Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance

How Competitive Strategy Matters? Understanding the Drivers of Training, Learning and Performance at the Firm Level

This paper seeks to further our understanding of the links between training, learning and performance at the level of the firm. It starts with a critical examination of the conceptual underpinning of conventional approaches to this problem, approaches that dominate much of the academic and policy discourse. It argues that current attempts to understanding the drivers of training and the links between skills, management practices and performance, both rely on input/output models that have serious limitations, both for our academic understanding of the issues and for policy approaches.

The main body of the paper provides the outline of an alternative model which starts from the company’s competitive strategy and proceeds to identify its two main components, namely the technical and interpersonal relations of production. The utility of this model is then demonstrated through the use of case studies in order to provide an explanation of phenomenon that are either ignored or left as unexplained by the conventional approaches. The conclusion provides a brief exploration of the implications of this model for future research and for policy approaches that seek to enhance skill formation within firms.

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