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Designing for sustainable work during industrial startups-the case of a high-growth entrepreneurial firm
RISE Res Inst Sweden, Sweden.
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Logistics & Quality Management. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.
2021 (English)In: Small Business Economics, ISSN 0921-898X, E-ISSN 1573-0913, Vol. 57, p. 807-819Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

New firms face challenges regarding pace, time, scalability, and societal changes, requiring increased attention to sustainable work prerequisites. However, this dimension of social sustainability is less studied than economic and ecological sustainability. This paper addresses how sustainable work is considered in an entrepreneurial startup carrying out a greenfield project within a new industrial domain. Data were collected for 30 months in a longitudinal case study. The study shows that (i) working condition challenges were drivers for innovative solution-oriented approaches with potential for rapid decision-making, flexibility, and to attract, recruit, retain, and develop talented people; (ii) a strategic focus on sustainability and collective contribution to a purpose-driven vision were important enablers for taking steps of operationalising sustainable work dimensions during the startup; and (iii) the firms early stakeholder collaboration addressing working conditions was an important means for design for sustainable work and their role as agents of sustainable work. Research implications are how sustainable work can be considered during startups and through stakeholder collaboration. Furthermore, the case contributes to increased knowledge of how the three pillars of sustainability-economic, ecological, and social sustainability-are interrelated and are suggested to be continuously considered over time, specifically during rapid major changes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
SPRINGER , 2021. Vol. 57, p. 807-819
Keywords [en]
Entrepreneurship; New firms; Health; Working conditions; Social sustainability; Startup ecosystem
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-168772DOI: 10.1007/s11187-020-00383-3ISI: 000557131900001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-168772DiVA, id: diva2:1462809
Note

Funding Agencies|RISE Research Institutes of Sweden - Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems; XPRES (Initiative for Excellence in Production Research)

Available from: 2020-08-31 Created: 2020-08-31 Last updated: 2024-07-01
In thesis
1. Exploring the Handling of Critical Work Practices in Rapid Change Contexts: A study of an industrial startup and the COVID-19 pandemic
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Exploring the Handling of Critical Work Practices in Rapid Change Contexts: A study of an industrial startup and the COVID-19 pandemic
2024 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The accelerating pace of change in our society requires organisations to efficiently manage day-to-day operations while simultaneously innovating and developing new concepts for the future, all within an environment of rapidly evolving circumstances. Specifically, organisations must quickly be able to handle the work practices that are critical to organisational development, and this thesis focuses on the handling of these practices.

Critical work practices (CWPs) are here defined as operational management practices that are quickly initiated or adjusted – either scaled up or down – in response to new developmental needs or emerging acute situations. Commonly, there are limitations to CWPs ingrained in previous structures, methods, or knowledge. The thesis aims to explore the handling of CWPs in rapidly changing contexts and how this handling is enabled or constrained by the influencing organisational factors of 'active ownership', 'stakeholder collaboration', and 'developmental learning'.

The empirical foundation of the thesis builds on an interactive research approach. It utilises data from case studies in two rapid change contexts: an industrial startup in the green transformation and organisations’ response during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results from the studies show that organisations demonstrated agility by mobilising resources and fostering collaboration in novel ways, guided by overarching objectives that transcended local concerns. Identified CWPs were characterised by their innovative nature and various degrees of newness and time constraints, which necessitated new approaches and provided opportunities for adaptive and developmental learning.

Three conclusions can be drawn from the analysis in the thesis: first, disruptive changes trigger entrepreneurship and innovations through enhanced space of action and seamless cross-collaborations. Second, the interaction between intermediaries, managers, and employees fosters a holistic understanding and proactivity. Third, rapid change contexts stress-test organisations, where strengths, constraints, and new opportunities become visualised.

Theoretically, the thesis contributes with a conceptual model highlighting essential factors of organisational conditions and their interconnections. An additional contribution is made in introducing the concept of CWPs and identifying prerequisites for handling different forms of such practices in rapid change contexts.

The practical implications of this research include that different types of CWPs are a source that can be utilised for continuous improvements, supporting organisations’ ability to handle increasing uncertainties. Moreover, the conceptual model provides analytical support of work practices that intend to contribute to transitions related to development areas such as a circular economy, electrification, digitalisation, and resilience.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2024. p. 110
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 2387
Keywords
Critical work practice, Organisational change, Crisis, Operations management, Human factors, Active ownership, Stakeholder collaboration, Developmental learning, Sustainable development, Industry 5.0, Social sustainability, Sustainable work, Case study research, Interactive research
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-205724 (URN)10.3384/9789180756389 (DOI)9789180756372 (ISBN)9789180756389 (ISBN)
Public defence
2024-09-06, ACAS, A Building, Campus Valla, Linköping, 10:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Funding agencies: Vinnova and AFA Insurance

Available from: 2024-07-01 Created: 2024-07-01 Last updated: 2024-07-08Bibliographically approved

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