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Transfer of learning from executive education programs in developing economies: the key role of motivation

Somashekhar Krishnamani (Centre for Executive Education, Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, India)
Yasmeen Haider (Crescent Business School, BS Abdur Rehman University, Chennai, India)

Development and Learning in Organizations

ISSN: 1477-7282

Article publication date: 4 January 2016




The purpose of the paper is to empirically investigate transfer of learning and its relationship with the training super-system. Specifically, this paper looks at motivation to transfer as an indicator of a transfer condition. The paper will also provide information on individual factors, work place factors and design factors of training programs that facilitate transfer of learning. This study will also attempt to recommend a procedure for design and delivery of executive education programs that will facilitate transfer of learning by identifying variables that were hitherto not identified.


This study is a descriptive and exploratory. Sample for this study has been drawn from learners who participated in executive education programs delivered by Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai. Respondents completed a questionnaire developed on the HRD Evaluation Research and Measurement model, Theory of Planned Behavior and the Learning Transfer System Inventory model. Variables were reduced by EFA. The researcher also met a few HR and L & D practitioners for one-on-one discussion. The ideas generated were bounced with subject matter experts and with faculty who were designing/teaching executive education programs.


The research findings are consistent with earlier studies like the Holton research (1996), (2001). Discussion also brought out the role of motivation in enhancement of skills, behaviors and knowledge. Many researchers have agreed that individual motivation factors play an important role for knowledge transfer. If the learners are not motivated about the positives arising from the training program, they would lose interest which would affect their self-efficacy and thereby the transfer of learning. The primary role of motivation to transfer comes out distinctly. Additionally, the relationship between motivation to transfer and learner readiness and performance self-efficacy is established.

Research limitations/implications

The research was done with the intent of doing a pilot study on the thesis topic that the researcher has chosen for his doctorate program and hence has methodological limitations of a one-time survey questionnaire. The study has a small sample size of 30 and could have a high risk of generalization findings. Additionally, data collection is based on self-responses collected during focused group interview which is based on the “perception” of the respondents and therefore limited to self-report data. The respondents are all from executive education of a Chennai-based Institute which means that the same survey done on another set of respondents could probably throw up very different results. Participants had undergone multi-phase leadership development program in small cohort. The results could vary if participants from open-enrollment programs participated. Use of interviews and/or observation of participants could have provided more rich data.

Practical implications

In practical terms, the foundation result will help L & D managers and executive education designers to understand the factors that play an important role in transfer of learning specific to Indian context. The research paper also conceptually explains the central role of “motivation to transfer”. The recommendations provided therein will help practitioners with a structured approach toward design and delivery of executive education programs. The recommended approach to design and delivery will help practitioners to come up with training programs that will provide more buck for every dollar spent.

Social implications

Return on investment on learning has always been a contentious issue. Clear understanding of critical success factors in executive education can help focused design, post-training support to ensure better knowledge transfer.


The study expands the knowledge base, regarding transfer of learning specific to India, by focusing on executive education programs which are rapidly growing and receiving great attention in the workplace. This paper is an original research initiative of the research scholar done as part of a pilot study on his PhD thesis on transfer of learning.



Krishnamani, S. and Haider, Y. (2016), "Transfer of learning from executive education programs in developing economies: the key role of motivation", Development and Learning in Organizations, Vol. 30 No. 1, pp. 15-18.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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