Services and the Workplace

Services and the Workplace

Adamantios Koumpis
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-683-9.ch006
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How our workplaces are formed and shaped with respect to our conceptualization and understanding of services? How organisations can be characterized, affected and marked through their idea of services? Workplace are considered as open learning factory – open to the communities they belong to, to the markets they operate for and to the employees, customers and contractors of all types they interact with. How can all the new learning items be capitalised and transformed into knowledge assets for the companies and the employees? How can the use of a Learning Assets Management system like the CARAMBOLA concept we present be used for improvement of all aspects of service planning, implementation and operation?
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The Carambola Approach

With CARAMBOLA we aim to provide a solution that can be embedded in the business processes and human resources management systems of organizations and which could support the transformation of learning outcomes into permanent and valuable knowledge assets. The approach that we have taken and which leads the structure of the methodology and the interrelationships amongst the different activities follows the sequence:

Problem → Research → Solution → End Products

The idea is to start by proposing a set of research, development and demonstration activities towards a corporate proprietary platform that can motivate company workers to learn and disseminate their acquired knowledge within the company, creating value both for them and for the company. To get there, CARAMBOLA is driven by the discovery of established and successful learning patterns and assets in companies, and by their application in the working environment. CARAMBOLA’s goal is for the employee to learn productively and the employer to harvest the learning outcomes and award the employees respectively. Thus learning is guided towards a fruitful symbiosis for both the employers and the organization.


Companies are investing in their people by motivating them to participate in training or retraining programs, as part of their other core business activities. Incentives may vary, but most companies are aware that they have to invest in their human resources to improve their business cycles and increase their capacities. However, they are not able to exhibit the existence of a traceable process for managing their investments for learning. Furthermore, it is widely accepted1 that competition is focused not in the prices or the location of production of a product or a service but in the intellectual capital that a company possesses and the means it has organised to deploy it appropriately.

On the other hand, employees do learn in their organizations. Individual workers are aware that the value they carry for their company is not fixed but continuously under negotiation. Therefore, in order to remain attractive they have to invest in themselves and increase their learning and knowledge capital, so that they are able to keep on selling their services to their employer or seek for a new one that can better reward them for their value.

Their motivation to learn largely depends on the rewards they expect to receive from their improved skills. Learning at the workplace is often driven by employees' interest in their work and internal motivation to develop their expertise. However, rewards they expect to receive from their improved skills may also play a role. Today these rewards are qualitatively assessed, based on human resource management principles, and not reflected in the balance sheets (value) of the organizations. But if the outcome of learning processes could be quantified, and this quantification could result in increased benefits for the employee (salary or otherwise), then the employee would be more motivated to learn, and would also target its learning towards the acquisition of skills that would ensure value to the company. Furthermore, employee payments would be based on quantified indicators, and become more efficient. Therefore a need to quantitatively assess the outcome of inter-organizational learning processes is apparent.

Last but not least, an important reason that learning outcomes have not been adequately and quantitatively assessed yet is that until today learning and knowledge management related learning initiatives may have been kept apart from the corporate accounting system.

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