Targeting Innovativeness through Informal Learning: The Experience of Lithuanian SMEs
Innovation is one of the main factors assuring competitive advantage of the enterprises in saturated markets. How to stay innovative is a question that bothers most of the enterprises as well as SMEs as they cannot compete on mass production.
We argue that one of the possible answers is lifelong and informal learning. The later one is still underestimated and requires further empirical testing. The research on informal learning and innovativeness has been conducted all around the world. It evaluates the time spent on informal learning, the type of learners, and the significance of innovativeness. The studies on SMEs argue of little attention paid to employee development in small business (Macpherson et. al, 2003; Rowden and Conine Jr, 2005). However the studies on informal learning and innovativeness in SMEs are not exhaustive enough: little attention is paid to managers’ informal learning, the relationship of informal learning and innovativeness has not been identified, significance of informal learning in SMEs is not highlighted. The research gaps are minimized in this paper. The aim of the paper is to define the relationship between informal learning and innovativeness in Lithuanian small and medium-sized enterprises. Empirical research conducted sending questionnaire by e-mail to the managers from SMEs in Lithuania. Analysis of 173 relevant questionnaires gathered is made, correlations between informal learning and organizational innovativeness calculated Findings revealed statistically significant correlations between informal learning factors and organizational innovativeness in Lithuanian organizations. However the level of innovativeness is not high enough. The latter finding requires suggestions on innovativeness improvement. The research has some limitations which could be explored in further studies. The research is conducted in Lithuanian small and medium-sized enterprises. Focus is made on relationship of informal learning of managers and innovativeness only. Further surveys on connection between informal learning and other organizational results could complement the study. Some implications are also defined. The relationship between informal learning and organizational innovativeness is proven. Paper also gives suggestions on fostering and facilitating informal learning in the workplace.
Keywords: Informal Learning, Innovativeness, SMEs, Lithuania
Dr. Raimonda Alonderiene
Assistant Professor, Intellectual Capital and Business Competence Department, ISM University of Management and Economics
Dr. Asta Pundziene
Head, Intellectual Capital and Business Competence Department, ISM University of Management and Economics