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Cultural differences in work-related learning: A cross-cultural comparison of self-directedness and (in)formal learning activities.

Rensink, I. (2016) Cultural differences in work-related learning: A cross-cultural comparison of self-directedness and (in)formal learning activities.

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Abstract:Informal learning is regarded as an important means for organizations to be innovative and achieve a competitive advantage. In contrast to formal learning, informal learning is unstructured, in control of the learner and often takes place while employees are performing work-related tasks. It is difficult for organizations to make the shift from purely formal trainings to more informal learning programs for employee development, because informal learning and it’s outcomes are hard to visualize and measure. Cultural differences poses another difficulty for multinational organizations trying to improve informal learning across locations worldwide. In high power distance cultures for example, employees are used to follow orders, and might not be able or willing to take control over their informal learning activities. Because research on cultural differences in informal learning is scarce, this study aimed to investigate cultural differences in work-related learning (formal and informal). To explain these differences, a self-directed learning orientation and factors related to the work environment (work autonomy and leadership support for learning) were used as mediators between culture and learning. Culture was measured along three cultural dimensions, power distance, individualism and achievement orientation. A survey was conducted among 332 employees working within a high-tech multi-national company. Results indicated that culture did not directly influence work-related learning. However, a small negative indirect effect of individualism and power distance was found on the engagement in both formal and informal learning, This effect was mediated firstly through work autonomy and leadership support and secondly through the self-directed learning orientation of employees. Although more research is needed to confirm these results in other organizations and cultural contexts, these results indicate that in order to improve informal learning, organizations should focus on factors in the environment such as work autonomy and leadership support. As these factors differ cross-culturally, organizations trying to improve informal learning through the work environment should adapt their strategies to the cultural values of different locations across the world.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:02 science and culture in general, 70 social sciences in general, 79 andragology
Programme:Educational Science and Technology MSc (60023)
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