Dimensions of learning cultures: case studies on workplace learning in innovative companies

With the advent of globalisation and digitalisation, the pressure to innovate has intensified. This also affects learning cultures in companies. As routine activities become less important, greater attention is now being paid to the development of monitoring skills, process management skills, transfer and problem-solving skills and creativity. In addition, there is a greater need to be able to guide one’s own work and learning, which requires a high degree of personal responsibility.


The training concepts used in VET programmes need to be adapted in response to digitalisation and rapidly changing working conditions and work requirements. The key question is how learners can be trained to become workers who are autonomous, creative, flexible, ICT-experienced and solution-oriented. Fundamental considerations on the subject are based on the assumption that a company’s learning culture is decisive in the forward-looking socialisation of learners. Work and learning cultures that are conducive to innovation may typically be described as having flat hierarchies, a high degree of error tolerance and a relatively large scope for decision-making, as well as embracing specific common manners, goals and values.


Various case studies in Swiss companies are examined to ascertain how innovative learning cultures are currently being implemented or designed in companies that provide workplace training in dual-track VET programmes. We are mainly interested in the learning culture construct, which may be determined on the basis of attitudes, values and convictions. In this context, we examine how learners are socialised in an innovative, entrepreneurial learning culture (e.g. interaction with hierarchy, level of autonomy and decision-making authority, participation in design processes and innovations). The case studies should also generate knowledge of specific methods used to guide and support learning and their effects. Perspectives on dimensions of the learning culture are gathered through explorative semi-structured narrative interviews with learners, workplace trainers, employees who work with learners, HR officers and managers. In addition, monitoring protocols and key company documents are used to analyse contextual conditions.

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