The Theoretical Implications of Linking Social Learning and Performance

Traditional learning theory is based on individual learning from the teacher-centered perspective (Wenger, 1998). In an individual and teacher-centered paradigm, there is a foundational reliance on a top-down approach to instructional design. However, no individual learns only from a teacher, instructor, or coach. Wenger (1998) argues that a social theory of learning works because human beings are social by nature and learn through participating in groups pursuing a specific and common practice. Although Wenger (1998) states that a social learning theory does not replace traditional learning theory, there are implications that by testing the theory using technology designed to enhance social interactions and participation (an Enterprise Social Network, for example), that even more weight could be given to social learning as a means by which organizations could develop new employees.

Two main assumptions of a social theory of learning are that people are social beings and that knowing is a matter of participating in the pursuit of a specific practice (Wenger, 1998). My research study intends to extend these assumptions from a link between participation and knowing to studying the relationship between participation and performance. The theoretical implications are that my study could provide a link between a social theory of learning (an informal learning process) and performance (sales results).


Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge, U.K: Cambridge University Press.