Successful competence development for retail professionals: investigation of key mechanisms in informal learning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – Competence development is a prerequisite for successfully meeting existing and future challenges in the retail sector. However, current human resource development practices are often limited in their scope and offerings. This study sets out to investigate and bring to light informal learning among retail professionals.

Design/methodology/approach – This research consists of two exploratory studies focused on store managers and procurement officers respectively. Based on a typology of learning mechanisms, we conducted eleven in-depth interviews, generating a rich body of empirical data centred on how informal learning takes place at work.

Findings – The research points out key learning mechanisms for each occupation and offers detailed narratives of how they are embedded in everyday learning. In addition, the findings provide a synthesis of the complex nature of learning mechanisms and their variations in form and orientation.

Practical implications – By generating tangible and explicit knowledge on the topic of informal learning, the results contribute to both professionals, who may actively engage in useful learning mechanisms, and managers, who may develop processes and structures based on key learning mechanisms.

Originality/value – This paper helps to demystify the tacit and often unnoticed learning that takes place at work. In doing so, it broadens the perspective on competence development and facilitates future discussions of human resource development practices in the retail industry and the research community.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-46
JournalInternational Journal of Retail & Distribution Management
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Pedagogy
  • Business Administration


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