To read this content please select one of the options below:

A study on digital learning, learning and development interventions and learnability of working executives in corporates

Nandeesh V. Hiremath (Indus Business Academy, Bangalore, India)
Amiya Kumar Mohapatra (FOSTIIMA Business School, New Delhi, India)
Anil Subbarao Paila (Prin LN Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research, Bangalore, India)

American Journal of Business

ISSN: 1935-5181

Article publication date: 23 March 2021

Issue publication date: 2 April 2021




The digital learning and learning & development (L&D) at workplaces in corporates is having a significant challenge, where only about 1% of the week is spent on L&D by the employees. There are an array of recent L&D reports–by Deloitte, 2019; Skillsoft's, 2019; LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report-2019; UK L&D Report-2019; FICCI-NASSCOM and EY “Future of Jobs” Report-2017–which have clearly been indicating that the digital learning is fast-emerging as one of the realistic option. The employees invest their time and energy for skilling/up-skilling/re-skilling for remaining relevant to the emerging business context under volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) world and also coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is being researched.


The L&D interventions have primary objective of enhancing skills, competencies and career growth among employees, and the learning engagement styles/ systems are undergoing dramatic paradigm shifts. There is dire need to understand the impact of sweeping changes with Industry 4.0 and HR 4.0; however, there are only a few industry-centric studies that are available to assess the impact of technology on L&D with digital learning. Hence, there is a need to study the factors influencing various segments of workforce in large corporates, where the learning engagement with digital learning is fast-emerging among corporates.


Given the digital learning / L&D context in corporates, this research paper has attempted to review and analyse the opportunities, challenges and emerging trends with respect to leveraging technology and innovation to enhance L&D to deliver the business goals, under the 70:20:10 framework, with case analysis of ten different corporates (across different industry sectors) viz., Genpact, Nexval, Airbus, Siemens, AstraZeneca Pharma, HPCL, HGS (BPM), HP, Flipkart and IBM. The A-to-Z of Talent Management and Leadership Development (adopted version from India Leadership Academy, Publicis Sapient, 2019) best practices are analysed, summarized and presented to indicate emerging trends in Industry 4.0 era.

Research limitations/implications

This study has been carried out for just ten major corporates/ multinational companies (MNCs) operating in various sectors. The sample size used is relatively less; therefore, the study can be carried out with a larger sample size and deeper data analysis and insights across countries/continents. At present, this can be considered as a base-research for undertaking deep-dive analysis. The sectoral analysis and cross-industry perspectives require consideration in next studies. To address the sector-specific issues, the research can be undertaken for either a particular sector such as manufacturing, automotive, IT/ITeS, telecom, aviation, agri-tech and pharmaceutical, knowledge-based industries, etc. or comparative analysis across few related sectors required.

Practical implications

This research has provided/shall provide a basis to understand the various factors that influence the L&D and digital learning ecosystem in large corporates. It is expected to provide a practical and also strategic perspective towards effective usage of digital learning systems (both in-house and open systems) for enhancing the effectiveness of L&D in the context of VUCA World and HR 4.0 around us. The proposed hypothesis of “The Digital Learning is the “Future of HR”, especially for the L&D in large Corporate Academies (in the context of Industry 4.0)” stands justified.

Social implications

The clear shift from training culture to “Learning Culture” is possible and feasible with strategically planned digital learning/ L&D interventions, which benefits the corporates, employees, customers and the society at large.


To the best of our knowledge, probably this is one of the first paper in the analysing the industry best L&D/Digital learning practices from an practitioners and academic perspective, as we live in the era of bit-sized and byte sized micro-learning. This study contributes to the academics by providing insights on possible digital learning policies that can be practiced by large corporates, where the “ownership of learning and career growth” is transferred onto the employees. The result of this study complements the evolving digital learning trends, in line with science of self-driven and lifelong learning principle.



The Authors gratefully acknowledge the support and cooperation from HR/L&D Leaders, CHROs and Business Leaders of the Corporates, mentioned herein this paper, for furnishing the relevant information for undertaking this industry-based case analysis research and also the authors/publishers of Industry Reports used here. The Authors also recognise and gratefully acknowledge the professional learning and continuous support received through NHRD-N (National HRD Network), New Delhi and Bangalore Chapters., as the Life Members of NHRD. We have not received any funding support for conducting this research from any organization.


Hiremath, N.V., Mohapatra, A.K. and Paila, A.S. (2021), "A study on digital learning, learning and development interventions and learnability of working executives in corporates", American Journal of Business, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp. 35-61.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles