jess watters 571660 unsplash

I recently worked on moving employees onboarding and orientation programme online. An important element of the onboarding remains in the area of informal learning. This article explores what motivates people to learn and I planned to adopt some findings in my artefact design.

What are the authors trying to do in writing this? Summary

Authors focus on the informal workplace learning (gaining new knowledge skills or competencies by reading a book, article, getting help and feedback from coworkers and sharing knowledge) and try to investigate correlations between employees motivational and self-construal factors impacting employees engagement in informal workplace learning.

They state the importance and lists main benefits of informal learning (reduced cost, initiated by employees so more relevant to their needs, facilitates employability and helps deal with changes, and contribute to human resource: collective knowledge is empowering and increase sustainability)


They distinguish between career motivation (long-term and developed by the employee himself and last through entire career) and performance motivation (short-term and focuses on certain goals or employees outcomes: e.g. goal setting, self-efficacy, expectancy theory)

Career motivation aspects

career identity – are you defining yourself by work? to what extent?
career insights – do you have a realistic perception of yourself, career goals and organisation?
career resilience – can you cope with career disruptions e.g. pressure, lack of resources?


Employees’ self-construal is a concept which describes how individuals defifine themselves and construe their self-concept with reference to their social roles, groups and relationships
Three types of self-construal:

Individual – people view themselves as different, independent, autonomous, unique; detach themselves from social context; are guided by their own personal goals and opinions

relational – people who derived their identification from the relationship with ‘close significant others‘. In their behaviour, they are influenced by the opinions and needs of these ‘others’.

collective – their self-identification derives from bounds with groups or ‘social categories’ e.g. department, unit, and they value social approval

Can be individual or collaborative. The main types are:

keeping up to date – individual employees seek for information and acquire knowledge by scanning the external environment

feedback asking* – dyadic information sharing – one to one sessions with supervisors
knowledge sharing – group activities (meetings or informal chats) *Feedback, and specifically ensuring that there are mechanisms for providing feedback are one of the basic principles of effective orientation programmes

What are authors saying that is relevant to what I want to find out?

Authors say that one of the shortcomings of past research was too much focus on differences in individual employees motivation (self-efficacy/learning orientation) But was it? Why do they think so?

Willingness to participate in collaborative knowledge sharing can be influenced by the type of motivation (specifically, aspects of career motivation) and by self-construal factors (level of individualisation/socialisation)

In conclusion – what use can I make of this? Relevance

  • additional areas to consider when interviewing
    • questions about informal learning, whether there is potential to support it with technology in other different ways than currently
    • question about motivation to learn – career-oriented? or goal-oriented?
  • considering types of motivational factors and self-construal in the context of informal work learning involvement