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To What Extent Does the Success of E-learning Depend on a Change in Organizational Culture? Essay


In the contemporary demanding world, the information-based ability of workers is an imperative prerequisite for companies to possess competitive advantage. The typical learning is unable to meet the objectives described for the learning necessities of employees. This aspect demands that organizations integrate e-learning for the employees to enhance the performance of the individuals that translates to organizational performance.

The accomplishment of the e-learning program largely depends on the technology used. More importantly, the employees and the organizational culture significantly affect the success of such initiatives. The readiness of the workforce to adopt and utilize e-learning is a critical aspect that determines the success of the initiative irrespective of the costs that ought to be saved and the technology used.

In fact, e-learning requires the availability of equipment that allows the electronic transfer of knowledge. E-learning defines the capability to control, support and administer learning and training material (Seal and Sivan 335). These capabilities are also impacted by the organizational culture that may limit the extent at which an organization may go to ensure it remains competitive. This study explores the extent at which the e-learning depends on changes in the organizational culture in order to be successful.

Main Body

E-learning entails a wide range of applications and procedures including computer-dependent learning, digital cooperation, internet-based learning and virtual classrooms. The aspect involves the dissemination of information through the internet, extranet or intranet (WAN or LAN), video- and audiotape, interactive television, and CDs. From literature, e-learning appears as a tactic and technology that enables learning.

In the majority of companies, an e-learning program is typically the execution of training and cooperation that is availed to workers through the organization’s LAN hence readily accessible to individuals at their expediency. Whereas it may partly stand-in for classroom learning, it is essentially designed to augment learning and broaden it to a wider audience while saving on the expenses (McIntosh 2).

Hosseini, Salimifard and Yadollahi demonstrated that e-learning is an appropriate solution for companies to deal with the shifting environment of business-connected information needed for the organizations to attain and retain competitiveness and diminish the training costs (p.42). However, it is closely related to the human resources function of an organization as a tactical means towards developing knowledge workers.

In essence, it leads to enhanced employee satisfaction, improved chances of career development, supple learning for workers, enhanced innovation, as well as improved operational effectiveness (Liu, Huang and Lin 2012). Majority companies use e-learning technologies to gain from such initiatives. However, due to the extensive investments initially needed and the elevated rate of failure, most of the organizations are hesitant to initiate such programs.

Hence, it is imperative for the human resource function of a company willing to implement such initiatives to evaluate the readiness of the company to accept the program. Besides, it is essential for the evaluation to be done from diverse perspectives including the people, novelty, attitudes, infrastructure and organizational culture.

The willingness to espouse e-learning is a critical factor that significantly impacts on the triumphant adaptation of e-learning programs. The organizational culture also affects the success of e-learning programs. In view of organizational learning, organizational culture can ease or harden the learning process. The process can also be reversed where e-learning can be a means to the changes in organizational culture.

According to Masie assertions, it is imperative for the corporate management to develop an organizational culture that supports e-learning (p.3). The tendency by workers to resist the use of technology often arises from the established organizational culture that may not encourage workers to embrace diverse changes that will eventually be necessitated by the changing business environment (Venkatesh et al. 428).

This is essential for the human resources function since changes are inevitable. Inherently, employees prefer face-to-face learning to any other learning modes. However, considering that organizations are expanding rapidly, this may not be rational. For example, it will be almost impossible for a multinational company’s human resource function to train employees around the world individually.

A human resource manager based in the U.S. will be able to facilitate the dissemination of information to any part of the world so long as the infrastructure is in place. This is cost-effective as the company can hold regular video conferences at the convenience of every employee. The trainer does not need to travel around the world to train employees.

From this illustration, it is essential for companies to establish organizational cultures that are flexible to adopt changes aimed at building competitiveness and profitability of the organization (Normark and Cetindamar 325). Rigid organizational cultures hinder the implementation of diverse initiatives. Typically, most of such changes could not be readily accepted in an organization.

Workers often view changes as a threat to the security of jobs. This is especially the case where technology is involved. Given that technology makes operations efficient, workers who lack confidence in their performance will resist any changes aimed at streamlining operations. Employees with such perceptions often incite others into resisting the changes irrespective of the benefits to the individuals and consequently to the organization.

It is essential for the human resource function to be in regular communication with employees whenever imminent changes are foreseen. The right organizational culture is essential for overcoming heritage of prior incident and previous values and norms. Organizational cultures are developed over a long time. While they are not policies that are immediately implemented, they develop naturally according to the corporate environment.

