Volume 9, 2021: Issue 1

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A novel taxonomy of organizational learning contextual factors: Review of 2004–2020 top-ranked journals


Sara Scipioni, University of Pisa, Italy


As a dynamic phenomenon that interacts across different levels – individual, group, organizational, interorganizational – the development of a unique multilevel theory of Organizational Learning (OL) is absent and challenging. The intent of this paper is to contribute to the advancement of such a theory. In this context, a systematic review of the 2004-2020 literature was carried out, with analysis of 120 papers selected from management and organization science top-ranked journals. Based on the conceptualization of OL as multiple processes of knowledge creation, transfer, and retention, the reviewed papers highlight that internal and external environments, organizational culture, strategy, structure, leadership, technology, and shared environments need to be considered for a comprehensive understanding of vertical trickle-down OL processes, and of bottom-up emerging OL processes, in both single and multi-level OL analyses. This study contributes to the theory of OL with the presentation of a novel taxonomy of contextual factors that could help researchers in the development of comprehensive OL studies. The implications offered should support the definition of a multilevel theory for OL that embraces all the relevant factors that influence its processes across the different organizational levels. The review closes with specific recommendations for further studies in OL.


Organizational learning, contextual factors, multilevel theory, systematic review, knowledge management; organization science




Research paper


The Online Journal of Applied Knowledge Management (OJAKM), ISSN: 2325-4688


International Institute for Applied Knowledge Management (IIAKM)


8 September 2020


26 February 2021; 17 March 2021


1 June 2021

Accepting Editor:

Yair Levy