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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2003

Janice Malcolm, Phil Hodkinson and Helen Colley

This paper summarises some of the analysis and findings of a project commissioned to investigate the meanings and uses of the terms formal, informal and non‐formal learning

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Abstract

This paper summarises some of the analysis and findings of a project commissioned to investigate the meanings and uses of the terms formal, informal and non‐formal learning. Many texts use these terms without any clear definition, or employ conflicting definitions and boundaries. The paper therefore proposes an alternative way of analysing learning situations in terms of attributes of formality and informality. Applying this analysis to a range of learning contexts, one of which is described, suggests that there are significant elements of formal learning in informal situations, and elements of informality in formal situations; the two are inextricably inter‐related. The nature of this inter‐relationship, the ways it is written about and its impact on learners and others, are closely related to the organisational, social, cultural, economic, historical and political contexts in which the learning takes place. The paper briefly indicates some of the implications of our analysis for theorising learning, and for policy and practice.

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Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 15 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

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Article
Publication date: 24 September 2020

Svenja Richter, Timo Kortsch and Simone Kauffeld

This study uses a holistic approach to learning at work to examine the role of reflection in the formal–informal learning interaction. The purpose of this study is to…

Abstract

Purpose

This study uses a holistic approach to learning at work to examine the role of reflection in the formal–informal learning interaction. The purpose of this study is to investigate how the reflection on a formal training affects the subsequent informal learning activities. This study also aims to provide insights into the effects of national culture values (in terms of uncertainty avoidance) on learning in the context of a globalized world of work.

Design/methodology/approach

In a longitudinal study, 444 employees working for a global acting automotive company located in 6 countries were surveyed 2 times (4–6 weeks between both measurements). Participants reflected on a training they participated in (t1: satisfaction and utility) and indicated their informal learning activities (t2). Structural equation modelling was used to investigate the effect of the reflection of training (t1) on the proceeding use of informal learning strategies (t2) and how uncertainty avoidance affects the use of different learning forms.

Findings

Results show a spillover effect: when employees reflect a formal training and rate it as satisfying, more use of informal learning proceeds. No effects were found for utility. Uncertainty avoidance had direct effects: high uncertainty avoidance results in better evaluations and more informal learning. Furthermore, uncertainty avoidance had an indirect effect on informal learning via reflection.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study is the first to investigate the formal–informal learning interaction longitudinally and to introduce reflection as a mediator within this process. Furthermore, the study provides evidence that uncertainty avoidance is an important factor for formal and informal learning in the globalized world of work.

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Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 32 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

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Article
Publication date: 10 July 2017

Karen Becker and Adelle Bish

Many organisations are reconsidering their investment in formal education and training, in favour of more informal approaches to learning such as mentoring, temporary…

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2984

Abstract

Purpose

Many organisations are reconsidering their investment in formal education and training, in favour of more informal approaches to learning such as mentoring, temporary assignments, stretch assignments, and job rotation. The purpose of this paper is to explore the ways in which managers have developed capabilities for their roles thus far and their preferred approaches for future development with particular consideration given to a comparison of formal and informal learning.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper reports on a case study conducted within an Australian nonprofit organisation focussing on the extent to which managers attribute their current level of management skills to formal or informal learning and the extent to which they would prefer formal or informal learning (or a combination) for future development.

Findings

Findings indicate a large part of the managers’ current management capabilities were acquired through informal means, and these are seen as desirable for ongoing development, however, there is also a desire for formal learning methods to complement informal methods.

Originality/value

Management development is a critical HRD activity however there is limited knowledge about how managers have built their current capabilities and their preferences in terms of the mix of formal and informal learning for the future.

Details

Education + Training, vol. 59 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0040-0912

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Article
Publication date: 8 May 2018

Helena Corrales-Herrero and Beatriz Rodríguez-Prado

Despite the widely recognised importance of lifelong learning, there are mixed results on its causal economic impact. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how…

Abstract

Purpose

Despite the widely recognised importance of lifelong learning, there are mixed results on its causal economic impact. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how economic conditions change the composition of participants in non-formal lifelong learning and whether the business cycle is relevant for the impact of non-formal lifelong learning on employability.

Design/methodology/approach

Non-linear decomposition techniques and matching estimators based on multidimensional covariates are applied to the Spanish sample of the European Adult Education Survey. The analysis controls for background, human capital and personal traits and draws a distinction between unemployed and employed workers.

Findings

The results show major differences in the volume and composition of participants before and during the Great Recession. In addition, there is a business cycle dependence of the effectiveness of non-formal lifelong learning that varies with the individual labour market situation. While lifelong learning proves more effective for the unemployed in recessions, for the employed the impact is greater in expansions.

Originality/value

The paper provides new evidence on the scant results of the moderating effect of the business cycle on the impact of lifelong learning. The analysis is not restricted to training implemented within public programmes, but rather extends to any kind of non-formal lifelong learning undertaken by unemployed and employed workers. In this sense, the analysis provides information about the optimal moment to invest in lifelong learning from both the policymaker and individual as well as firm perspective.

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International Journal of Manpower, vol. 39 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-7720

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Article
Publication date: 19 August 2021

Adriana Cristina Ferreira Caldana, João Henrique Paulino Pires Eustachio, Bárbara Lespinasse Sampaio, Maria Luiza Gianotto, Aurora Contiero Talarico and André Cavalcante da Silva Batalhão

This paper aims to explore whether formal, non-formal, and informal learning experiences contribute to developing sustainable development competencies (SDCs) among…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore whether formal, non-formal, and informal learning experiences contribute to developing sustainable development competencies (SDCs) among students in a Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME) signatory business school.

Design/methodology/approach

An online survey based on the students’ learning experiences and a questionnaire on sustainability competencies already validated in the literature were given to a sample of 274 bachelor students at a PRME signatory business school. Nominal variables representing students’ categories were created to test a set of hypotheses developed according to the literature. Because the data was not normally distributed, non-parametric independent-samples Mann–Whitney U test was conducted, and descriptive statistics was used to help the analysis.

Findings

The results suggest that a hybrid format with a combination of formal, non-formal and informal learning experiences is essential to maximising the development of SDCs and raising students’ sustainability literacy.

Research limitations/implications

This study is one of the first attempts to understand the importance of a hybrid approach in developing sustainable competencies (SDCs). Future studies could adopt longitudinal analysis to check the development of these competencies over time, assess students from different PRME signatory schools or comparing students to those in non-signatory business schools.

Practical implications

This study provides insight into how business schools could address challenges in developing sustainable competencies through redirecting their educational systems by balancing formal, informal and non-formal learning approaches to educate future responsible leaders.

Originality/value

This research provides evidence on how a hybrid learning approach could maximise the development of sustainable development competencies and, therefore, generating insights for educational policies.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Article
Publication date: 8 August 2016

Nadia Roos Spaan, Anne R.J. Dekker, Alike W. van der Velden and Esther de Groot

The purpose of this study is to understand the influence of formal learning from a web-based training and informal (workplace) learning afterwards on the behaviour of…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to understand the influence of formal learning from a web-based training and informal (workplace) learning afterwards on the behaviour of general practitioners (GPs) with respect to prescription of antibiotics.

Design/methodology/approach

To obtain insight in various learning processes, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 19 GPs. These interviews were transcribed and analysed with a theory-based template, that had been defined beforehand, but with an open mind for emerging themes.

Findings

The web-based training was perceived by GPs to change their prescription behaviour, mostly as a result of informal learning processes. Being a research participant and being a supervisor appeared to create most opportunities for informal learning.

Practical implications

The current research shows that being a research participant and/or a supervisor enhance informal learning activities, for example, reflection and social interaction, and thereby formal training becomes more effective. It is recommended to remind GPs regularly to reflect on their prescribing behaviour and to stimulate them to reflect and seek social interaction besides participating in formal training.

Originality/value

Our study adds to the existing literature by considering informal learning processes in an evaluation of the perceived effects of formal training. Our findings have implications for the design and evaluation of formal trainings with the purpose of behavioural change of doctors.

Details

Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 28 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

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Article
Publication date: 14 June 2021

Dong Liu, Yongchuan Bao and Guocai Wang

The purpose of this study is to examine how formal contracts affect alliance innovation performance. To understand the mechanism underlying the impact, this study tests…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine how formal contracts affect alliance innovation performance. To understand the mechanism underlying the impact, this study tests whether relationship learning mediates the impact of formal contracts on alliance innovation performance and how guanxi moderates the mediating effect.

Design/methodology/approach

This study is conducted with a sample of 225 manufacturers in China. This paper used hierarchical regression analysis to test the hypotheses and used the PROCESS method to test the mediating effect of relationship learning.

Findings

Formal contracts positively affect relationship learning, which facilitates alliance innovation performance. Guanxi positively moderates the effect of formal contracts on alliance innovation performance. Relationship learning mediates the relationship between formal contracts and alliance innovation performance. Moreover, guanxi positively moderates the mediating effect.

Research limitations/implications

Future research could investigate factors moderating the effect of guanxi on alliance innovation performance and moderating the effect of relationship learning on alliance innovation performance. Future research can also use secondary data to measure alliance innovation performance. Future researchers can examine how guanxi as a relational mechanism governance affects relationship learning.

Practical implications

Managers should conduct relationship learning in the process of alliance innovation and realize that reducing opportunism does not mean improving innovation performance. Moreover, managers should know that guanxi could contribute to alliance innovation performance with the help of formal contracts.

Originality/value

Prior studies have mainly focused on the fundamental requirement of governing knowledge exchange in alliances. Little is known about the mediating effect of relationship learning on the relationship between formal contracts and outcomes of innovation alliances. This study contributes to the literature by filling the gap.

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Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

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Article
Publication date: 21 October 2021

Florian Fahrenbach

This paper aims to depart from the premise that human capital investments and human capital outcomes are often tacit – an aspect, which is often neglected in the current…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to depart from the premise that human capital investments and human capital outcomes are often tacit – an aspect, which is often neglected in the current literature on entrepreneurial human capital. The idea of this conceptual paper is to shed light on the social process of how human capital investments and human capital outcomes can be valued and made visible through the validation of prior learning. Thus, this study conceptualises the validation of prior learning as a post hoc, the reflective process through which an aspiring entrepreneur is guided.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is conceptual and introduces a process model.

Findings

Findings indicate that the process of the validation of prior learning is well-suitable to inform aspiring entrepreneurs of their investments into human capital and their human capital outcomes. The process results in a (partial) certified qualification that provides entrepreneurial legitimacy.

Research limitations/implications

Thus far, the model is conceptual and should be validated via interviews and further empirical studies in the field.

Practical implications

Literature in the field of entrepreneurial human capital suggests that human capital outcomes are more important for success than inputs. Furthermore, context-specific knowledge, skills and abilities are more important than generalised outcomes. These findings have implications for the design of validation procedures.

Originality/value

Human capital has only been recently conceptualised as consisting of human capital investments and outcomes of human capital investment. However, thus far the literature falls short in acknowledging the tacit nature of human capital investments and human capital outcomes. This paper contributes a structured process of how human capital investments and human capital outcomes are linked and assessed. In so doing, this study extends a recent model of human capital investments and outputs (Marvel et al., 2016, p. 616).

Details

European Journal of Training and Development, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-9012

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Article
Publication date: 7 April 2015

Moira Bailey

The purpose of this paper is an investigation into the experiences of professional development of human resource (HR) practitioners in the North of Scotland, and the use…

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1940

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is an investigation into the experiences of professional development of human resource (HR) practitioners in the North of Scotland, and the use of non-formal learning in that development.

Design/methodology/approach

In-depth semi-structured interviews from a purposively selected sample of HR practitioners were conducted. Data from these interviews was analysed on a phenomenographic basis, to discover the qualitatively different ways in which HR practitioners describe, experience, understand and analyse their professional development and the use of non-formal learning in that development.

Findings

What emerged from the analysis were two sets of categories of description, one for each of the phenomena. An outcome space for each of the phenomena emerged, illustrating the hierarchical relationship within each set of categories of description as well as the dimensions of variation relating to the phenomena. These outcome spaces represent the collective experience of the practitioners on the subjects of professional development and non-formal learning.

Research limitations/implications

Sample size and the specific geographical area are acknowledged as limitations. Another factor which may be considered a limitation is that the author's position as an HR lecturer with a keen interest in the subject could lead to this being considered an “insider” study. All these factors are acknowledged. These have been mitigated against by the careful preparation undertaken during the research process which resulted from the author's awareness of these limitations.

Originality/value

This study has given a voice to the HR practitioners in the North of Scotland with regard to their experiences and attitudes towards their professional development and the role of non-formal learning in that development. This study gives employers, other practitioners and professional bodies an opportunity to learn from the practitioners themselves as to how they can help practitioners in terms of their development.

Details

European Journal of Training and Development, vol. 39 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-9012

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Article
Publication date: 7 July 2020

Xianhan Huang and Chun Lai

It is vital in today’s society that teachers are proactively involved in educational change. Given that proactive motivation is a critical driver of proactivity, this…

Abstract

Purpose

It is vital in today’s society that teachers are proactively involved in educational change. Given that proactive motivation is a critical driver of proactivity, this study aims to investigate how teachers’ formal and informal workplace-learning experiences were connected with their proactive motivations to implement educational change.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors used a qualitative case study approach to describe the relationships between teachers’ formal and informal learning activities and their different proactive motivations. The authors collected data from 17 teachers via individual interviews and open-ended questionnaire and performed analyses using a continuous inductive and deductive coding process.

Findings

The authors found that informal teacher learning can trigger three types of proactive motivation, whereas formal teacher learning is mainly connected with the can do and energised to motivations. The authors also found that formal and informal learning complement and compete with each other in shaping the can do motivation. Moreover, the authors found that informal learning played the dominant role in the reason to motivation, whereas informal and formal learning were separately connected to the energised to motivation.

Practical implications

These findings indicate that greater attention must be paid to teachers’ informal workplace-learning experiences. Specifically, teachers’ informal learning experiences should be actively integrated into their formal workplace training to enhance their proactive motivation to educational change. Moreover, teachers’ learning preferences and teaching experience should be considered in the design of teacher-training programmes.

Originality/value

Based on the proactive motivation model of Parker et al. (2010), the authors have uncovered the mechanisms of workplace learning that drive teacher proactivity. The authors have examined the relationship between teachers’ formal and informal workplace-learning and proactive teaching. The findings will assist policymakers and administrators to identify effective means of motivating teachers to engage in workplace learning.

Details

Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 32 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

Keywords

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