The management and the employees play a role in developing the organizational culture. As the organization grows, certain norms are developed and eventually become partly evident in many areas of the organization. The cultural factors are observed in areas such as corporate arrangement, assistance by the administration, the climate for novelty and transformation, the situation of the human capital, the managerial processes, guidance and learning, as well as the connection with information technology.

E-learning is likely to be successful in situations where the aforementioned factors allow the organization to support changes in different areas. The corporate arrangement is one of the essential areas of organizational culture that significantly impact on the success of e-learning. Thus, it is important for companies to have an elaborate organizational structure.

However, these structures should be flexible to allow innovations and improvements. Executives are aware that innovations are inevitable. Actually, innovations are encouraged in leading companies as they introduce new energy and synergize these structures (Govindasamy 288). Cisco is one of the most cited examples of how culture influences the success of e-learning.

Prior to inventing the phrase “e-learning”, a member of staff at the corporation recorded a film production and placed the tape-recorded on the company’s intranet. When the employee alerted a vice president, he was thrilled by the innovation. He sent messages around the company, suggesting that they watch the video. Everyone was so eager to watch that the Cisco system almost stalled.

This led to the innovation of placing videos on the company LAN instead of the company’s extranet. The interest in technology by the company led the staff to research further on the innovation leading to e-learning (McIntosh 2). The corporate arrangement was restructured to create a department that would specifically deal with e-learning. The company has ever since utilized video extensively to train the workforce.

The orientation of new employees is done through video interactions and this ensured saving the money on the costs of training as new employees could learn on their own. Such an organizational culture in terms of organizational structure flexibility is important for the success of e-learning.

The change in situation of human capital is another aspect that influences the success of e-learning. There are organizational cultures where the management hierarchy is bureaucratic to the extent that the top management will not allow the lower cadre any level of autonomy. In such situations, such cultures hinder the implementation and consequently the success of e-learning.

The top management fears that it will lose control of what the employees are engaging in terms of training. For example, in a unionized organization, an executive of training conferred with the labor affairs faction regarding e-learning. He was informed that this could not be done. The grounds behind it were that corporate directors could have whined on the subject raised.

In fact, one might question the reasons that could make the executives to whine concerning the extra education prospects granted to company employees. Upon investigation, it became apparent that the trouble was the immediate character of e-learning. Workers would be capable of signing in and take the guidance devoid of the executive’s approval. The executive would lose control of what the worker would learn.

A number of the situations were made available to people working here. One of them was administrative processes. Whenever an employee enrolled for an e-learning course, the executive was sent a letter. Often, the executive would advise the worker not to take the course. McIntosh claims that to a large degree, it was a control problem.

Executives wanted workers to take classes that were part of the executive’s plan, especially when the classes were during company time. The other issue in the equation was a perception issue on the labor affairs faction part. They were scared of the potential predicament. After the implementation of the e-learning program, there was no problem as predicted.

This is an illustration of how the situation of the people as a culture of an organization may influence the success of the e-learning programs. Prior to the implementation of an e-learning program, it is astute to confer widely with the stakeholders. The human resources division might prove to be the principal test. This is despite the training division being part of the human resource function.

The motive behind this is that the human resource function and the personnel anticipate all types of labor affairs troubles (McIntosh 3). The other aspect of organizational culture that impacts on the successful implementation of e-learning is the group attitude of the employees. Prior to the introduction of the e-learning concept, most companies trained the employees through trainer-led classrooms that were typically social.

Most companies that were established more than a decade ago face the challenge of changing the organizational culture in terms of training to introduce the e-learning aspect. The employees accustomed to the trainer-directed collective classrooms could find it challenging to comprehend the idea of acquiring knowledge without help, whereas sited facing a supercomputer.

The training method adopted by most companies is entrenched in the organizational culture of the organization. Most organizations typically use one method of disseminating the training information making it part of the organizational culture. When new employees are given training through instructor-led environment, they are accustomed all through the work experience to be trained through one system.

Hence, such workers believe that it is the only way that they can learn (McIntosh 3). If there is a powerful culture of trainer-led learning in the company, it will hinder the success of the e-learning initiative. Changing the attitude of the employees demands the interception of the human resources function. The department requires preparing the employees for the changes in learning methods so that the employees are ready to embrace it before it is launched.

