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Valuing errors for learning: espouse or enact?

Therese Grohnert (Department of Educational Research and Development, Maastricht University School of Business and Economics, Maastricht, The Netherlands)
Roger H.G. Meuwissen (Department of Accounting and Information Management, Maastricht University School of Business and Economics, Maastricht, The Netherlands)
Wim H. Gijselaers (Department of Educational Research and Development, Maastricht University School of Business and Economics, Maastricht, The Netherlands)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Publication date: 10 July 2017

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to investigate how organisations can discourage covering up and instead encourage learning from errors through a supportive learning from error climate. In explaining professionals’ learning from error behaviour, this study distinguishes between espoused (verbally expressed) and enacted (behaviourally expressed) values with respect to learning from errors.

Design/methodology/approach

As part of mandatory training sessions, 150 early-career auditors completed an online questionnaire measuring error orientation and help-seeking behavior after making an error as attitude- and behavior-based measures, next to measuring perceived organizational learning from error climate. Multiple mediation analysis is used to explore direct and indirect effects.

Findings

Covering up errors was negatively and learning from errors positively related to an organisation’s learning from error climate. For covering up, this relationship is an indirect one – espoused and enacted values need to match. For learning from errors, this relationship is direct: espoused values positively relate to learning behaviour after errors.

Practical implications

By designing a supportive learning from error climate in which members at all hierarchical levels role-model learning from errors behaviour, organisations can actively discourage covering up and encourage learning from errors.

Originality/value

This study applies the theory of espoused versus enacted values to learning from error using a triangulation of measures in an understudied research setting: auditing.

Keywords

Citation

Grohnert, T., Meuwissen, R.H.G. and Gijselaers, W.H. (2017), "Valuing errors for learning: espouse or enact?", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 29 No. 5, pp. 394-408. https://doi.org/10.1108/JWL-11-2016-0102

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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