New paper: New technologies and workplace learning

New paper: New technologies and workplace learning

As an active member of our research network Protehus, Dr. Nicola Cangialosi is involved in different international research projects (for instance, with senior researchers like Prof. Carlo Odoardi and Prof. Adalgisa Battistelli) as well as to the training of the PhD students from our research group.

From Italy, our friend and colleague, Dr. Cangialosi paused in his research activities to share with us some ideas about how the integration of emerging technologies within an organization can impact on learning processes at work. Here answers to our questions.

PhD. Nicola Cangialosi

Can you tell us about you and the subject of your research?

I’m Nicola Cangialosi and I am Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Florence. My academic interests aim at exploring how technologies relating to industry 4.0 are modifying the workplace and how learning processes are involved in the effective adoption and exploitation of new technologies. Additionally, I’m experimenting with new and different methodologies of statistical analysis with the goal of capturing the effects of industry 4.0 on psychosocial phenomena from different and wider perspectives

What are the main theoretical aspects of your research?

My research approach stems from several theoretical perspectives, including Social learning theory and Social Network Theory. Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 1963) suggests that people learn within a social context through processes such as modeling, observational learning, and imitation, while Social Network Theory (Burt, 1982) is the study of how people interact with others inside their network. The role these theories in the context of workplace learning has to do with the active positioning of people in their network and with the activation of directed and specific learning strategies. In organizational settings significant learning happens where people have an advantage due to their networks position, as contacts in a network provide information, opportunities and perspectives that can be beneficial to the person.

What are the most important results of your work?

Preliminary results point at the fact that the introduction and integration of new technological advances in the workplace do not automatically lead to increased performances unless accompanied by profound transformations of employees’ KSAOs. Creating a workplace learning environment requires a deep knowledge of the social and relational networks within the organizations but yields the best results for individuals as well as the organization, enabling the workforce to acquire knowledge and skills regularly and autonomously on the job, providing the potential for more significant learning experiences than formal training and development.

What are the organizational implications of your research?

With the advent of the 4th industrial revolution, we are gradually coming to consider employees’ learning as a key component for organizational success and survival. The increasing complexity and dynamism of work processes of the Industry 4.0 demands highly qualified workers that are expected to master a wide variety of requirements, e.g., commissioning, operation, troubleshooting, maintenance, repair, and preventive maintenance. In this context of ever-changing job requirements, traditional training practices seem to be ineffective, as they are often expensive, static, and quickly outdated. To match the pace of Industry 4.0, employees must always be building new skills and adding to their knowledge, or they will soon become redundant in this fast-everchanging environment, eventually leading the company lose competitive advantage. Therefore, organizations must develop new strategies to help employees to constantly improve and adjust their KSAOs.

Selected example

Cangialosi, N., Odoardi, C., Battistelli, A., & Baldaccini, A. (2021). The Social Side of Innovation: When and Why Advice Network Centrality Promotes Innovative Work Behaviours. Creativity and Innovation Management, 1-12.

About the researchers

  • Nicola Cangialosi, Postdoctoral researcher, University of Florence
  • Carlo Odoardi, Associate Professor, University of Florence
  • Adalgisa Battistelli, Full Professor, University of Bordeaux

Related references

  • Bandura, A. (1977). Social Learning Theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • Burt, R. S. (1982). Toward a Structural Theory of Action. NY: Academic Press.
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