Implementation of E-learning in a Large Organization: The Critical Role of Relevance to Work

Grete Netteland


The literature on workplace e-learning recommends in general a standardized implementation process, in which the same type of implementation approach is used in all parts of the company.

The findings reported in this paper extend the previous research on workplace e-learning. The paper suggests that large, multilevel organizations with different types of work need to adopt a differentiated implementation process that takes the unique characteristics of the organizational units into account. Based on a case study of a large-scale, enterprise-wide implementation of e-learning in the largest Norwegian telecommunications company, the bottlenecks associated with different work contexts are explored.

Using aspects of Activity Theory and the five typologies of work introduced by the Theory of the Historical Development of Production as a conceptual framework for the analysis, six critical problems were identified during a four-year case study. The problem of Relevance to Work is described and analyzed, focusing on the disruptive role of this issue both in the introduction phase as well as for the sustainability of e-learning in the four main units of the company. The findings provide new insight into the importance of Relevance to Work when implementing e-learning in a corporate setting. By exploring the problem not only in terms of the current workplace e-learning tradition but also informed by Activity Theory and the Theory of the Historical Development of Production, the paper aims to make a contribution to the literature on e-learning implementations in large organizations.


Activity Theory, case study, large-scale implementation, workplace e-learning.

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International Journal of Advanced Corporate Learning (iJAC). ISSN: 1867-5565
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