Presentation Details

The Fourth International Conference on Knowledge, Culture and Change in Organisations

Defying Learning: Barriers to Organizational Learning and Human Capital Development

Fatima Wang, Ming Lim.

Corporations have increasingly come to realize the importance of human capital development and organizational learning. Many have made significant investments in a knowledge-friendly culture both within and without the organization – through new practices in team-building, collaborative software (intranets and extranets), cross-functional work teams, and e-Learning for employees to share information and acquire new knowledge across space-time barriers.

But what has been the payoff from organizations’ investments in human capital development and learning? While there is no doubt that new thinking about organizational learning has had a positive impact in the workplace, key challenges to its successful implementation and sustained impact have emerged. These challenges are not merely, or even primarily, technical in nature. They can be political, social, or market-related barriers to empowerment and learning.

In the process, organizational cultures, job roles, and individuals’ perceptions of change and how to manage it have undergone great transformation. The wider issue of cultural barriers to learning in cross-border interactions should also be studied.

In our present research on organizational learning and human capital development, we have observed both local and international companies who have tried to encourage personal growth of their employees and realize benefits in performance and morale. An in-depth analysis has shown that efforts in this area have been unsuccessful or successful only to a certain extent. Conscious and unconscious barriers that persist or have appeared after the introduction of learning programs have led to dysfunctional modes of learning. The authors further suggest possible directions for improvement.


Fatima Wang  (United Kingdom)
PhD Candidate
Judge Institute of Management
University of Cambridge

Ms. Fatima Wang is currently doing PhD research on the topic of cross-cultural knowledge transfer at the Judge Institute of Management Studies, Cambridge University. Before undertaking her doctoral studies, she was working with several food and retail companies under the President Group where she managed international joint venture projects for Asia and Europe. She was also a Lecturer at Chaoyang University in Marketing, Business Law and Translation. Prior to this, she was an Assistant Research Fellow of the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, responsible for APEC and PECC. Ms. Wang was born in Taiwan and brought up in Latin America and Europe. After undergraduate studies in translation and law at the University of Paris, she then obtained a Master's in Business Studies from the University of Kent and a MBA from the University of Deusto in Spain.

Ming Lim  (United Kingdom)
PhD Candidate
Judge Institute of Management Studies
University of Cambridge

  • Organizational Learning
  • Human Capital
  • E-learning
  • Knowledge
  • Culture

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)