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versión On-line ISSN 1668-7027


LOPERA ARBELAEZ, Isabel  y  ECHEVERRI ALVAREZ, Jonathan. Freedom and human development in organizations. Interdisciplinaria [online]. 2018, vol.35, n.2, pp.395-408. ISSN 1668-7027.

This article reflects on the implementation of the human development approach in labor organizations. We will explain the socio-historical elements that led to its creation, the role of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the main pillars of the paradigm, base on a theoretical discussion of the concept of capabilities. We propose that the human development approach, and in particular that of human capacities, has diverse applications in the organizational context, not limited to the development of labor competencies. We recognize that the capacities for life in common can be strengthened in the work environment, since the organizations are also spaces of social interaction. Accepting these premises, employees can be educated for citizenship, while acquiring skills for productive life. A vigorous implementation of these approaches requires overcoming the economicist view of labor relations, giving organizations the chance to offer real opportunities, including agency freedom and subjective decision, as a shared responsibility for the development of people. The paradigm of human development has been widely applied in community work because of its impact on the design of public policies and social programs. In the 1980s, the ideas of the Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq were materialized in the first Human Development Report. Since 1990, to date, UNDP has continued to publish annual reports. Indian philosopher and economist Amartya Sen contributed to the creation of the Human Development Index; along with the American philosopher Martha Nussbaum have developed proposals to develop capabilities. The authors' work proves a high commitment to freedom, human rights and democracy, bringing the welfare economy to political science, economics and ethics. Although the focus has gained attention in government policies and social institutions, its application in labor organizations has not achieved the same diffusion. Recently, the UNDP Human Development Report 2015 has addressed this issue in studying work and its impact on people. Perhaps its lack of application in the labor organizations is that in these the subject is usually conceived as a means of production, not as an end in itself. Hence, development opportunities are usually measured in criteria of productivity and economic growth of the organization, instead of growth and development of people. This approach initially emerges as a critique of the economic model focused on the production of consumer goods, which sought to bring the benefits of increased output to the lower income groups. Far from enumerating the errors and neglects of the models that have sustained injustice, the approach proposes alternatives to pay for this "social debt" that has left great inequality gaps in the vulnerable population. Since its first report, UNDP has emphasized the importance of offering people and Communities options to economic alternatives for empowerment and the expansion of human freedoms. In this sense, the Human Development approach does not deny the important role that the economic conditions of individual, group or collective subjects fulfill, but its message is broader. While it is true that economic factors help meet the essential needs of men, economic growth has no automatic link with human progress (UNDP, 1990). It does not mean neglecting the GDP indicator, but how to translate that growth into the strengthening of human capabilities. We consider it is the development of the subjects that drives the organization, not viceversa. Therefore, the interest that people have in this proposal is special. The central issues for its implementation require defining this paradigm and its main foundations. For this it is necessary to contrast the concept of human capabilities and their possible equivalent in organizations: labor competencies. Finally, we present the implications of free agency and co-responsibility of organizations, since human development obeys a subjective decision.

Palabras clave : Human Development Paradigm; Labor organizations; Capabilities approach; Human freedoms.

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