HELIX Research program
The research program presented in this section concerns different kinds of development processes in organizations (e.g. production and organization development, competence development, health promotion) with a focus on conditions and driving forces for sustainable development in organizations. The research program is organized in five knowledge clusters. Each of these clusters is assumed to represent important aspects of and conditions for sustainable development processes in organizations.
The common overall research question concerns how to understand and manage sustainable development in industry and public sector organizations. In approaching this overall question, we make a distinction between two perspectives on sustainability: a process and a content perspective. These two perspectives are assumed to be strongly interrelated, and should be seen as complementary ways of identifying conditions and driving forces for sustainable working life development.
From a process perspective, the core meaning of sustainable development is about reaching long-term effects of development work (and interventions) in organizations without consuming more resources (human, social, material) than are generated or regenerated. We have so far been able to identify some central mechanisms that can explain how sustainable change processes can be achieved in large scale and complex projects (e.g. Brulin & Svensson, 2011). From a content perspective on sustainability, there is a focus on factors that are assumed to constitute a sustainable working life (Svensson et al 2007). Related to our research program this entails a view of working life development as ideally characterized by a long-term balance between result-orientation (e.g. in terms of effectiveness, economic growth and innovation), health, gender equality, learning and individual development. This view has a strong research base in the different disciplines and theoretical fields that constitute the HELIX Centre.
Sustainability – in both these perspectives – is an integrating theme across our five knowledge clusters, which each has a focus on different constituting factors and driving forces for sustainability. This idea is illustrated by the figure below, called the House of Helix.
The metaphor of a house is intended to illustrate the structure and the different components of the research program, but also how it has developed up to now – from the ground to the roof of the house. The ground comprises two components: (1) the organization and strategy of the research program, that is, the multi-disciplinary and interactive research approach and the partnership between representatives of companies, public sector organizations, social partners, and research; (2) our focus on mobility – and the management of mobility – as a generative concept and a common research area, including the mobility of people, ideas and organizations. This ground with its two components has an integrative function in relation to our disciplines and the five clusters.
The five pillars, which represent our five knowledge clusters, rest on this common ground. We view these clusters as representing knowledge areas, which will help us to understand what constitutes a sustainable working life, and to promote sustainable development in organizations. Finally, the roof of the house represents a theoretical framework: sustainability, which, as already mentioned, comprises both a process dimension, that is, conditions and mechanisms for promoting long-term effects of development programs, and a content dimension, that is, important constituting factors of sustainability.
Considering the house metaphor from a dynamic perspective, the ground with its two components is where we started building the research program, and it remains a firm basis for the HELIX Centre. If we look at this dynamics more closely, the organization of the research program (and not least the interactive approach) led to the identification and formulation of our research focus on mobility, which in turn formed the basis for the development of the five knowledge clusters and to the interest in conditions and driving forces for sustainable development in organizations, that is, the roof of the house. Our present formulations of concepts and theories of sustainable development (in both its dimensions) are based on the outcomes of our research projects so far.
Efforts Towards Further Knowledge Integration
For the coming period (Stage 3) we intend to continue and intensify the process of knowledge integration across disciplines, theoretical perspectives and projects with a common focus on sustainable development in organizations. In line with this, we have further integrated the HELIX project portfolio compared to the previous stage and developed five integrative projects or clusters.
As stated in the overall objectives of the Centre, an important goal for the integration efforts within and across clusters is to contribute to the development of a new European model for working life development that is applicable to both industry and the public sector, through combining current and generic concepts and adapting them to a European context. In this way, we are also able to concretize parts of the ongoing policy discussion relating to EU 2020. Important steps towards this goal will be:
- To intensify the work with joint projects and publications, in particular a common book (an anthology) on sustainable development in organizations.
- To arrange an annual integrative workshop together with our International Advisory Board.
- To organize an international conference 2012 for researchers, policy makers, and practitioners on the theme “Knowledge Formation for Sustainable Work Life and Regional Development – A Partnership Approach”. The conference will be organized by HELIX together with one or two other research centres, and major Swedish actors in the field of work life development.
The planning of the conference, the workshop and the book project will be initiated during the spring 2011.
The Project Portfolio
An overall principle behind the generation of the cluster projects, is that the organization of each project should mirror the Triple Helix logic, that is, that it should meet research and innovation needs and challenges from HELIX partners, that is, from companies, public sector organizations, social partners, and researchers. Furthermore, the researchers should represent different research interests/disciplines in line with the ideas of multi-disciplinarity. To be more specific, the selection and development of the projects in the portfolio have been guided by the following five criteria based on HELIX’ overall vision and research strategy and decided by the Board:
- The project is relevant to HELIX’ multi-disciplinary research program.
- The project meets high standards of scientific quality, and is innovative both from a scientific and a practical perspective.
- The project is of direct concern to one or more members of the HELIX partnership.
- The project provides the empirical basis for the work of one or more PhD-students.
- The project is relevant in relation to co-operation with other research partners or in relation to research initiatives or to policy development at a national or a European level.
Most of the projects in the project portfolio presented in this section are planned in a perspective of two to three years. In addition, there are a number of projects that provide the empirical basis for doctoral dissertations, and, thus, are planned in a perspective of four to five years. Thus, the projects in this category that started in 2007 will end during 2012 at the latest, and those that started in 2010 will continue until 2014 or 2015. In addition to these quite long-term projects, there are resources available for more short-term projects (6 months to 2 years). These projects may have a focus on innovation support or may have the character of pilot projects that may later develop into more long-term projects. Type of project and time plans is indicated for each project in the following sections. Although several of the projects described below are designated as doctoral or post doc projects, it should be underlined that all projects are carried out in co-operation between senior researchers, post doc researchers and/or PhD students.
In the menu link Research stage 3, we will present the five knowledge clusters that have been formulated for the period 2011–2013. Under each cluster, there are two to five projects. The resources allocated to different project clusters are given in Appendix, Table 11. In doing this allocation of resources, we have attended to that there will enough space for the initiation and start of new projects later during Stage 3. Thus, it will be possible to revise and renew the project portfolio in response to emerging research problems.
Last updated: 2012-09-10