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The impact of training in companies

Next generation work

The impact of training in companies

Why and how do employees succeed in transferring learned social skills (soft skills) from the training to the workplace?

Type project ESF project call 443 – Training in companies
Project partners UCL, Universiteit Leiden, KU Leuven
Duration January 01, 2018 - December 12, 2020
Contact person Bart Cambré, PhD

With the financial support provided by the European Social Fund.


This study investigated factors and processes driving training transfer effectiveness in Flemish firms. It builds on 50 cases:

  • 15 successful cases in which social skills (leadership and stress management) were transferred;
  • 35 failed cases where training transfer effectiveness has not (yet) been achieved.

In order to better understand the process of training transfer, we took a more in-depth look at four cases where different mechanisms played a key role in transfer effectiveness. Having a clear view on what causes training transfer and how it causes training transfer assisted in designing more effective learning and development policies.

ESF project opleidingen bedrijven

During our research, we found that no single condition was required (necessary) for successful training transfer. Rather, several combinations of conditions were sufficient for success, meaning that whenever these pathways were present, the training content was successfully retained and applied to the workplace. We differentiate between causal conditions that could trigger training transfer and contextual conditions that, simply put, allow these transfers to happen. The condition that was most often present in successful training transfer was the contextual condition of training program as an active learning method.

Most important takeaways

  • Understand that ‘mandatory trainings’ are not effective. Organizations need to focus on making the relevance of training visible to employees.
  • Pay attention to the implementation of meetings between peers during and after training.
  • Transferability of training depends on what the organization offers to make it possible.

In this study we applied a multi method design. We used qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) to analyze the cases and determine which (combination of) factors are associated with the outcome. QCA is a suitable and innovative comparative method, which allows for complexity of causality. This means, for instance, that numerous pathways can lead to the same outcome, as has been found in our research.

We also used process-tracing methods to study the causal mechanisms that link the conditions or factors and the outcome in a productive manner.

Download the final report

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Bart cambre

A question about this project?

Bart Cambré, PhD

Phone: +32 486 980 452

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