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Can work‐based learning programmes help companies to become learning organisations?

Kevin Ions (Faculty of Arts, Design and Technology, University of Derby, Derby, UK)
Ann Minton (University of Derby, Derby, UK)

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning

ISSN: 2042-3896

Article publication date: 17 February 2012




The idea of the learning organisation as an aspiration for a continuous process of learning has become widely accepted by many organisations. The purpose of this paper is to examine whether demand‐led higher education work‐based learning programmes can help nurture a supportive culture of learning and continuous improvement that helps companies to become learning organisations.


An analysis of students’ work‐based negotiated projects was undertaken to determine the extent to which their projects facilitated organisational learning. The analysis was carried out using an organisational learning checklist, developed through reference to the literature and research on organisational learning and learning organisations.


The study highlights the fact that although work‐based learning programmes can facilitate some aspects of organisational learning, the principles of organisational learning are not necessarily embedded in work‐based programme design.

Research limitations/implications

Although the results cannot be considered generalisable because they are based on a single case, further analysis of a greater range of work‐based learning programmes could establish external validity of the findings. Further research could include the development of an organisational learning taxonomy or action research to develop a work‐based programme that embeds organisational learning principles.

Practical implications

The principles of organisational learning should be considered when designing work‐based learning programmes.


The study highlights the importance of considering organisational learning when designing demand‐led, higher education work‐based learning programmes and outlines a method for analysing the extent to which existing programmes embed organisational learning principles.



Ions, K. and Minton, A. (2012), "Can work‐based learning programmes help companies to become learning organisations?", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 22-32.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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