Learning at the Core: Knowledge Management as an Employer Strategy for Lifelong Learning

Learning at the Core: Knowledge Management as an Employer Strategy for Lifelong Learning

Ernesto Villalba (Centre for Research on Lifelong Learning (CRELL, Institute for Protection and Security of the Citizen (IPSC) and European Commission)- Joint Research Centre, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-270-1.ch009
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Abstract

The present study explores the relationship between the knowledge-enabling environment and the demand of training in 18 small private companies providing educational and consultancy services in Sweden. In this way, the chapter is an exploration of the ways Swedish knowledge-intensive companies manage their knowledge. The 18 companies have participated in a European programme for employee’s competence, financed by the European Social Fund. As part of this European financed programme, companies have evaluated their business activity and determined their training needs in order to remain competitive. The 18 companies, thus, are in a position of providing information on the demand for learning that is rarely available. Knowledge is understood, here, both as the structure and the content of the mental schemas. It is embodied in individuals; it differs from information and data; and it can be tacit or explicit. Knowledge is a dynamic entity that is in a constant dialectic process with the reality it represents. It is through this dialectic process that people learn. This conceptualization of knowledge implies that when looking at organizational processes for managing knowledge, it is important not only to look at formal organized activities for learning, but also informal learning activities that constitute the main source for tacit knowledge, as well as the conditions in place for knowledge creation, what is here called the knowledge-enabling environment. It is argued that through knowledge management, companies are indeed implementing strategies for the promotion of lifelong learning. Lifelong learning has been used in policy arenas as a guiding principle for educational policies and reforms.
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Introduction

Training and competence development is one of the principal activities to maintain and renew knowledge, and hence, competitiveness. At the political level, the European Union is making efforts to establish a European area of lifelong learning, promoting initiatives towards skills and competence development (see e.g., European Commission, 2005). Member states have placed lifelong learning at the center of their educational debates, and the concept has become integrated into the policy discourse (see e.g., CEDEFOP & EURYDICE, 2001; Field, 2000; Leader, 2003). The basic principle in lifelong learning is that knowledge, skills, and competencies should be constantly updated throughout life. The knowledge and skills acquired at one point in time are no longer sufficient for the entire working life (Lundvall, 2000; Tuijnman, 1999); workers are demanded to be autonomous lifelong learners, with higher levels of multiple skills, and flexibility.

Lifelong learning is an underlying principle that arguably has guided educational reforms in the last 20 years. Three main attributes define lifelong learning (Rubenson, 2001): (1) it refers to the whole life span (lifelong); (2) it takes into account different forms of learning (life-wide): and, (3) it places major emphasis on learning, which in turn emphasizes the importance of individual involvement in her/his own learning. As indicated in Aspin et al. (Aspin, Chapman, Hatton, Sawano 2001, p. xx-xxi) lifelong learning has an economic justification in that it is instrumental in maintaining competitiveness and innovation. In addition, the discourse on lifelong learning defends learning as an “intrinsically valuable activity.” Finally, lifelong learning is seen as a “pre-requisite for informed and effective participation in society.”

The concept of lifelong learning, thus, implies not only that learning occurs along the whole life span, but also that learning occurs in different settings and different ways. This includes formal, nonformal and informal ways of learning. Private as well as public institutions have to create opportunities for individuals to develop their competencies, both through planned training activities as well as through the design of the working conditions that promote learning while working (Hasan, 1996; Rubenson, 2003). In other words, organizations have to become learning organizations, defined as those “that encourage learning at all levels (individually and collectively) and continually transform [themselves] as a result” (European Commission, 2001, p. 33).

The importance of education and learning to increase competitiveness is not only present in policy documents (European Commission, 2000a, 2000b, 2001, 2005; OECD, 1997, 1998, 2000); management and economic literature also places a central role in learning and the creation of knowledge. Many different fields have contributed, in the last few years, to the progress of a body of knowledge in the field of management and development of competence and skills in organizations; however, communication between different approaches has not been straightforward.

Complete Chapter List

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Dedication
Patricia Ordóñez de Pablos
Table of Contents
Chapter 1
Jakob Lauring, Toke Bjerregaard
This chapter deals with the role of language use and knowledge sharing in the context of international subsidiaries. The chapter analyzes the role... Sample PDF
Knowledge Sharing and Sociality: On the Linguistic Embeddedness of Knowledge Exchange in International Subsidiaries
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Chapter 2
Ruth Alas
This chapter analyzes organizational changes and organizational learning in Estonian companies. During the last decades, Estonia has transformed... Sample PDF
Organizational Learning During Changes in Estonian Organization
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Chapter 3
Giovanni Schiuma
Today’s global business is characterised by interconnectedness, interdependence, and an increasing level of complexity that force organisations to... Sample PDF
Strategies for Assessing Organisational Knowledge Assets
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Chapter 4
Poul Houman Andersen
In order to capture market dividends and stay at par with the competition in the knowledge-based economy, firms must constantly develop their skill... Sample PDF
Division of Interfirm Activities in the Knowledge-Based Economy: The Crucial Role of Knowledge Processors
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Chapter 5
Luiz Antonio Joia, Paulo Sérgio da Silva Sanz
Since the early 1990s, research has been conducted in an attempt to establish a viable and reliable manner of measuring the intangible assets, also... Sample PDF
The Conundrum of Valuing a Company's Intellectual Capital: The Role of Taken-for-Granted Indicators
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Chapter 6
Tongo Constantine Imafidon
This chapter avers that over the past years, monolithic organizations, as opposed to multicultural organizations, have been created by many top... Sample PDF
The Multicultural Organization: A Historic Organizational Theory for Gaining Competitiveness in Global Business Environment
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Chapter 7
Arla Juntunen
This chapter focuses on the challenges of developing a knowledge management platform to support organizational memory and knowledge transfer. The... Sample PDF
Developing a Corporate Memory as a Competitive Advantage in the ICT-Sector
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Chapter 8
Corrado lo Storto
This chapter reports the findings of an empirical study whose purpose is to identify the attributes of the organization infrastructure that support... Sample PDF
Learning Organizations or Organizations for Learning? How Small Firms can Learn from Planned and Random Technical Problem-Solving: Implications for Technical Education
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Chapter 9
Ernesto Villalba
The present study explores the relationship between the knowledge-enabling environment and the demand of training in 18 small private companies... Sample PDF
Learning at the Core: Knowledge Management as an Employer Strategy for Lifelong Learning
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Chapter 10
Dimitris Bibikas, Iraklis Paraskakis, Alexandros G. Psychogios, Ana C. Vasconcelos
The increasing pressure of today’s highly globalised markets has lead organisations to continuously compete for knowledge and innovation. Despite... Sample PDF
An Integrated Knowledge Innovation Process Management Model: The Case of Skandia
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Chapter 11
Christian Nielsen, Robin Roslender, Per Nikolaj Bukh
During the last decade, many calls for improving disclosure practices, in relation to intellectual capital and intangibles, have been uttered in the... Sample PDF
Intellectual Capital Reporting: Can a Strategy Perspective Solve Accounting Problems?
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Chapter 12
Huei-Chen Hsu
The main points of this chapter are probing for the combination of information technology and virtual work, and how to change the distribution of... Sample PDF
Managing the Information Technology: Knowledge Transfer in Virtual Teams
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Chapter 13
Miltiadis D. Lytras, Patricia Ordóñez de Pablos
Multinational companies (MNCs) are facing important challenges within the current economic context. Rapid technological changes, the globalization... Sample PDF
The Building of the Intellectual Capital Statement in Multinationals: Challenges for the Future
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Chapter 14
Pedro López Sáez, José Emilio Navas López, Gregorio Martín de Castro
During more than a decade, the literature has provided several intellectual capital models. Nevertheless, empirical evidence is still necessary in... Sample PDF
Intellectual Capital in Knowledge-Intensive Firms: Exploring the Concept and Main Components in Boston's Route 128
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Chapter 15
Weiling Ke, Kwok Kee Wei
This chapter uses organizational learning as a lens to study how firms implement the enterprise system. The core research questions are: What are... Sample PDF
Organizations and Learning Process: Its Antecedents and Consequences in Enterprise System Implementation
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Chapter 16
Kholekile L. Gwebu, Jing Wang
Improvements in technology have led to innovations in training such as Electronic Learning (E-learning). E-learning aims to help organizations in... Sample PDF
The Role of Organizational Environmental, and Human Factors in E-Learning Diffusion
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Chapter 17
Mikel Sorli, Dragan Stokic
Managing of knowledge for innovation in an extended enterprise (EE) environment is a key issue. This in turn requires effective utilization of... Sample PDF
Supporting Innovation Through Knowledge Management in the Extended Enterprise
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Chapter 18
Luis Felipe Luna-Reyes
Contemporary organizations face the challenge of growing and advancing in a complex and changing environment (Johannessen, Olaisen, & Olsen, 2001;... Sample PDF
Government Innovation Through Knowledge Management
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Chapter 19
Marc Henselewski, Stefan Smolnik, Gerold Riempp
Today’s business environment is characterized by highly transparent markets and global competition. Technology life cycles are decreasing due to the... Sample PDF
A Technology-Focused Framework for Integrating Knowledge Management into Strategic Innovation Management
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About the Contributors