There Are No Digital Watercoolers: A Perspective Study on the Cultural Conditions that Enable Social Learning Within U.S. Multinational Organizations

Jennifer Neumaier, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

Organizations are transforming at rapid rates due to the continuous introduction of new technology. This transformation is requiring organizations to invest in themselves and their employees to bridge skill gaps due to this rapid transformation. To do so, organizations must leverage people, their greatest source of intellectual capital, by facilitating communication and collaboration to enable knowledge sharing. Knowledge sharing amongst individuals through communication and collaboration is a central part of knowledge acquisition in the organization. Communicating, collaborating, and sharing knowledge with others is known as social learning. Social learning, as a critical component of organizational learning, can be influenced by organizational culture because organizational culture influences an individual’s ability to learn. Research implies a link between culture, communication, and collaboration; but little is known about the influence, if any, culture has on creating the conditions for social learning to occur. This qualitative study explored the phenomenon of social learning from the perspective of the individual learner to understand what cultural conditions enable social learning. Qualitative data were analyzed resulting in three key findings. The three key findings identified that the individual, the organizational culture, and the use of technology, all play a role in how people socially learn within organizations. These findings contribute to the practice of professionals as organizations look to further incorporate social learning into their learning strategy. Considerations for future research include the exploration of strategies to create virtual communities and virtual relationships, as more individuals learn and work remotely.

Subject Area

Technical Communication|Adult education|Organizational behavior

Recommended Citation

Neumaier, Jennifer, "There Are No Digital Watercoolers: A Perspective Study on the Cultural Conditions that Enable Social Learning Within U.S. Multinational Organizations" (2020). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI28002326.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI28002326

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