8 Discussion and conclusion

Innovation performance has been the target variable in our theoretical search and empirical selection of elements and relations, which have shown empirical important for generating useful knowledge in learning relations, constituting our model of managing learning for innovation. In this last section we shall discuss and conclude on the management challenge of bringing the elements and relations together in order to reconstruct an interrelated and empirical founded model of learning for innovation in firms. Perhaps the most fundamental challenge is that human resource management decisions often are distributed on various actors in both line management and staff members of the firm. The analysis has shown that the initiatives important for human resources learning are situated on all management levels of the firm: the strategic level, the tactic level and the operational level. The first challenge is to integrate human resources management on all levels in a strategic and cognitive architecture of active relational learning and knowledge production in the organization. Managing human resources learning for innovation must constitute a collective shared and deliberate value chain, communicating the propositions and principles for decisions related to organization, developing collaboration channels and operational function of the specific innovation strategy and relational learning.

Recruiting, selecting, training, educating, apprising, rewarding, maintaining and dismissing comprise the basic aspects of human resource management. Often these aspects are controlled and decided without any connection, some of them being controlled by operational line management and other controlled by staff actors (Kolind 2005). Recruitment often depends on decisions without relation to training and education policies important for development of dynamic capabilities. In the same way appraisal and rewarding are often decoupled from motivational drivers of creativity, learning and knowledge development in the firm. The organizational principles in use may reflect strategic priorities, without considerations of how to frame learning relations. The main elements of the model are innovation strategy, learning organization, employee participation and employment relations with innovation performance as target. The relations should be objects of careful value chain coordination. The value is constituted by streams of useful knowledge and routines delivering dynamic cohesion power between the elements, and such streams must be nourished. At the bottom line this dynamic cohesion means that recruitment and competence building is converted to dynamic capabilities and learning relations in order to meet the innovation strategy and performance. Competences and training becomes the fuel of the dynamic relations in the model.

It is essential that learning processes and knowledge absorption deliberately are targeted at innovation performance. This targeting means that recruitment, competence development and training of employees always should be guided by strategic considerations. In order to practice strategic management of employment relations, the communication between the levels in the model must be efficient. On the strategic level it is mainly aligning external relations with the intentional development of learning relations by means of appropriate organizational principles, which are important. The learning relations should materialize from the combined principles of learning organization with organizational learning communities in both vertical and horizontal relations. On the tactical level it is the collaboration between management and employees which should be configured in order to build a culture of commitment and change in the firm. This culture constitutes the foundation of dynamic routines, creativity and capabilities in the organization. An explicit and operative personnel policy is of course important in order to guide human resource aspects in strategic decisions.

The vertical and horizontal relations towards and between the basic aspects of human resource management on the operational level are indeed very important for the functionality of the model. The practical decision pattern represents the implementation of the model configured by organizational frames and personnel policies. As mentioned the practical decision pattern on the operational level concern recruitment, selection, training etc. and the important point is to which degree the decisions of the line manager reflects guidelines and directives from management and staff on strategic and tactical level. The pivotal point in the model, however, is to which degree the relations and decisions work both ways. The competences, learning potentials and capabilities of the employees should, as the most important resource base of the firm, influence development of organizational frames and relations and not least the strategic orientation of the firm. Thus a systematic and dynamic management has as most important assignment to facilitate and fill out a well-functioning communication system, which establishes a top-down as well as a bottom-up value chain of human resource decisions with relevance for dynamic learning practices, knowledge absorption and innovation performance. The information on resources and potentials at the operational level delivers the possibilities and conditions for the firm’s resource based positions of strengths, capabilities and innovative performance. In this way a systematic and dynamic human resource management becomes the sufficient condition bringing together the elements in the model of human resources learning for innovation.