Research and knowledge management

Innovative Workplaces: Making Better Use of Skills within Organisations



Executive summary | Table of contents | How to obtain this publication





Pages: 147

Published: Nov. 2010


As human capital is the source of innovation, one of the policy principles of the OECD Innovation Strategy is to "foster innovative workplaces". Education and training systems must rise to the challenge of providing people with the means to learn and re-train throughout their life. Companies and organisations need to maximise the human resources they have at their disposal.

Do employers make the best use of people’s skills for innovation? Are some work organisations more associated with innovation than others? If so, are these organisations more widespread in some countries than in others? Are they associated with particular labour market policies, managerial practices, learning cultures or certain levels of education? What are the challenges for innovation within organisations?


This volume shows that interaction within organisations - as well as individual and organisational learning and training - are important for innovation. The analytical tools and empirical results this study provides show how some work organisations may foster innovation through the use of employee autonomy and discretion, supported by learning and training opportunities.


Innovative Workplaces will be of interest to policy makers in the fields of education, employment and innovation as well as business leaders, academics and all readers interested in social issues.

Executive summary


Innovation is widely recognised as an important engine of growth. The underlying approach to innovation has been changing, shifting away from models largely focused on Research and Development (R&D) in knowledgebased globalised economies and giving more emphasis to other major sources of the innovation process. Understanding how organisations build up resources for innovation has thus become a crucial challenge to find new ways of supporting innovation in all areas of activity.


This report supports and contributes to this widened approach to innovation analysis and policy by showing the importance of work organisation, interactions within organisations, as well as individual and organisational learning and training for innovation. The analytical tools and empirical results it provides are designed to open the black box of what a learning organisation is, that is, a work organisation supporting innovation through the use of employee autonomy and discretion, supported by learning and
training opportunities.


This report begins with a survey of the literature on learning organisations in order to provide greater definitional clarity. Although the literature is highly disparate and there is nothing like a unified definition or concept of the learning organisation that has been developed and empirically tested in a cumulative manner, some common definitional ground has been identified.  A key feature of the literature is that much of it is normative and concerned with the promotion of management tools that are designed to improve the learning capabilities of an organisation and its members.


Complete executive summary

Table of contents

  • Executive Summary (download pdf)


    Chapter 1. Defining learning organisations and learning cultures

    Chapter 2. Mapping learning organisations and their characteristics for the European Union

    Chapter 3. Measuring trends - the work complexity paradox

    Chapter 4. Behind innovation - employer and employee trade-offs


How to obtain this publication

Readers can access the book choosing from the following options:

  • Browse the full publication free on line and purchase the PDF e-book and/or print edition on the OECD Online Bookshop.
  • Subscribers and readers at subscribing institutions can access the online edition on the OECD iLibrary.
  • Order from your local distributor.
  • Government officials with accounts (subscribe) can go to the "Books" tab on OLIS.


Read more about our work


Centre for Educational Research and Innovation - CERI


CERI - Systemic Innovation in Education


CERI's Innovation Strategy for Education and Training


CERI - Digital learning resources as systemic innovation


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