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FP5

Better to be rich and healthy than poor and sick - Conditions for the convergence of competitiveness and the quality of working life in Europe, An INNOFLEX Research Report

Project ID: HPSE-CT-1999-00026
Funded under: FP5-HUMAN POTENTIAL

Abstract

This report is published as part of the Innoflex (innovative firm performance, workforce flexibility and personal/social consequences) project, funded by the EU as part of the Key Action on Socio -Economic Research within the Fifth Framework Programme.
The overarching objective of Innoflex is to identify the conditions under which convergence can be achieved between quality of life and business competitiveness through the design and implementation of new forms of work organisation, and to identify means of reproducing these conditions through the actions of public policy makers, social partners and research -based institutions.
A significant move is required beyond the Quality of Working Life (QWL) policy programmes of the 1960s and 70s, which were driven by humanistic concerns combined with anxiety about emerging labour shortages. The relationship between quality of working life and competitiveness was only weakly conceptualised or studied. In the 21st Century economy the key to sustainable success lies in the capacity to continually reinvent products and services in ways which meet changing expectations and opportunities, using the rich potential of management and workforce knowledge, skills and experience more imaginatively and effectively. But this is not unproblematic at organisational level. How can employers encourage employees to use their full talent and creativity? How can the tacit knowledge and experience of employees be translated into a collective resource for innovation across the organisation? This challenge becomes even more serious in Europe's increasingly tight labour markets, where the meaning of work becomes central to the ability to recruit and retain skilled people. A key problem for Europe appears to be the increasing gap between leading -edge practice and common practice in work organisation, resulting in a 'long tail' of enterprises with inadequate access to understanding or knowledge.

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