Swimming Against the Current: Understanding How a Positive Organisational Training Climate Can Enhance Training Participation and Transfer in the Public Sector

Martin McCracken, Travor Brown, Paula O'Kane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – This paper aims to examine the personal and organisational factors that affected public sector managers' participation in leadership training programmes and their ability to transfer learning to their workplace. Design/methodology/approach – In-depth interviews were conducted with five Canadian and five Northern Irish managers who participated in one-day leadership training programmes. Findings – The uncertain environment throughout the public sector was the greatest inhibitor to training participation and transfer. However, other training characteristics and training design features were also noted (e.g. motivation, trainer influence). Practical implications – Public sector organisations must take concrete steps to address current environmental challenges to fully benefit from leadership training programmes. The paper highlights pre-, during, and post-training strategies that can be implemented. Originality/value – The findings illustrate that leaders in both public sector jurisdictions face similar issues and these have been exacerbated by the current turbulent climate. The authors suggest that to maximise return on training investment the public sector must create an environment supportive of training participation and transfer and suggest recommendations to help organisations in the future. These findings were facilitated by the use of qualitative training evaluation methods, not traditionally used in training transfer research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-316
JournalInternational Journal of Public Sector Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Oct 2012

Bibliographical note

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About the authors
Martin McCracken is a Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour at the Business and Management
Research Institute and Department of Management and Leadership, University of Ulster,
Northern Ireland. