, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 348-361

Building social capital and regional innovation through Healthy Working Centres: An investigation in the South East of England

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Abstract

This paper reviews the concept and practice of “Healthy Working Centres” within the context of new forms of work organisation. New forms of work organisation can be within enterprises, or it can take the form of collaborative engagement in new working practices among enterprises. The paper explores what constitutes a Healthy Working Centre, and identifies what would differentiate such centres from other existing facilities in the South East of England. It concludes that Healthy Working Centres are potentially powerful new forms of work organisation, which would develop social capital and alliances among organisations. In time, they could create innovation systems and regional developmental coalitions. Participative action research interventions during the feasibility study in a number of sub-regional networks illustrate that centres would have to meet the needs of the community using them, and they would therefore have to develop specific norms, structures and communication conventions. The success of the Healthy Working Centre concept is dependent upon a culture of co-operation and collaboration in the region, which is at present largely absent.