Academic journal article Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies

Beyond Planning: The Implementation of a Worksite Health Promotional Scheme

Academic journal article Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies

Beyond Planning: The Implementation of a Worksite Health Promotional Scheme

Article excerpt


In recent years, the potential for using worksite fitness and exercise programs to promote public health has received increasing attention in Norway (Handlingsplan for fysisk aktivitet 2005-2009; Ommundsen and Aadland, 2009). Internationally, worksite fitness initiatives are associated with the wider scope of worksite health promotion (WHP), which ranges from single-component measures to comprehensive intervention programs: introducing training modules on smoking cessation, stress management, monitoring blood pressure, cholesterol screening, and nutrition classes, among other things (Weiner, 2009).

This article addresses whether or not existing organizational logics are decisive for the success of implementing worksite exercise as a health-enhancing measure in a specific work organization and if so, how. Based on institutional theory, this begins with the assumption that organizational logics are basic to how an organization adapts to change. Attention is thus focused on the potential match or mismatch between established organizational logics and the logic of a given health promotional initiative.

Organizational logics may be defined as interpretative schemes, including specific systems of coordination, control, and decision making that determine the issues and problems found to be salient by organizational actors (Thornton and Ocasio, 2008). The case presented in this article, which describes an attempt to introduce a WHP initiative within a multinational transport and logistics company (TransGlobal), provides an opportunity to examine the relationship between two different workplace logics. On the one hand, the logics presented by a health promotion program that was run by the Norwegian Federation for Company Sports (NFCS), and which was firmly embedded in long-standing values and cognitive frames of Norwegian work life, and on the other hand the workplace logics of a multinational company.

The literature on institutional change shows an increasing awareness that logics need to be translated and reinterpreted in order to be integrated into new contexts (Czarniawska and Sevòn, 1996; Rørvik, 2007; Sahlin and Wedlin, 2008). Some authors also emphasize the possibility of having pluralist and contradictory logics within the same organization and hypothesize that such pluralism may lead to ambiguities or to decoupling (Kraatz and Block, 2008). This article contributes to the literature by discussing the consequences of competing logics at the micro level of organizations. It also seeks to expand knowledge about the importance of the local organizational context in implementing initiatives targeted toward employees.

Following a presentation of the theoretical and methodological considerations used, the health promotional scheme that was adapted and implemented in our case is presented. The workplace logic upon which this scheme was based is then emphasized, focusing on how such logics hold certain inherent assumptions concerning the embeddedness within the host organization and the involvement of employees. A brief presentation of the one year project period during which the scheme was adapted is then provided. Thereafter follows a presentation of the workplace logics at the worksite in which the health promotional scheme was implemented. A discussion of how the outcome of this initiative can be explained in light of a confrontation between different workplace logics follows. Based on our findings, a final, more general discussion of how different types of worksite logics may serve to enhance or to hinder the implementation of WHP programs concludes the article.

Contextual preconditions for worksite health promotion

To our knowledge, no WHP project has been studied within the perspective of organizational logics. So far, the bulk of research literature on WHP has focused on the identification and description of step by-step procedures for program development, deployment, and evaluation (Weiner, 2009). …

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