The Convergence of QWL and Competitiveness: A Swedish Literature Review

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This book investigates the relationship between the quality of working life (QWL) and competitiveness in the specific context of organisational innovations in Sweden. It proceeds by way of reviewing the literature of both a general theoretical nature on innovations, including Swedish research, and then looks more closely at the empirical evidence on the QWL-competitiveness relationship at the micro-level from the 1990s. The various studies referred to in the survey show that where innovations are motivated primarily by an improvement in QWL, such improvement can lead to improved performance. Despite the evidence that firms can reap considerable performance advantages through attempts at increasing the quality of working life through greater job enlargement, job enrichment, competence development and delegated participation, there is also considerable evidence that some firms are actually eschewing such approaches in deference to short-run pressure for immediate results on the ‘bottom-line’ of the profit and loss account and rapid increases in stock market valuation. Moreover, pressures for public expenditure cuts and new, market-based solutions are leading to major personnel cutbacks in the public sector. We can thus conclude that the price of competitiveness in Sweden has been an intensification in the pace and complexity of work. The challenge, therefore, is to design research activities with the aim of generating actionable knowledge for the development of sustainable work systems.


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FörlagNational Institute for Working Life
ISBN (tryckt)91-7045-683-6
StatusPublished - 2003