Linking Organizational Learning to the Bottom Line: Methodological Issues, Challenges, and Suggestions

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This article explores some of the methodological challenges associated with evaluating the financial impact of organizational learning, and suggests some practical strategies for doing so. The intent is to educate managers so they can ask good questions and make informed decisions regarding evaluations of organizational learning in their organizations. Three challenges are addressed: (1) deciding what to evaluate — a specific learning intervention, or organizational “learning capacity,” (2) dealing with causality issues (changes in the bottom line cannot be called “impacts” without evidence of a causal link), and (3) building a solid cost analysis to help determine if organizational learning is really worth the investment. The emphasis is on a practical approach that provides enough certainty for management decision-making, without throwing in the methodological kitchen sink or settling for tenuous answers to important strategic questions.

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