Creating Sustainable Work Systems: Developing Social Sustainability

Creating Sustainable Work Systems: Developing Social Sustainability

Creating Sustainable Work Systems: Developing Social Sustainability

Creating Sustainable Work Systems: Developing Social Sustainability


Since the first edition of this book was published, the subject of sustainability has risen to the forefront of thinking in almost every subject within business and management. Tackling the latest developments and integrating practical perspectives with rigorous research, this new edition sheds light on a vital aspect of working life.

Current trends reveal that increasing intensity at work has major consequences at individual, organizational and societal levels. Sustainability in work systems thus requires a multi-stakeholder approach, emphasising a value-based choice to promote the concurrent development of various resources in the work system. This sustainability grows from intertwined individual and collective learning processes taking place within and between organizations in collaboration.

In exploring the development of sustainable work systems, this book analyzes these problems, and provides the basis for designing and implementing 'sustainable work systems' based on the idea of regeneration and the development of human and social resources. The authors, who are leading researchers and practitioners from around the world, consider the existing possibilities and emerging solutions and explore alternatives to intensive work systems.


Ray Anderson

As I take pen in hand (literally) to write this Foreword, I am sitting on an airplane on the tarmac of LaGuardia, waiting in line to take off. the flight is an hour and a half late leaving. This is my life these days, and this is an experience to which I have grown accustomed – too accustomed. Since my company Interface, Inc., set its sights in 1994 on becoming the first name in industrial ecology and transforming our petroleum intensive carpet making business into a totally sustainable company, I get lots of invitations to tell the Interface story, thus lots of airplane rides (for which, incidentally, Interface has planted lots of trees).

What brought me from my home in Atlanta to New York City, ultimately to endure this particular all-too-common frustration, was yet another keynote speech. This one was to a conference that brought angel investors together with entrepreneurial CEOs of companies seeking venture capital investment in the field of green technologies. in this case the focus of the conference was narrowed still further to an area of mutual interest to investors and companies: the green building market.

The conference was a sign of the emerging times. the green building (building in an environmentally responsible way) marketplace is exploding, moving very rapidly toward mainstream. a few illustrative data points from my personal experiences: in August 1995, I delivered the opening keynote address for the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) annual conference in Big Sky, Montana. I counted heads in the audience. There were 135 people there. Ten years later, I spoke again to the usgbc annual conference, that time in Atlanta. There were 12,000 people present. Two years after that in Chicago, 40,000 people showed up! Now, in business, that is a growth curve to die for.

So, it’s no wonder that entrepreneurs are entering the field with product innovations and service ideas and dreams of striking it rich. and it’s no wonder that venture capital investors are appearing at such conferences as the one in New York today, looking for the most likely winners. This heightened activity is a very good thing for the earth and all its inhabitants, because what is happening here is defining the early days of a new industrial revolution.

Indeed, there are new fortunes to be made in making the earth a healthier place; and I can say early days, because only 46 years have gone by since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring launched this new industrial revolution in 1962. This is . . .

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