Workplace learning: The roles of knowledge accessibility and management

Jessica Li, Gary Brake, Angeline Champion, Tony Fuller, Sandy Gabel, Lori Hatcher-Busch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine how knowledge management systems have been used by the studied organizations to improve knowledge accessibility and knowledge sharing in order to increase workplace learning. Design/methodology/approach: The study relies on a qualitative multisite case study method. Data were obtained from five organizations at a southern state in the USA. Multiple interviews, onsite observation, and documentation analyses were conducted at each studied organization. Data analysis used open coding and thematic analysis. Results were triangulated based on multiple data sources. Findings: The findings revealed that the learning environment of an organization is important for workplace learning. All studied organizations share a need for a conversion of tacit to explicit knowledge in order to facilitate effective informal learning in the workplace. This research concludes that engineering the learning environment through effective knowledge management should be a cohesive effort of the entire organization and demands congruent support from all levels of the organization. Originality/value: The study expands the understanding of issues related to workplace learning through knowledge accessibility in both business and academic settings. To improve workplace learning, one should not just stipulate technology interventions; other factors, such as the organization's design, work design, and the culture/vision of the organization, all play important roles in the creation of a learning organization that will induce informal learning in the workplace.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-364
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Workplace Learning
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 14 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Knowledge management
  • Tacit knowledge
  • United States of America
  • Workplace learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Social Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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