aim to strengthen employee-driven innovation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands, 2018
National Category
Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-137495 (URN)10.1007/s12186-017-9179-6 (DOI)000426597000003 ()
Funder
VINNOVA, 2013-02430
Note

Funding agencies: Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems (VINNOVA) [Vinnova 2013-02430]

Available from: 2017-05-18 Created: 2017-05-18 Last updated: 2019-02-13Bibliographically approved

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