Conditioning factors of an organizational learning culture

Teresa Manuela Rebelo (Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal)
Adelino Duarte Gomes (Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Publication date: 5 April 2011



The aim of this study is to assess the relationship between some variables (organizational structure, organizational dimension and age, human resource characteristics, the external environment, strategy and quality) and organizational learning culture and evaluate the way they interact with this kind of culture.


Data were collected from 107 Portuguese companies, where a total of 1,122 workers were asked about learning culture through a questionnaire. Data about the other organizational variables of this study were collected in official documents, from scales and also from a structured interview with top managers.


The results revealed that an organic structure, an approach to total quality principles, and highly educated employees, could act as facilitators of the development of a learning culture in organizations. On the other hand, quality certification, firm dimension and age, as well as workers' age, could act as inhibitors of this type of cultural orientation.

Research limitations/implications

In spite of the meaningful results found, the cross‐sectional nature and the exploratory nature of the research leads us to look carefully at the causality of the relationships under study.

Practical implications

The results of this study, in so far as they point out some factors linked to greater cultural orientation to learning in organizations and some factors linked to less orientation to learning, provide clues for organizations concerning better management of their investment in developing this kind of culture.


In the literature on organizational learning and learning organizations, culture emerges as a key concept. In fact, organizational culture is mainly conceived as an essential condition to promote and support learning in organizations. Despite its recognized importance in the literature, little research has been devoted to this issue, namely research centered on the related factors that could contribute to its development.



Rebelo, T. and Duarte Gomes, A. (2011), "Conditioning factors of an organizational learning culture", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 173-194.

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