Learning across boudaries

2007 – This WIN-report discusses the main findings of the benchmarking exercise conducted as part of the WORK-IN-NET project in 2007. It is a sequel to an earlier exercise whose results are presented in the article ‘European programs on work and labor innovation’. a benchmarking approach. (2005) . This 2005 report discussed the activities of eight different programs in the field of research & development. This new research continues this using three new case studies.
This publication provides an overview and analysis of program activities aimed at the promotion of innovation in Singapore, Flanders and Ireland and a represents the results of both studies.

The WORK-IN-NET (WIN) was a Coordination Action (CA, 2005 – 2010) in the ERA-net and  aimed to collect, analyze and disseminate information on national activities in the field of innovation. By improving the quality of work and making more use of the creativity of the employees, Europe can keep up with the demands of today’s economy. The information was shared with other Member States of the European Union where workplace innovation is not yet on the agenda. WORK-IN-NET wanted to reduce economic and social disparities between European countries.

Globalization, rapid technological development and aging are problematic for Singapore just as for more countries. To ensure the growth of the economy, the country puts a lot of effort into maintaining its ‘efficiency infrastructure’. In recent years, there is also an increasing emphasis on innovation. It is interesting whether a country operating on centralized planning will manage to promote innovativeness and creativity among the people.

Flanders Synergy Program
The Flanders Synergy Program was established in 2006 to encourage cooperation in the field of innovation between companies and knowledge centres. Flandres Synergy starts projects with organizations from different sectors that aim to implement workplace innovation practices such as: self-organizing, individual responsibility, new organizational structures and participation.

Irish Workplace Innovation Fund
This fund was set up in 2006 and after one year it already had a major impact on the development of innovations in Ireland. Using this fund organizations can invest in HRM, dynamic management, motivation and improvement of job quality.

The results of the three case studies are presented in comparison with the 2005 data.

Integration with politics
There is a great need for better integration of the promotion of workplace innovation within the economic policy. In order to realize this integration, clear empirical evidence is needed that shows  the importance of innovation for the economy and the need for a clear approach and information to stimulate innovation.

Role of social partners
Social partners play an important role in most of the development programs. Linking politics to developments in the workplace does not mean therefore that it affects the position of the social partners.

Learning about the border

Globalization and the Internet provide opportunities to convey information about innovation across its own borders. To encourage this optimally, international fora are needed to share tools and experiences.

Importance of inclusiveness
In development strategies, it is important that everyone thinks and cooperates: both management and employees. In addition, it is also important that these strategies are implemented within various industries.

Cooperation between research and development
In addition to analyzing the results, research should also be actively used as a part of the research development strategy by giving feedback and providing solutions for problems.

The approach of one organization may not be suitable for another organization. Good exchange of experience may provide the solution.

Intellectual and social capital
The best way to promote this capital is to spend extra attention to a shared definition of development and to ensure that the participants speak the same language. This is a prerequisite to stimulate innovative thinking, within a strategy.

See the annex for the full article ‘Learning across boundaries’, (2008) by T. Alasoini, E. Ramstad, T. Hanhike  and N. Rouhiainen.