The monkey on your back?! Hierarchical positions and their influence on participants' behaviour within communities of learning

Rehm, Martin, Gijselaers, Wim and Segers, Mien (2012). The monkey on your back?! Hierarchical positions and their influence on participants' behaviour within communities of learning. UNU-MERIT.

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  • Sub-type Working paper
    Author Rehm, Martin
    Gijselaers, Wim
    Segers, Mien
    Title The monkey on your back?! Hierarchical positions and their influence on participants' behaviour within communities of learning
    Publication Date 2012
    Place of Publication Maastricht, NL
    Publisher UNU-MERIT
    Pages n/a
    Abstract Organizational learning has been identified as a pivotal aspect in contributing to the competitive advantage of organizations (e.g. Argote & Ingram, 2000). However, despite ambiguous results on their effectiveness, traditional programs continue to dominate organizational learning initiatives. In this context, Communities of Learning (CoL) are an innovative methodological tool to stimulate knowledge creation and diffusion among members of an organization’s workforce. Previous research has shown that such (online) collaborative learning processes are significantly influenced by the hierarchical positions of individual participants within these communities (e.g. Romme, 1996). However, little is known about how exactly participants’ hierarchical positions influence individual levels of activity and performance levels within CoLs. The present study provides empirical evidence on 27 CoLs of a global training program, analyzing user statistics from asynchronous discussion forums for 235 staff members. The results of our study not only indicate that participants’ hierarchical position has a significant impact on their general level of activity, as well as their final grade. We are also able to reveal a group of “Stars” that lead their CoLs irrespective of their hierarchal position. Similarly, our findings suggest a certain duality among participants holding the lowest hierarchical positions. While the majority exhibits a “follower” mentality, a smaller subgroup appears to take on roles and behaviours usually assigned to team leaders. By considering these insights, managers of training programs can better anticipate participants’ behaviour and device collaborative learning activities that foster a vibrant learning environment, contributing to higher levels of cognitive discourse and social interaction among participants.
    Keyword Community of learning
    Online learning
    Organizational learning
    Hierarchy
    Diversity
    JEL D83
    I21
    I23
    Copyright Holder UNU-MERIT
    Copyright Year 2012
    Copyright type All rights reserved
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    Created: Wed, 11 Dec 2013, 16:14:39 JST