Increasing the Level of Enterprise Innovation through Informal Learning: The Experience of Lithuanian SMEs

By Raimonda Alonderiene and Asta Pundziene.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Innovation is one of the main factors assuring competitive advantage of the enterprises in saturated markets. How to stay innovative is a question that bothers most of the enterprises as well as SMEs as they cannot compete on mass production. We argue that one of the possible answers is lifelong and informal learning. The later one is still underestimated and requires further empirical testing. The research on informal learning and innovation has been conducted all around the world. It evaluates the time spent on informal learning, the type of learners, and the significance of innovation. The studies on SMEs argue of little attention paid to employee development in small business (Macpherson et. al, 2003; Rowden and Conine Jr, 2005). However the studies on informal learning and innovation in SMEs are not exhaustive enough: little attention is paid to managers’ informal learning, the relationship of informal learning and innovation has not been identified, significance of informal learning in SMEs is not highlighted. The research gaps are minimized in this paper. The aim of the paper is to define the relationship between informal learning and innovation in Lithuanian small and medium-sized enterprises. Empirical research conducted sending questionnaire by e-mail to the managers from SMEs in Lithuania. Analysis of 173 relevant questionnaires gathered is made, correlations between informal learning and organizational innovation calculated. Findings revealed statistically significant correlations between informal learning factors and organizational innovation in Lithuanian organizations. However the level of innovation is not high enough. The latter finding requires suggestions on innovation improvement. The research has some limitations which could be explored in further studies. The research is conducted in Lithuanian small and medium-sized enterprises. Focus is made on relationship of informal learning of managers and innovation only. Further surveys on connection between informal learning and other organizational results could complement the study. Some implications are also defined. The relationship between informal learning and organizational innovation is proven.

Keywords: Informal Learning, Innovation, SMEs, Lithuania

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 16, Issue 11, pp.83-102. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.670MB).

Dr. Raimonda Alonderiene

Assistant Professor, Intellectual Capital and Business Competence Department, ISM University of Management and Economics, Kaunas, Lithuania

Dr. Raimonda Alonderiene has defended doctoral theses on managers’ informal learning in ISM University of Management and Economics, Lithuania in 2009. Raimonda Alonderiene is lecturing in the field of management and human resource management at ISM University of Management and Economics, Lithuania. She has also given lectures in Estonian Business School, Estonia; Stralsund University of Applied Sciences, Germany; FHS St. Gallen, Switzerland. She participates in the international scientific projects, conducts researches, and participates in the international conferences. The research interests are in the area of informal learning, human resource management and human resource development.

Dr. Asta Pundziene

Head, Intellectual Capital and Business Competence Department, ISM University of Management and Economics, Lithuania

Asta Pundziene holds doctor degree in Social Sciences (organizational psychology), defended at Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania. Since 1997, probation periods in Amsterdam Free University, The Netherlands; Uppsala University, Sweden; Heidelberg University, Germany; Sheffield University, England and other. The beginning of the career was in Vytautas Magnus University (Kaunas, Lithuanian) in 1993 with the responsibilities of the Administrator of the Pedagogical studies programmes. From 1996 till 1999 – Project Manager in the Centre for Vocational Education and Research at Vytautas Magnus University. From 1999 to 2003 - Vice-Director of the Centre for Vocational Education and Research at Vytautas Magnus University. From 2003 till 2004 – National Seconded Expert (END) at the European Training Foundation (ETF) in Turin, Italy. From 2004 until 2006 the Director for Change Management Programme at ISM University of Management and Economics. Since 2006 to present – Head of the Intellectual Capital and Business Competence Department, Editor of the Baltic Journal of Management. Main research interests are in Change management, Human recourse development, and Career development.

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