Purpose - The purpose of this research is to explore employee perceptions of the development of a learning culture in a medium-sized manufacturing company that was aspiring to become a learning organization. Design/methodology/approach - The research comprised an extended interview with the company's Organizational Development Manager, a validated questionnaire on the learning organization with a cross-section of 80 staff, and semi-structured interviews with a stratified sample of 20 employees. Findings - The company was using learning to develop its competitive edge, and employees were at various stages of understanding and acceptance of the need for learning and competence development on the job to sustain and develop the company. A tension was detected between the company's objectives and the aspirations of some employees, but the majority appeared to accept the overt learning policy as good for them and the company. Research limitations/implications - Through circumstances, the sample of employees included a fairly high proportion already involved in training, so there was potential for some positive bias towards training and a learning culture. Nevertheless, the study provides some pointers for involving employees in the development of an organization that values learning and for resolving possible tensions between institutional objectives and individual aspirations. Originality/value - As well as adding empirical data to the theory-dominated literature on learning organizations, this study contributes towards a better understanding of the perceptions of employees in the development of a learning organization, rather than from the organizational or management perspectives that tend to dominate the literature.
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