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The NOVO Network: the original scientific basis for its establishment and our R&D vision

Conference contribution
Authors Jörgen Winkel
K Edwards
Lotta Dellve
Bernt Schiller
R.H. Westgaard
Published in Dellve L., Wikström E., Björk L., Wolmesjö M., Larsson Fällmanand S. (Eds.) Abstract book of the 11th NOVO symposium. Gothenburg: 9-10 November
ISBN 978-91-87876-17-2
Publisher Gothenburg University
Place of publication Gothenburg
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Language en
Keywords Production Ergonomics, Industrial Relations, Intervention Research
Subject categories Work Sciences, Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics


The NOVO network is a Nordic non-governmental professional association whose aims are to foster the scientific progress, knowledge and development of the working environment within Healthcare as an integrated part of production system development. The vision is a “Nordic Model for Sustainable Systems” in the healthcare sector. It was founded in 2006 in Copenhagen and was financially supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers from 2007 to 2015. The motivation to establish the NOVO Network arose when reviewing the literature regarding opportunities to create sustainable production systems. This work was initiated year 2002 and resultet in a systematic review published 2011 (Westgaard and Winkel 2011). Already in 2006 it was concluded that ergonomic interventions have limited musculoskeletal and mental health effects in a long-range perspective while rationalization has predominant negative health effects – particularly within healthcare. This was the basis for creating the NOVO triangle emphasizing that intervention research for improved work environment in healthcare also needs to consider efficiency and quality aspects to increase organizational sustainability; i.e. the joint consideration of competitive performance and working conditions in a long term perspective. Interventions aiming at increasing organizational sustainability thus demand new forms of collaboration and coordination between workers, management, designers, and ergonomists. Such collaborations will often be challenged due to the frequent negative impact of rationalization on ergonomics and vice versa. This call for dialogue processes between the stakeholders taking more holistic systems perspectives. Dialogue-based change processes may be more common in the Nordic countries compared to other parts of the world. It is argued that the Nordic countries have unique opportunities in this respect (see the following abstract by Schiller et al), with a potential successful outcome in terms of macroeconomic indicators (discussed by Olesen et al., 2008). Thus, we suggest increased focus on our vision: “a Nordic Model for development of more sustainable production systems in healthcare”. Future R&D performed within the framework of our NOVO network should substantiate this hypothesis. In practical terms, this necessitates expanded research protocols.

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