Informations and abstract
Keywords: Institutions, learning, public utilities. JEL classification: J240; M530
Together with technology and other variables, the institutional framework affects firm structure which, in turn, generates constraints and opportunities for economic systems. These effects also concern work based learning which indeed does not refer to a form of abstract knowledge on its own, isolated from its operational context. On the contrary knowledge tends to be adapted to the organization it belongs to, even in formats that are very different to the original ones. Institutions specifically matter in the utilities industry. In recent years technological innovation, together with institutional and organizational changes, has pushed many companies to operate as «multi-utilities», managing a complex system of essential services, with a widespread use of innovative technologies, and interacting with a plurality of stakeholders having divergent interests. To face this complexity they employ a high share of knowledge workers, whose know-how relies on both tacit knowledge and theoretical skills. The purpose of this paper is to draw a classification of the main legal and institutional devices able to address the heterogeneous inefficiencies underlying training investments as they have been acknowledged by the economic literature and partially addressed by private contracts, regulations and social norms. Data on firm training in socially responsible Italian utilities industry provides some empirical evidence on this theoretical taxonomy.