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Effects of goal orientation and unlearning on individual exploration activities

Satoshi Tanaka (College of Business, Rikkyo University, Tokyo, Japan)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 4 August 2022

Issue publication date: 1 February 2023




Although individual exploration activities have been shown to promote organizational change and innovation, few studies have clarified the factors that quantitatively promote such aspects. This study aims to examine how individual exploration activities are facilitated by goal orientation and individual unlearning.


The data are analyzed from 1,474 employees in various jobs in a variety of organizations in Japan. This study uses structural equation modeling to test the research model.


The results of this study indicate three findings. First, unlearning is effective in promoting individual exploration activities. Second, goal orientation has not only a direct effect on individual exploration activities but also a significant indirect effect on such activities through unlearning. Third, performance goal orientation has an inhibitory effect on individual exploration activities.

Practical implications

Managers should encourage team members’ exploration activities by setting learning goals for members and providing opportunities for members to unlearn the outdated knowledge or skills they are familiar with and learn new ones.


These findings contribute to the existing literature by demonstrating that learning goal orientation and unlearning play important roles in promoting individual exploration activities.



Funding: This study was conducted as part of a joint research project between the University of Tokyo and Mynavi Corporation. As one of its research members, the author discloses that financial support for this study was provided by Mynavi Corporation (no grant number). There are no conflicts of interest to declare.


Tanaka, S. (2023), "Effects of goal orientation and unlearning on individual exploration activities", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 35 No. 1, pp. 57-74.



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