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Approaches to learning in the context of work – workplace learning and human resources

Ulrik Brandi (Danish School of Education, Aarhus University, Copenhagen, Denmark)
Rosa Lisa Iannone (Faculty of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, University of Luxembourg, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 10 May 2021

Issue publication date: 15 June 2021




With the purpose of promoting cross-field dialogue, this paper aims to review workplace learning (WPL) and human resource (HR) literature. The authors endeavour a conceptual examination and discussion of the bridges that link both research fields in relation to learning, in an effort to establish an integrated understanding of learning in workplaces.


This paper uses a scoping review focused on how learning is approached in WPL and HR studies. An analysis of the selected literature reveals fundamental themes and dimensions that further our understanding of learning in the context of work.


Overall, there are three learning dimensions where WPL and HR conceptually interrelate, namely, skills, incentives and work design. The scoping review also shows that HR is output-oriented and looks to learning as capital for enterprises, especially in light of enterprise performance for competence development. WPL centres more upon socio-cultural and practice-based configurations and the individual. It encompasses the human dimension of learning as something enriching the whole of life, including work life.


This paper contributes with a unique inquiry into the interrelations between WPL and HR approaches to learning, highlighting the complementarity between WPL theoretical features and HR practices. At the core of our findings is that WPL becomes analytically visible through how HR learning strategies are designed and deployed in the forms of skill development, incentive structures and work design, referring to both workplace structure and cultural features.



Brandi, U. and Iannone, R.L. (2021), "Approaches to learning in the context of work – workplace learning and human resources", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 33 No. 5, pp. 317-333.



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