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Improving organizational learning through leadership training

Henna Hasson (Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden)
Ulrica von Thiele Schwarz (Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden)
Stefan Holmstrom (Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden)
Maria Karanika-Murray (Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)
Susanne Tafvelin (Umeå Universitet, Umeå, Sweden)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 11 April 2016




This paper aims to evaluate whether training of managers at workplaces can improve organizational learning. Managers play a crucial role in providing opportunities to employees for learning. Although scholars have called for intervention research on the effects of leadership development on organizational learning, no such research is currently available.


The training program consisted of theoretical and practical elements aimed to improve line managers’ transformational leadership behaviors and, in turn, improve organizational learning. The study used a pre- and post-intervention evaluation survey. Line managers’ and their subordinates’ perceptions of organizational learning were measured with the Dimensions of Organizational Learning Questionnaire and with post-intervention single items on organizational learning.


Comparisons between pre- and post-intervention assessments revealed that managers’ ratings of continuous learning and employees’ ratings of empowerment and embedded systems improved significantly as a result of the training. The leadership training intervention had positive effects on managers’ perceptions of individual-level and on employees’ perceptions of organizational-level aspects of organizational learning.


The study provides empirical evidence that organizational learning can be improved through leadership training. Both line managers and their subordinates perceived that organizational learning had increased after the training intervention, albeit in different ways. Implications for developing leadership training programs and for evaluating these are discussed.



Hasson, H., von Thiele Schwarz, U., Holmstrom, S., Karanika-Murray, M. and Tafvelin, S. (2016), "Improving organizational learning through leadership training", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp. 115-129.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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