Workplace Innovation Symposium
EURAM18, Reykjavik, Iceland

Peter Oeij

EUWIN has secured a slot in the major EURAM18 conference to be held in Reykjavik, Iceland, on 22-23rd of June, 2018. Our Symposium will deal with new developments in workplace innovation (WPI), a concept that remains in development.

It started with the idea that technological innovation alone is not enough, and that renewal of socio-organisational elements is also required for successful change. The core notion, backed by empirical findings, is that employee engagement and employee involvement are a 'necessary condition' for success, simultaneously achieving better quality of work and better organisational performance. New insights show that WPI can be understood as a set of complementary measures. This symposium presents and discusses new findings to explain how WPI functions and how it can be applied in practice.

WPI combines good quality jobs with good organisational performance, enhancing the innovative capability of an organisation. Its historic roots are in the human relations and sociotechnical systems approaches of the 1950s. Technological innovation was then studied alone as distinct from social innovation. Today’s revival suggests that technology alone is no longer enough to make innovation 'happen' as it requires acceptance and embeddedness. Social and organisational renewal should therefore accompany new technologies (Oeij, Rus & Pot, 2017).

While this is also not a new insight, present circumstances have made it a necessary condition to integrate these socio-organisational elements into innovation approaches. The key words seem to be employee engagement and employee involvement. Today's knowledge-based and highly service-oriented economy (as well as manufacturing) is dependent on highly skilled employees willing to apply their brains and professional motivation for the benefit of the business.

Workplace innovation mediates between the (market) need for change in order to remain competitive and the search for outcomes that benefit both employees and the organisation. WPI is a means, not a goal. WPI interventions are, on the one hand, measures that improve both the quality of work and performance as tangible socio-organisational innovations; on the other hand, they represent a process in which employees have a strong say in developing and implementing those measures.

European research indicates that companies which develop and implement WPI interventions are characterised by 'mature’ relationships between management and employees (or employee representatives) in which they work closely together, with supportive leadership styles and an organisational culture open to renewal from the bottom-up (Eurofound 2015).

This symposium will present new research into the following topics:

  1. The definition and theory of workplace innovation.
  2. Mechanisms of workplace innovation.
  3. The relationship between technological innovation and workplace innovation.
  4. The (immediate) causes of (technological) innovation and how workplace innovation is applied to help render those innovations successful in their development, implementation, or as a new product/service for the market.
  5. The relationship between strategic management / leadership styles and corporate cultures and workplace innovation.
  6. Practical applications of workplace innovation and how they affect quality of work and quality of organisational performance.

Session Organisers: Peter Oeij, Diana Rus, Frank Pot, Peter Totterdill, Steven Dhondt & Geert van Hootegem

Contact: Peter Oeij

Visit the EURAM2018 website here.