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View from the top: executive perceptions of the value of learning

Valerie Anderson (Portsmouth Business School, Portsmouth, UK.)

Strategic HR Review

ISSN: 1475-4398

Article publication date: 20 June 2008




This paper aims to outline important lessons for HR professionals who seek to ensure that investment in learning delivers strategic value to the organization.


Making use of data from semi‐structured interviews, the paper explores the extent to which perceptions of the strategic value of learning held by senior HR professionals are aligned with those of senior operational managers.


The data indicate what executives expect learning to deliver at an organizational level, the challenges of aligning learning to strategic priorities and the ways in which HR professionals are measuring and reporting on the value of learning. A trend away from “return on investment” approaches to “return on expectation” assessments of the value of learning is identified.

Research limitations/implications

In addition to the views of senior managers, further research into the value expectations of line managers and other stakeholder groups is now required.

Practical implications

The article highlights the importance of identifying and communicating the alignment of learning strategy with organizational priorities, the need for proactive dialogue between HR professionals and senior decision makers to develop management trust in the learning value contribution and the development of a balanced range of value measures and assessments that are significant for the organization in its specific context.


Traditional measures of training effectiveness have focused on the functional interests of learners and trainers. This research shifts attention to expectations at a strategic level and the consequences of this for measuring and reporting on the value of learning.



Anderson, V. (2008), "View from the top: executive perceptions of the value of learning", Strategic HR Review, Vol. 7 No. 4, pp. 11-16.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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