Vicarious Learning in a Digital Environment: A Case Study at a Big Four

AbstractIn the United States, $162 billion was spent on corporate development in 2012. Yet, some studies unveil a “The Great Training Robbery”, showing that no more than 10% of training expenses are effective. This research examines the misalignment between the investment in formal training settings and the actual learning behaviors which rely mostly on informal learning and digital tools (i.e. symbolic environment), empowered by an increasingly interconnected world. This research aims at understanding the emerging behaviors of learning in context among auditors and consultants from a French affiliate of a Big Four company. Based on Bandura’s work on learning in an ultra-connected universe, we identify and develop four informal vicarious learning behaviors based on symbolic media. Our work has implications for Human Resources’ value proposition which shifts away from offering content-based training to developing learning capacity.

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