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EU OSHA is a tripartite network organisation, strongly engaged in awareness-raising and providing tools and knowledge with the scope of the EU Social Pillar and Strategic Framework
Prevention cannot be improved without changing the behavior of people at work. For people to change behaviour, they need to know why and how they should change their behavior. Such knowledge is effectively shared through networks Many existing networks to share information between organisations (e.g. PEROSH). Not so many existing networks to share information between professionals and researchers (ENETOSH). People network, organisations facilitate networks Can we create networks to share practical information to enable behavior change in the workplace?
Only from this can the form be devised: How institutional? How connected? How virtual?
High institutionality, high connectivity, low virtuality. E.g formal committee
A shared commitment, collective competence, and recognized value of learning from each other
To have safer and healthier workplaces, we need to get behavior change by individuals at work Being part of a community of practice means that individuals: Are better informed for decision-making Have increased commitment and engagement (from being part of a group) To have safer and healthier workplaces, we need to get behavior change
What knowledge should be transferred - In a form understandable by the recipients What do the researchers want the practitioners to do with the knowledge? To whom should the message be transferred? - As specific as possible By whom should the message be transferred? - Directly from researchers to practitioners? How should the knowledge be transferred? - Formally or informally, face-to-face meetings or in report form? How can networks facilitate this transfer?
E.g. EU OSHA looking to transfer research knowledge to policy makers Informed that in some Member States there may be total target group of 6 people To transfer knowledge, there is a need to build connectivity between the researchers and practitioners
Researchers, policy-makers and practitioners may not naturally interact
Networks / knowledge communities are effective structures for knowledge transfer. Depending on context, there are different structures that can be used. For organisations looking to share knowledge, a range of approaches is essential in a variety of formats. Training, manuals, mentoring, networks, intranets. Facilitating communities of practice can be one of these approaches to achieve practical, informal, knowledge transfer
Networking for knowledge transfer in occupational safety and health
Safety and health at work is everyone’s concern. It’s good for you. It’s good for business.
Networking for knowledge transfer in occupational safety and health
Essential components of a health and safety system
Problems, duties, solutions
Tools, knowledge, access to professional support
Macro and micro level
EU, national, sector, local
How did you get your knowledge to really do your current job?
•Formal education (e.g. University degree)
•Doing my own research
•From colleagues and peers
•I just had to make it up as I went along!
The importance of knowledge transfer
Prevention requires changing the behavior of people at work
•Workers, supervisors, managers, inspectors, OSH professionals
For people to change behaviour, they need to know why and how
The how and why of prevention originates from research, passing to policy
How can we effectively transfer the necessary information?
Can we create networks to share practical information to enable behavior
change in the workplace?
Can we create networks that share information from research to policy and
Knowledge transfer via networks
“Form (ever) follows function” -
Louis Sullivan, architect
Purpose (of building) defines the
“look and shape”
Philosophy of efficiency:
Minimising cost and maximising
When looking for effective knowledge
transfer via networks:
What knowledge do you want to share
with whom? (the “function”)
Only from this can the form be devised:
How institutional (formal)?
How connected (centralised)?
How virtual (geographical)?
Networks – formal and informal, centralised and decentralised
EU OSHA National focal
Individual network – organic clusters
Dimensions of knowledge communities (1)
Andriessen (2005) considered
3 dimensions of knowledge
This allow us to map different
knowledge transfer networks
high connectivity, low
The formal committee (e.g. SLIC)
J. H. Erik Andriessen Archetypes of
Knowledge Communities 2005
Dimensions of knowledge communities (2)
High virtuality, High
High virtuality, low
The web forum The Delphi study
Dimensions of knowledge communities (3)
High virtuality, high
The traditional community of
The community of
Community of practice (CoP) – requirements
A domain of interest
•A common theme to which the community is committed
•E.g. labour inspection in occupational safety and health
•An interactive competent community (who may not work directly with each
other) building relationships with each other to enable learning
•E.g. the inspectors meet for coffee every Friday
•A community of practitioners developing a shared repertoire of resources
to address recurring problem
•E.g. answering the question “what did you do when you saw that?”
CoPs for knowledge transfer in occupational safety and health
Communities of practice offer practical knowledge transfer
Being part of a community of practice means that individuals:
•Are better informed for decision-making
•Have increased commitment and engagement (from group membership)
Organisations can facilitate CoPs to share knowledge on OSH issues by:
•Identifying potential community members
•Providing communication means
•Providing time for knowledge transfer
•Accepting that knowledge shared by CoPs may not be “on message”
•Accepting that membership of CoPs is organic, and cannot be forced
This lack of control can concern organisations
Transferring knowledge from research to policy / practice
What knowledge should be transferred?
•The information may already have been shared via scientific journal
Specifically, to whom should the message be transferred?
What do the researchers want the practitioners to do with the knowledge?
By whom should the message be transferred?
•Directly from researchers to practitioners or via intermediary?
How should the knowledge be transferred?
•Formally or informally?
How can networks facilitate this transfer?
Using networks to transfer research knowledge to policy and practice
Researchers and practitioners may not be in the same communities
•Find a “superconnector” who can bridge between the two communities
•This person understands both communities and facilitates communication
Networks can provide a common space for the communities to overlap
•Opportunities to find collaboration
•Funding to facilitate knowledge sharing
•Meetings to allow knowledge transfer
Example: ENETOSH brings together educators, OSH people, policy-makers,
researchers on a common theme
Networks transferring knowledge from research to practice: Example
EU OSHA has a network of national focal points (FoP) in each Member State,
each with a focal point manager. Each FoP runs a tripartite national network
EU OSHA publishes a triennial survey of Europe’s workplaces to provide
information to policy-makers – this information is shared primarily in report form
To transfer knowledge, EU OSHA:
•Uses the national focal point managers as “superconnectors” to bridge
between EU level actors and national policy makers
•Uses the national focal point network as a tool to provide resources for
national policy level meetings (small-scale)
•Adapts the information available to specific national-level knowledge
highlighting the key messages
Knowledge-sharing is essential for improving prevention
Networks are an essential means for knowledge transfer in
occupational safety and health
People network, organisations facilitate
Form follows function
•Know what you want to achieve and build the knowledge transfer
Communities of practice can be an effective way of sharing practical
To reach across from research to policy and practice may need different
•Organisations provide greater facilitation; and
•Networks provide a “superconnector” to make the bridge
EU OSHA runs and engages with
many networks to transfer
knowledge throughout the global
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