The role of learning demands in informal workplace learning

J.M.E. Van Ruysseveldt, K. van Dam, Hans De Witte, I.D. Nikolova

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The role of learning demands in informal workplace learning

Purpose - Previous research showed that learning supportive factors in organizations (learning opportunities and learning climate) promote informal workplace learning. However, it is yet unclear to what extent learning demands, i.e. workers’ experiences of pressures originating from their work environment, trigger them to make use of these learning supportive arrangement to effectively obtain new work related competences (NWC). This study investigates the role of learning demands in informal learning processes at work. We hypothesize that opportunities for learning in organizations advance NWC development more strongly when learning demands are high.

Methodology - Dutch employees (N = 1711) participated in an online survey. Hierarchical regression analyses were used.

Results - Controlling for formal training participation, informal learning opportunities and a strong learning climate promoted the acquisition of new work related competencies (knowledge and skills). Additionally, learning demands proved to be beneficial for NWC development, as they strengthened the positive relationship between task related learning opportunities and NWC development. Unexpectedly, an appreciation learning climate advanced NWC development when learning demands are low.

Limitations - Study variables were measured using self-reports.

Research/Practical Implications - External pressures originating from the work environment advance effective workplace learning, even beyond the influence of strong learning supportive arrangements and formal training participation. Theoretical implications for explanatory models in the field of workplace learning are discussed.

Originality / Value - This study expands existing workplace learning models and frameworks by integrating learning demands as an important driver of workplace learning processes.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2019
Event19th EAWOP Congress: Working for the greater good: Inspiring people, designing jobs and leading organizations for a more inclusive society - Lingotto Conference Centre, Turin, Italy
Duration: 29 May 20191 Jun 2019
Conference number: 19


Conference19th EAWOP Congress
Abbreviated titleEAWOP 2019
Internet address


  • workplace learning
  • Informal Learning
  • learning demands


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