Lifelong learning arrangements in chinese organizations in the context of an emerging knowedge economy

Yao Dilin Meiyi

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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There is a proverb in China: huo dao lao, xue dao lao, which means keep on learning as long as you live. Though this is an ancient thought for Lifelong Learning, the meaning of the current research in Lifelong Learning is still up to date. Kessels (2001) stated that our society is gradually moving towards a knowledge economy: an economy in which the application of knowledge replaces the importance of capital, raw materials, and labor as the main means of production. He suggests that knowledge productivity will remain the dominant economic factor in a knowledge society. He defined knowledge productivity as the ability to gather information, generate new knowledge, disseminate, and apply this knowledge to achieve stepwise improvement and radical innovation. Kessels (2001) concluded that the demand for knowledge productivity and the importance of continuous learning are described as the two sides of the same coin. Kessels’ statement stresses that continuous learning is of vital importance in a knowledge society. DeSimone, Werner and Harris (2002) acknowledged that organizations face many challenges as a new century unfolds before us. The increasing globalization and technological revolution (in particular, the Internet) have been identified as two primary factors that make for a new competitive landscape. Given the rapid changes that all organizations face, it is clear that employees must continue the learning process throughout their careers in order to meet these challenges. DeSimone, Werner and Harris (2002) suggested that organizations must find a way to provide Lifelong Learning opportunities to all of their employees, and meeting the need for lifelong individual learning is one of the present five challenges, which is currently facing the field of HRD. Lifelong Learning is necessary at a national, organizational, and individual level to survive international competition (Van Woerkom, 2003). This project is intended to explore Lifelong Learning arrangements to satisfy the need for Lifelong Learning of employees in Chinese organizations in the context of an emerging knowledge economy. The thesis develops a new conceptual model for Lifelong Learning arrangements. This framework was constructed from the educational system level, the organizational level, personal characteristics, quality of Lifelong Learning and Lifelong Learning attitude and Lifelong Learning behavior aspects. The conceptual model led to a specific research design and the construction of a new data collection instrument, comprising a questionnaire that consists of 74 items. Six organizations participated in this research, two private-owned, two state-owned and two foreign-invested. These firms represent the current three main kinds of companies in China. 648 questionnaires were used to test the reliability of the instrumentation of the conceptual model. At last, the instrument was improved after the deletion of four items from their scale. In addition to the quantitative data, interviews were held in the six participating organizations to reveal the background of the research findings from the questionnaire, which gave more explanation on the data from the questionnaires. On the basis of the interview analysis of the conditions for Lifelong Learning of the six participating organizations, the author provides recommendations for the future of Lifelong Learning in Chinese organizations. A regular regression analysis was used to investigate the effects of education support, organizational level, personal characteristics and quality of Lifelong Learning variables on Lifelong Learning attitude and behavior. Two factors from the organizational level, namely communication and reward system, became the most important predictor variables for both Lifelong Learning attitude and Lifelong Learning behavior. Lifelong Learning attitude and behaviour are directly influenced by communication and reward system. The framework and recommendations outlined in this project are only a starting point and basis to the future Lifelong Learning related research. The general framework for Lifelong Learning arrangements in this research might provide a reference for such actions. Each organization should probe its own practical way related to the specific circumstances. Dahlman, Zeng and Wang (2007) argued that Lifelong Learning research and actions should be open enough to constantly absorb, adapt, and apply new and successful experiences globally and locally. The Lifelong Learning framework in this research also needs constant adjustment and improvement responsive to the changing demands of the economy and society. China’s Lifelong Learning system should be integrated with the evolving global system to keep itself updated (Dahlman, Zeng & Wang, 2007).
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • Kessels, Joseph, Supervisor
Award date19 Jun 2008
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs9789036526821
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2008


  • IR-59269


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