Initially, the training can be introduced to the employees through social environment classrooms, and then the employees complete the rest of the lessons on their own. The trainer should also be prepared to assist employees who find it difficult to learn on their own until they are fully accustomed to the new learning method. In companies with powerful in-house training departments, the instructors themselves may observe e-learning as a risk to the job security (McIntosh 3).

The strong training divisions are usually part of the organizational culture, as they are not always mandated by the company policy. They develop on their own depending on the number of trainees, the lessons that are supposed to be offered, the influence of the departmental head, the frequency of training and the autonomy given by the management.

As the department grows, it becomes part of the organizational culture as the influence on the entire company grows. The human resources function need to address the fears of the trainers to ensure that they embrace e-learning. The trainers have the potential to derail the success of e-learning if they are not included from the beginning and the importance of the initiative demonstrated to them.

The human resources department requires or must assure the trainers that the adoption of the initiative will not jeopardize their jobs. The information technology department takes a central role in the company communication structure (Hung and Cho 173). Companies usually have a unique communication structure entrenched as part of their corporate culture.

The people in the department are aware of what is expected and new employees carry on the culture. Thus, it becomes essential to incorporate the unit in the deliberations anytime such a project is inaugurated. The people need to be made aware that such a move will make learning easier for new and current employees; hence, the initiative needs to be supported.

The culture of having the information technology department as the central source of electronic information needs to be changed to accommodate e-learning at individual levels. McIntosh asserts that it will be difficult for e-learning initiative in organizations where the executive does not support e-learning. There are organizations where the culture is framed in such a way that an initiative that does not originate from the executive receives little or no attention.

E-learning is an essential revolutionary event that requires the support of the chief executive officer. Thus, it is important to have the decision-makers take the e-learning course so that they are aware of what they are discussing. The needs of the employees are essential when developing e-learning. Fundamentally, employees in companies with strong organizational cultures usually lack some aspects of learning due to the perceived restrictions on how things are done in the organizations.

Learners may feel that they will be overstepping when they ask the human resources managers for the opportunity to access e-learning. This s particularly the case in situations where the course that the employees wish to undertake is not in line with the tasks allocated to them in the organization. Therefore, it is imperative for the designers of the e-learning program to consult with the employees about how they wish to develop their careers.

When this concern is addressed, the success of e-learning will have partially been achieved given that the employees will be ready to embrace the initiative. The change in attitude of the employees will assist in the development of the e-learning program that will eventually benefit the needs of the organization. In this respect, organizational e-learning symbolizes the mechanisms through which the company transforms the knowledge acquired by individuals into intellectual assets (Servage 305).

This indicates how the organizational culture can mold the type of learning that takes place. The mode of learning is often influenced by the needs of the company, organizational choices and practices creating diverse levels of learning. It becomes important that in designing and delivering e-learning, the organization must assess corporate conditions for learning as well as employee’s experiences in the learning procedures as they impact on the success of e-learning.

The motivation of the employee to participate in e-learning is preconditioned by the prevailing organizational culture. Previous experiences shaped by the corporate culture determine the motivation of the employees to participate in the e-learning program as it interacts with organizational structures. The issues emerge in linking the individual learning needs with the organizational practices.

There is usually conflict that develops in organizations in view of the individuals being identified as both a worker and a learner. Such structures require change if e-learning is to be effective. The attitude of the management requires change so that learning can be viewed as an investment in the employee as opposed to the employee being viewed as the sole beneficiary.

E-learning offers companies the distinctive opportunity to deal with swift changes in knowledge requirements (Isenmann 290). Companies, therefore, require being ready to embrace e-learning given that the concept demands a significant amount of investment in terms of finance and human resource. The management must recognize that e-learning at the initial stages will have an impact on the performance of the employees as they strive to engage in daily tasks and learning at the same time.

Some organizations have corporate cultures that encourage employees to learn continuously. This is through having a culture in which employees that take frequent training are recognized and given material incentives such as certifications and promotion preconditions (Masie 2). A culture that facilitates the recognition of employees makes it easier for e-learning to be successful.


Traditionally, training is an interpersonal process. Contemporary, it is an individual process where employees use electronic information to advance their knowledge. E-learning is contemporarily an essential tool that companies need to adopt to enhance their competitiveness. This requires modifications to the corporate culture while newly contemplating about the position of computers as part of corporate life.

Corporate cultural factors are observed in areas such as corporate arrangement, assistance by the administration, the climate for novelty and transformation, the situation of human capital, the managerial processes, guidance and learning, as well as the connection with information technology. The success of e-learning depends on the willingness of participants to modify these areas.

