Organizational Learning for Sustainable Development - OLKC Conference 2020

Call for papers for: Journal of Workplace Learning

Organizational Learning for Sustainable Development

Special Issue call for Journal of Workplace Learning -

Call for Papers

At the UN General Assembly in 2015, the member states adopted Resolution 70/1, "Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development". The resolution describes 17 goals for global sustainable development, also known as the Sustainable Development Goals or simply SDG’s (United Nations, 2015).

More or less, every country in the world have subsequently strived to translate the SDG’s into concrete practice. However, the latest survey has shown that none of the UN member states at the moment are meeting the set targets, and the researchers stresses that all countries face massive challenges restructuring policies but also the organizational landscape if they are to reach the defined goals by 2030 (Sachs et al. 2018). Even though the SDG’s is supposed to serve as a point of direction for the countries of the world, businesses (global companies as well as small and middle-sized enterprises) play a crucial part in the eventual fulfillment of these goals (Muff et al, 2017). As the General-Secretary of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon stated at the opening of the Global Economic Forum in Davos in 2016:

“Our planet and its people are suffering too much. This year has to be the moment for turning global promises into reality. Governments must take the lead with decisive steps. At the same time, businesses can provide essential solutions and resources that put our world on a more sustainable path”   

The message from Ban Ki-moon is quite clear. Companies all around the world must take upon themselves the responsibility of contributing to the fulfilment of the SDGs by integrating coporate sustainability practices in their mode of production (Whiteman et al., 2013). However, since Ki-moon in 2016 called upon the world’s business community to play its full role in helping to achieve the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, corporate practice in general have only changed so ever slightly. Contrary to popular belief and the optimism generated by the two major event co-occurring in 2015, namely the ambitious global CO2 targets set by the Conference of the Parties 21 (COP 21) and the Sustainable development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations General Assembly, the implementation of corporate sustainability programs has, as Leleux and Kaaij (2019) mentions, been slow at best, sloppy and ineffective at worst.

Thus, thing need to change and they need to change fast! Transition to more sustainable modes of production is a set task for modern enterprises if we are to ensure that future generation will enjoy the same possibilities to fulfill their needs as our generation does. However, companies also bear responsibility to owners, shareholders, employees and the community in which the company is located. Thus, successful sustainable transition requires that companies find ways to combine sustainable restructuring and business development (Economy, 2016. EU, 2018; B&SDC, 2017). Since the majority of the current research suggest that most companies struggle to adopt a more sustainable model of production (Johnson, 2015; Verboven & Vanherck, 2016; Pinelli & Maiolini, 2017) researcher must aim to provide companies with the appropriate knowledge and skills to manage the massive turn around called for.
The Special Issue is dedicated to the The International Conference on Organizational Learning, Knowledge and Capabilities (OLKC 2020). OLKC is an annual event gathering researchers from all over the world. It was held for the first time in 2006 at the University of Warwick, UK. The Conference is one of the initial forums where researchers interested in innovation, collective knowledge and how to integrate organisational capabilities can meet and debate the latest research and issues of interest. Since the opening, the conference has been held 11 times. Venues have primarily been located in Europe with one exception in Boston, US. This year the 13th conference will be held in Copenhagen Denmark under the heading ‘Bridging Organizational Learning - Collaboration and Co-production for a sustainable future’.

This special issue welcomes contributions from all around the globe that explore possible positive outcomes of relating and connecting theoretical and practical understandings of organizational learning in new ways – More precisely with reference to themes of organizational sustainability initiatives in relation to organizational development and organizational learning. Empirical papers will be prioritized.    

Guest editors:

-    Nikolaj Stegeager, Associate Professor, Department of Culture and Learning, Aalborg University, [email protected]
-    Anja Thomassen, Associate Professor, Department of Culture and Learning, Aalborg University, [email protected]

Expected number of papers in the special issue: 4-6


Submissions to be made via the Journal of Workplace Learning ScholarOne portal  and authors to follow guidelines found on the journal's page.

Deadline for submission in Scholarone: May 15. 2020
Review process ends: June 12. 2020
Deadline for submission of revised papers: July 3. 2020
Paper acceptance (Unless a second review is assessed necessary): July 10. 2020
Publication: Late  2020


Business & Sustainable Development Commission (B&SDC) (2017). Better Business, Better World – The report of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission. Tilgængelig på: [2019, 23-04-2019].
Economy, N. C. (2016). The sustainable infrastructure imperative: financing for better growth and development. London, UK. Tilgængelig på: [2019, 23-04-2019].
EU (2018). A Clean Planet for all - A European long-term strategic vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy. Tilgængelig på: [2019, 23-04-2019].
Johnson, M. P. (2015). Sustainability management and small and medium‐sized enterprises: Managers' awareness and implementation of innovative tools. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 22(5), pp. 271-285.
Leleux, B. & J.V.D. Kaaij (2019). Winning Sustainability Strategies: Finding Purpose, Driving Innovation and Executing Change. Cham: Palgrave Macmillian.
Muff, K., Kapalka, A., & Dyllick, T. (2017). The Gap Frame-Translating the SDGs into relevant national grand challenges for strategic business opportunities. The International Journal of Management Education, 15(2), 363-383.
Pinelli, M., & Maiolini, R. (2017). Strategies for Sustainable Development: Organizational Motivations, Stakeholders' Expectations and Sustainability Agendas. Sustainable Development, 25(4), pp. 288-298.
Sachs, J., Schmidt-Traub, G., Kroll, C., Lafortune, G., Fuller, G. (2018). SDG Index and Dashboards Report 2018. New York: Bertelsmann Stiftung and Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).
United Nations. (2015). Transforming our world: The 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly.
Verboven, H., & Vanherck, L. (2016). Sustainability management of SMEs and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. uwf UmweltWirtschaftsForum, 24(2-3), pp. 165-178.
Whiteman, G., Walker, B., & Perego, P. (2013). Planetary boundaries: Ecological foundations for corporate sustainability. Journal of Management Studies, 50(2), 307-336.