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

Reciprocal benefits, legacy and risk: Applying Ellinger and Bostrom’s model of line manager role identity as facilitators of learning

Paul Campbell (Scottish Water, Glasgow, UK)
Peter Evans (University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK)

European Journal of Training and Development

ISSN: 2046-9012

Article publication date: 15 February 2016




The purpose of this paper is to explore the beliefs held by managers about their roles as facilitators of learning with their employees in a public utilities organisation.


The research was based on Ellinger and Bostrom’s (2002) study on managers’ beliefs on their role as facilitators of learning in learning-orientated firms. Abductive research logic was used in a small sample in depth qualitative study using critical incident interviews.


Managers in the study conveyed strong self-efficacy and outcome beliefs confirming the central role in workplace learning of line managers who adopt a coaching approach. Key new insights were also found in managers’ beliefs on acting as role models within the organisation and their beliefs on the need to manage skills-related organisational risk.

Research limitations/implications

A key limitation of the research is inherent in the use of critical incident technique, as it provides information on the nature of “atypical events” as opposed to more gradual, tacit and typically ongoing learning at work.

Practical implications

The managers’ belief map derived from the data provides a context-specific “target of change” with which to challenge the wider organisation regarding learning facilitation. The research also shows how industry-specific contexts may provide specific pathways for developing managers in their role as facilitators of learning.


The value of the research is twofold: first, providing further validation of the findings from Ellinger and Bostrom’s (2002) research on managers’ beliefs on the effective facilitation of workplace learning; second, additional insights on managerial beliefs regarding role modelling and succession planning are identified, and the implications for management development are discussed.



Campbell, P. and Evans, P. (2016), "Reciprocal benefits, legacy and risk: Applying Ellinger and Bostrom’s model of line manager role identity as facilitators of learning", European Journal of Training and Development, Vol. 40 No. 2, pp. 74-89.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles