Table of Contents

Sustainable Development in Organizations

Sustainable Development in Organizations

Studies on Innovative Practices

Edited by Mattias Elg, Per- Erik Ellström, Magnus Klofsten and Malin Tillmar

An increasingly competitive environment can lead to considerable problems for many organizations as they struggle to adapt to change. As a result, they fail to create the conditions that can lead to sustainable development over the long term, thus affecting the capabilities of employees. This book provides a fresh perspective on sustainable change and development in organizations, as well as a critical perspective on lean implementation, work environment and sustainability.

Chapter 8: Developing knowledgeable practice at work

Karen Evans

Subjects: business and management, management and sustainability, organisational innovation, organisation studies


Employability and ‘skills-deficit’ discourses dominated European Union (EU) policies for more than a decade, linked to the promotion of lifelong learning strategies designed to upgrade workers’ basic competences and adaptability to economic shifts and demands (Zarifis and Gravani, 2014). The narratives of competence development are now increasingly linked to a new set of challenges for reformulated versions of lifelong learning to meet (Evans, 2009; Evans et al., 2013). In the present time, self-sustainability and organizational sustainability are increasingly emphasized as goals that extend beyond employability towards innovation and creativity, developmental competence (Ellström, 2010) and the shaping of work practices. Both innovation and employees’ workplace learning are EU policy priorities, but little is known about how employees contribute to innovation. More fundamentally, we know that innovation cannot be taken as a universal ‘good’. Indeed a state of permanent reinvention can be understood as part of the crisis of modern capitalism; part of the problem rather than the solution. Other perspectives (Engeström, 2001) highlight the progressive potential for social relations at work, as the means of production shift in the direction of collaboration, co-configuration and more open relationships, but this is always an uneven process whose outcomes are uncertain.

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