Building belief in organizational learning: the role of organizational learning efficacy

Helen Shipton, John A.A. Sillince

Research output: Preprint or Working paperWorking paper


There appears to be a missing dimension in OL literature to embrace the collective experience of emotion, both within groups and communities and also across the organization as a whole. The concept of OL efficacy- as a stimulus offering energy and direction for learning - remains unexplored. This research involved engaging with a company we have called ‘Electroco’ in depth to create a rich and nuanced representation of OL and members’ perceptions of OL over an extended time-frame (five years). We drew upon grounded theory research methodology (Locke, 2001), to elicit feedback from the organization, which was then used to inform future research plans and/ or refine emerging ideas. The concept of OL efficacy gradually emerged as a factor to be considered when exploring the relationship between individual learning and OL. . Bearing in mind Bandura’s (1982) conceptualization of self-efficacy (linked with mastery, modelling, verbal persuasion and emotional arousal), we developed a coding strategy encompassing these four factors as conceptualized at the organizational level. We added a fifth factor: ‘control of OL.’ We focused on feelings across the organization and the extent of consensus or otherwise around these five attributes. The construct has potential significance for how people are managed in many ways. Not only is OL efficacy is difficult for competitors to copy (arising as it does from the collective experience of working within a specific context); the self-efficacy concept suggests that success can be engineered with ‘small wins’ to reinforce mastery perceptions. Leaders can signal the importance of interaction with the external context, and encourage reflection on the strategies adopted by competitors or benchmark organizations (modelling). The theory also underlines the key role managers may play in persuading others about their organization’s propensity to learn (by focusing on success stories, for example). Research is set to continue within other sectors, including the high-performance financial service sector as well as the health-care technology sector.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBirmingham (UK)
PublisherAston University
Number of pages47
ISBN (Print)978-1-85449-753-6
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009

Publication series

NameAston Business School research papers
PublisherAston University


  • organizational learning
  • self-efficacy
  • innovation
  • collective perceptions


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