Besides, it is important to underscore that e-learning will not replace all other forms of training. Literature further shows that it is important for the management of an organization to understand the benefits of e-learning to the top managers and the employees so that they can assist in developing a culture that is supportive of e-learning.

An organizational structure that supports classroom learning easily integrate e-learning and helps workers to get time to use technology to learn. The management in such companies practically schedules time for e-learning and execution of daily tasks as the time spent in learning is viewed as investment. Certain objects are hardly carried out properly in e-learning, including the in-person connections and lab responsibilities.

This calls for organizations to ensure that e-learning does not replace all the learning process. When changing the corporate culture to accommodate e-learning, the support of the management is critical in ensuring the success. Changing the corporate culture requires the participation of all the stakeholders, including employees, management and stakeholders.

Factors that support e-learning include executives who believe in technology as an investment. The attitude of the learners and the trainers is also important as it determines the level of acceptance of changing the culture to embrace e-learning. Inflexible organizational cultures hinder the implementation of diverse initiatives such as e-learning. Thus, changing the corporate culture to accommodate e-learning requires the management to view the initiative as an investment that will facilitate the company to remain competitive.

Works Cited

Govindasamy, Thomas. “Successful Implementation of E-Learning: Pedagogical Considerations.” Internet and Higher Education, 4.3 (2002): 287-299. Print.

Hosseini, Seyed, Khodakaram Salimifard and Shahrbanoo Yadollahi. “On the Effects of Organizational Culture on E-Learning Readiness: An Iranian Experience.” International Journal of Social Ecology and Sustainable Development, 3.3 (2012): 42-52. Print.

Hung, Humphry and Vincent Cho. “Continued Usage of E-Learning Communication Tools: A Study from the Learners Perspective in Hong Kong.” International Journal of Training and Development, 12.3 (2010): 171-187. Print.

Isenmann, Ralf. “Progression in Corporate Sustainability Reporting: Taxonomy for Sustainability Reports.” International Journal of Training and Development, 2.3 (2010): 289-317. Print.

Liu, Ying, Yu-An Huang and Lin Chad. “Organizational Factors’ Effects on the Success of E-Learning Systems and Organizational Benefits: An Empirical Study in Taiwan.” International Journal of Management, 2.4 (2012). 1-23. Print.

Masie, Elphie. E-Learning: If we Build it, Will they Come? Alexandria, VA: The Masie Centre and ASTD, 2001. Print.

Masie, Elliot. E-learning: If we build it, Will they come? Alexandria, VA: The Masie Centre and ASTD Report, 2001. Print.

McIntosh, Don. E-Learning and Organizational Culture, Thousand Oaks, California: Sage, 2006. Print.

Normark, Richard and Cetindamar, David. “E-learning in a Competitive Firm Setting.” Innovations in Education & Teaching International, 42.4 (2005): 325-335. Print.

Seal, Eyal and Yesha Sivan. “Enterprise E-Learning Success Factors: An Analysis of Practitioners’ Perspective (with a Downturn Addendum).”Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning and Learning Objects, 2.2 (2009): 335-343. Print.

Servage, Luke. “Strategizing for Workplace E-Learning; Some Critical Considerations.” Journal of Workplace Learning, 17.5 (2005): 304-317. Print.

Venkatesh, Vitash et al. “User Acceptance of Information Technology: Toward a Unified View.” MIS Quarterly, 27.3 (2003): 425-478. Print.

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Kyler Wise studied at Georgia Institute of Technology, USA, with average GPA 3.19 out of 4.0.

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Wise, Kyler. "To What Extent Does the Success of E-learning Depend on a Change in Organizational Culture?" IvyPanda, 29 Dec. 2019,

1. Kyler Wise. "To What Extent Does the Success of E-learning Depend on a Change in Organizational Culture?" IvyPanda (blog), December 29, 2019.


Wise, Kyler. "To What Extent Does the Success of E-learning Depend on a Change in Organizational Culture?" IvyPanda (blog), December 29, 2019.


Wise, Kyler. 2019. "To What Extent Does the Success of E-learning Depend on a Change in Organizational Culture?" IvyPanda (blog), December 29, 2019.


Wise, K. (2019) 'To What Extent Does the Success of E-learning Depend on a Change in Organizational Culture?'. IvyPanda, 29 December.

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