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Learning experiences in mono-and intercultural workplace interactions – the job-demands-resources approach

Malgorzata Rozkwitalska (Department of Management, WSB University in Gdansk, Gdansk, Poland)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 30 July 2019

Issue publication date: 10 September 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the differences in learning experiences in mono- and intercultural workplace interactions and to address the research question of how employees experience learning in mono- and intercultural interactions.

Design/methodology/approach

The author reports and compares the main findings from two samples and 63 in-depth interviews with employees involved either in monocultural interactions or intercultural interactions, namely, 25 and 38 subjects, respectively. The abductive approach was used to analyze the data in interplay between empirical findings and theoretical lens of the job demands-resources (JD-R) model.

Findings

Learning was more often emphasized in intercultural interactions than monocultural interactions, which can be associated with the constellation of specific job demands and job resources in mono- and multicultural workplaces. The subjects involved in mono- and intercultural interactions portrayed learning, using slightly different vocabulary.

Research limitations/implications

The research gives some insights about workplace learning experiences and illuminates learning in social interactions and the JD-R model. In particular, it emphasizes the role of work design in promoting learning and identifies, using the JD-R model, job demands and job resources that can relate to learning in mono- and intercultural interactions. The results may contribute to the literature on workplace learning in culturally homogenous or heterogeneous social interactions. Moreover, they shed some new light on organizational learning via mono- and intercultural contact at work. Finally, they draw attention to the potential embedded in intercultural interactions and multicultural workplaces. Yet, the explorative character of the research does not allow for a broader results’ generalization.

Practical implications

The results suggest that job design may be of vital importance in stimulating learning at work. Thus, organizations should enable social interactions of their employees, especially intercultural ones, which are likely associated with more learning. Furthermore, to enhance workplace learning, they need to provide more organizational resources and support via HR interventions the development of personal resources of their staff to help individuals to deal with job demands and reduce strain, which impedes employee learning.

Originality/value

By applying the theoretical lens of the JD-R model to the analysis, the author exposes differences in learning experiences in mono- and intercultural interactions. The specific job demands (cultural differences and adaptation, the necessity to speak a foreign language) and resources (learning opportunities) inherent in multicultural workplaces can be perceived as a trigger of workplace learning.

Keywords

Citation

Rozkwitalska, M. (2019), "Learning experiences in mono-and intercultural workplace interactions – the job-demands-resources approach", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 31 No. 5, pp. 305-323. https://doi.org/10.1108/JWL-11-2018-0140

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited