Workplace Innovation as Regional Development

Workplace Innovation as Regional Development

2004 –  This chapter (in the book of Fricke et al., see reference) argues that workplace innovation is the product of complex social interactions, not just inside the organisation but between the organisation and its wider group of stakeholders. Moreover the outcomes of such interactions have economic and social consequences that reach far beyond the boundaries of the individual organisation.

In particular the regional setting within which the organisation exists acts as a gateway to knowledge and resources able to inspire and support workplace innovation. Likewise, through its impact on competitiveness and employment, workplace innovation can have a profound effect on economic and social conditions within the region. Yet in many parts of Europe explicit support for workplace innovation plays no part in regional development policy.

However, as other chapters in this volume show, regional actors such as universities, intermediate organisations and trade unions can play critical roles in creating the conditions for sustainable workplace innovation. And, as will become clear in this chapter, changes in the pattern of work organisation affect both the ability of Europe and its regions to compete in increasingly volatile global markets, and the ability of public services to meet higher expectations from citizens. However work organisation design also has a considerable impact on a much wider range of factors.

For example

  • New forms of work organisation can have a direct impact on workplace health because of their ability to reduce repetitive and stressful work. Which is important for both the organization and the (regional) labour market and society
  • New forms of work organisation and their potential to enhance quality of working life must play a key role in the response to an aging workforce, encouraging older workers to remain in employment.
  • Employees with experience of new forms of work organization are much more likely to have acquired new needed skills, thereby enjoying a more robust position within the labour market. This will contribute to the policy objectives within EU’s European Employment Strategy, underlining the need for an adaptable workforce capable of responding to increasingly volatile economic conditions


The authors argue that work organization remains an under-utilised resource for Europe’s policy makers and social partners. This represents a wasted opportunity to build competitive and socially inclusive regions throughout Europe.

They further set out the “High road" to workplace innovation. It has no prescriptive form but the high road does distinguish between organizational strategies based on sustained innovation and those based on short-term cost-driven factors.



Totterdill, P. and Hague, J. (2004) workplace innovation as regional development. In: Fricke, W. and Totterdill, P. (Eds), Action research in workplace innovation and regional development. (pp. 43 – 79) Amsterdam: John Benjamins.


Theme: Workplace Innovation, External cooperation

Sector: n.a.

Source: Article