The contribution of learning communities to individuals’ knowledge and skills A study on how participation in a learning community precisely contributes to individuals gaining new knowledge and skills

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Organizations must be adaptable and agile in a constantly changing business environment. A benefit of learning communities, according to Jarvis, Holford, and Griffin (2013), is that they give individuals the chance to stay current with industry trends, pick up new skills and knowledge, and adjust to new problems and opportunities. However, the precise way in which these learning communities contribute to the skills and knowledge is still unclear (Clovin, 2015). Exploratory research should be used in order to delve deeper into the complexities and dynamics of learning communities, which lead to the following research question: “How does participation in learning communities contribute to individuals’ skills and knowledge?”. In order to come to an answer for this question, two studies have been conducted. The first study is a comparative case study, for this study interviews held for past research were analysed. For the second study, three participants of the learning community were interviewed before the first meeting and after the second meeting. These interviews were also coded and analysed which lead to some interesting results. Both studies provided the insight that there was a facilitating element: “Participants being expected to not only get knowledge but also bring knowledge to the learning community” which enhanced the participants’ commitment and learning process. Furthermore, study one revealed “relatability of the meeting’s topic” as another facilitating element that enhanced the learning process of the participants. Reflection and active interaction were the two elements in which learning communities contribute to individuals’ knowledge, according to the findings in study two. However, the contribution to individuals’ skills was less mentioned in both studies. Concluded, participating in learning communities contributes mostly to individuals’ knowledge through reflection and active interaction. Facilitating elements that enhance this contribution are “Participants being expected to not only get knowledge but also bring knowledge to the learning community and “relatability of the meeting’s topic”. The contribution to the individuals’ skills seem to be more indirect, since participants mostly gain new knowledge which they can later on use in their daily activities.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen