Everyday innovation – pushing boundaries while maintaining stability

Lena Lippke (Department of Communication and Psychology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark)
Charlotte Wegener (Department of Communication and Psychology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Publication date: 8 September 2014



The purpose of this paper is to explore how vocational teachers’ everyday practices can constitute innovative learning spaces that help students to experience engagement and commitment towards education and thus increase their possibilities for completing their studies despite notable difficulties.


Based on two ethnographic field studies, we analyse vocational teaching situations in which teachers and students engage in daily remaking of the vocational educational training practice. It is argued that these everyday situations can be understood as innovative transformation of participation and practice.


The exploration of teachers’ practicing new learning spaces sheds light on innovation potential embedded in everyday educational practices. The paper thus challenges the celebration of radical innovation and argues that innovation emerges from everyday activities in which teachers succeed to balance continuities and discontinuities. Studying innovation as a balance between change and stability thus involves emerging, negotiated processes of learning and participation in everyday practices where people talk, interact and conduct their work and studies.

Practical implications

Based on the analysis, we argue that students’ engagement in education can be enhanced by transforming the educational settings on various parameters such as buildings, artefacts, emotions and experiences. Thus, innovation should be recognised as emerging everyday activities in which frontline workers like vocational teachers are drivers for innovation.


Innovative everyday activities are often invisible; however, we suggest that they can be studied and thus become visible by use of the analytic term: “boundary-pushing“.



The authors wish to thank Lorna Unwin and Allison Fuller for their enthusiastic support of the notions of “boundary-pushing” and “invisible innovation” at the Researching Work and Learning Conference in Stirling, 201. The authors also wish to thank Stephen Billett for valuable feedback on an earlier version of this paper.


Lippke, L. and Wegener, C. (2014), "Everyday innovation – pushing boundaries while maintaining stability", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 26 No. 6/7, pp. 376-391. https://doi.org/10.1108/JWL-10-2013-0086

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