Company-based education: what's the payoff for employers?

G. Martin, J. Pate, P. Beaumont

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    This article addresses the question of whether company-based programmes of education repay employer investment in terms of learning transfer to the workplace. Building on earlier work by the authors, we use an in-depth longitudinal case study of a long-standing programme of continuous education sponsored by the US-based NCR corporation in Scotland. As educators, we expected to find that the programme would have been associated with positive outcomes, based on the belief that 'embrained' or formal, abstract knowledge can be transferred to the workplace. We were aware, however, that research in this area has not been promising in demonstrating learning transfer, in part because such a process is mediated by the quality of the transfer climate. Drawing on survey data and in-depth interviewing of a sample cohort, we found that the programme of company-based education had significant implications for learning transfer. Surprisingly, however, transfer climate had little influence on the willingness of employees to use their knowledge to make improvements or generate innovations at work. Finally, we found that these data supported situated learning theory, stressing the importance of tacit knowledge, informal learning, the communal nature of workplace learning and the difficulties in evaluating learning transfer. We believe that these results have important implications for the literature on the evaluation of HRD interventions, for human resource development (HRD) specialists interested in developing programmes of so-called lifelong learning and for practitioners working in the area of organisational learning and learning organisations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)55-73
    Number of pages19
    JournalHuman Resource Management Journal
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


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