ABSTRACT

The accelerated emergence of new work practices, which are increasingly specialised, distributed and continuously changing, influences individuals’ tradi - tional learning processes. The constant need to adapt to new situational constraints that require acting under various levels of uncertainty while dealing with complex, ill-structured problems poses enormous challenges on various systemic levels. First, learning needs in workplaces are increasingly idiosyncratic, defined by the composition of personal dispositions (knowledge, skills, attitudes, orientations) on one hand and specific work tasks on the other. Second, we have to deal with changing job roles, which emerge and develop through new work practices and learning. This results in a growing demand for informal, self-directed learning. Learning and work seemingly become more and more connected and integrated. It is quite evident that these developments call for a different analytical perspective on learning processes in professional contexts. However, they also fundamentally challenge individual and collective ways of going about work. Third, these developments have consequences for human resource and training departments. Formal development and training, in which specific learning deficits in a particular domain are treated with pre-designed instructional episodes with predictable outcomes, become increasingly outdated. In the midst of growing digitalisation, learning processes grow more and more entwined with – and supported by – various technological solutions. There is often no time to stop and develop instruction and training programmes, because the nearly instantaneous distribution of ideas mediated by digital and networked technology may have already changed the essence of the problem.