Informal learning and career identity formation: The mediating role of work engagement
School of Business and Law
Purpose: The aim of the study is to extend prior research on career identity formation by investigating whether individuals' participation in informal workplace learning activities positively relates to career identity. The study also examines whether work engagement significantly mediates the participation in informal learning and career identity relationship. Design/methodology/approach: Using data from a survey of 313 individuals in Iran, the study developed and tested measurement and structural models and employed partial least squares structural equation modelling to test the hypotheses. Findings: The findings suggest that work engagement substantially mediates the positive relationship between participation in informal learning and career identity. Furthermore, the learning potential of the workplace and the propensities of individuals to actively approach situations that provide them with opportunities to learn and seek feedback on their performance have positive although varying relations with levels of participation in informal learning. Practical implications: Human resource management and career management specialists must be cognisant of the central role that employee participation in informal learning plays in strengthening their work engagement and career identity. Learning and development specialists should seek to create conditions in the work environment that are favourable to informal learning and work engagement. Originality/value: Although the role of formal development programmes in career identity formation is well documented, studies that examine links between participation in informal learning activities and career identity are very rare. Furthermore, there are no known studies that examine the potential mediating role of work engagement in the relationship between participation in informal learning activities and career identity.