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Skilled trades and technical workers in R&D: Occupations, organisation & innovation

AutorTurpin, Tim; Toner, Phillip; Woolley, Richard ; Lloyd, Chris
Fecha de publicaciónnov-2011
CitaciónGLOBELICS 2011
ResumenHuman resource capacity for national innovation systems is generally focused on the availability of scientists and engineers. However, skilled technical occupations make up approximately one third of the workforce involved in R&D in OECD countries, yet little attention is paid to these occupations in analyses of the organisation and conduct of R&D. Given the outward migration of scientists and engineers from many developing countries development strategies might be better focused on maximising available innovation inputs from technical and trades skills. This paper describes aspects of an exploratory study undertaken in Australia with the key aim of developing better understanding of the role and contribution skilled trades and technical workers make in the diverse contexts of R&D. The study also investigated forms of work organisation and the influence of formalised routines and informal work practices on task and project performance. We found trades and technical workers were involved in a wide range of activities directly related to R&D. These activities composed five key roles: installing, calibrating and customizing instruments; design; linking R&D to production; health and safety regulation; and training. The contribution of trades and technical workers to R&D exceeded simple execution of plans or designs provided by scientists or engineers however. Key forms of craft knowledge were important to innovation in the conduct of projects and in their outputs. These included knowledge of the properties of materials, the importance of design for maintenance and the carriage of non-codified knowledge – particularly of as-built artefacts and of adaptation to technical change – from one project context to another. We conclude that trades and technical workers should be understood as providing far more than ‘support’ in R&D contexts. Rather, the appropriate integration and timely involvement of trade and technical occupations in project teams adds dimensions of skill, adaptation and learning to R&D that can have significant benefits for the conduct of knowledge intensive work and for efficiency in translating knowledge between R&D, quality control and production processes. This has significant implications for R&D project management and work organisation practices in developing economies.
DescripciónTrabajo presentado a la 9th Globelics International Conference celebrada del 15 al 17 de noviembre de 2011 en Buenos Aires (Argentina).
Versión del editorhttp://www.ungs.edu.ar/globelics/
Aparece en las colecciones: (INGENIO) Comunicaciones congresos
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