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Developing a measurement scale for organizational learning capabilities in China

Wanwen Dai (Nanjing University, Nanjing, China)
Jan Ketil K. Arnulf (Bi Norwegian Business School, Oslo, Norway)
Laileng Iao (Macau University of Science and Technology, Macau, China)
Meng Liang (Nanjing University, Nanjing, China)
Haojin Dai (The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia)

Nankai Business Review International

ISSN: 2040-8749

Article publication date: 24 June 2021

Issue publication date: 9 September 2021




The purpose of this study was to develop a measurement instrument for organizational learning capability (OLC) in a Chinese management context. Previous research has indicated a need for measurement instruments with proven ecological validity in China, because the learning capability of organizations is influenced by the organization’s external environment.


The authors followed a consequent inductive procedure from item sampling through exploratory factor analysis (EFA) to confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and nomological validation. The initial part sampled relevant descriptors from a diverse sample of 159 employees from heterogeneous backgrounds in China. After sorting by an expert panel, EFA of data from a sample of 161 executive students yielded a three-dimensional construct comprising knowledge acquisition, knowledge sharing and knowledge utilization. These three constructs were again tested in CFA using a sample of 357 employees from five companies.


The findings across the three samples resulted in a three-dimensional measurement scale that is called as the organizational learning capability questionnaire (OLCQ). The OLCQ displayed high internal consistency, reliability and nomological validity.

Research limitations/implications

This focus of this study has only been to establish a measurement instrument that allows indigenous research on organizational learning in China. The approach was statistically driven grounded approach, not a theoretical assumption of learning mechanisms special to the Chinese culture. Further research is needed to estimate how this approach yields results that are different from other cultures or the extent to which our findings can be explained by features of the Chinese culture or business environment.

Practical implications

This study offers a practical measurement instrument to assess practical and scientific problems of organizational learning in China.

Social implications

The work here emphasizes the necessity of a knowledge sharing community for organizational learning to appear. It addresses a call for more indigenous Chinese management research.


The authors provide a measurement instrument for OLC with proven ecological validity and with promising consequences for research and practice in China. The instrument is empirically grounded in the practices and behaviors of Chinese managers, avoiding biases that stem from previously identified shortcomings in cross-cultural management research. To the knowledge, it is the first of its kind and a contribution to a call for indigenous management theories with contextual validity.



Dai, W., Arnulf, J.K.K., Iao, L., Liang, M. and Dai, H. (2021), "Developing a measurement scale for organizational learning capabilities in China", Nankai Business Review International, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 434-457.



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