Academic journal article Research in Learning Technology

Exploring Individual, Social and Organisational Effects on Web 2.0-Based Workplace Learning: A Research Agenda for a Systematic Approach

Academic journal article Research in Learning Technology

Exploring Individual, Social and Organisational Effects on Web 2.0-Based Workplace Learning: A Research Agenda for a Systematic Approach

Article excerpt


The application of Web 2.0 technology in professional, social and organisational contexts has rapidly gained momentum over the past few years. Social networking sites (SNSs), for example LinkedIn and Facebook , have been widely embraced internationally. LinkedIn (2011) claims to be the world's largest professional network, with more than 100 million members in over 200 countries. There are currently more than 2 million companies with pages on LinkedIn , and it is reported that there were nearly 2 billion searches on LinkedIn in 2010 (LinkedIn 2011). Some independent studies on SNSs reveal that approximately one-third of employees are in the Facebook network (Facebook 2011), and an equal number of employees have LinkedIn accounts (e.g. Skeels and Grudin 2009).

Web 2.0 has been heralded as having the potential to enhance learning because it presents a dynamic social platform where members can share, participate, interact, create and learn (Lucas and Moreira 2009). Along with the growing interest in Web 2.0 is a significant body of research that investigates the pattern of user behaviour with Web 2.0 in the workplace. However, there is surprisingly little systematic research into Web 2.0-based informal learning in the workplace.

García-Peñalvo, Colomo-Palacios, and Lytras (2012) find that there is generally a lack of acknowledgement of Web 2.0-based informal learning, both inside and outside organisational contexts. Chiu, Tsai, and Fan Chiang (2013) consider that research on web-based continuing learning is in its infancy. Li and Law (2012) point out that information and communications technology (ICT) facilitates managerial workplace learning, but it is unclear how this happens. Therefore, we consider that a need exists to study, and make visible, Web 2.0-based informal learning, in order to tap its potential for organisational learning and development.

Bock et al . (2005) study behaviour intention formation in knowledge sharing, and find that extrinsic motivations, social-psychological forces and organisational climate factors all contribute to knowledge sharing. Drawing on these findings, we develop our primary research question: how do individual motivations and social and organisational contextual factors affect Web 2.0-based workplace learning? The answer to this question will help understand the nature and process of Web 2.0-based workplace learning, in terms of employees' participation and motivation. Furthermore, our study will show why employees contribute and share knowledge using Web 2.0-based technology, such as SNSs, as well as the role of organisations in the process. Drawing on a selective literature review on models and theories related to social exchange, social capital and communities of practice (CoP), as well as organisational support, we aim to develop a testable theoretical model for further empirical study.

In the following sections, we first define the scope of our study, and then review the literature on workplace learning. We also review the literature on the foci of this study that is the use of Web 2.0 in the workplace and in learning. After that, we review the theories and research on social exchange, social capital, CoP and organisational support. Based on the review, we formulate hypotheses and propose a testable theoretical model for future research before concluding this article.

The scope of the study

Workplace learning takes place both formally and informally. Formal workplace learning refers to the learning processes and activities that employees are required to participate in, and that are immediately applicable to employees' job duties and/or roles (Raelin 1998). These processes and activities range from developing basic to high-level skills in technology, through to developing competency in management (Raelin 1998). Such learning is usually acquired through institutionalised workplace training programmes, and contributes to organisational learning. …

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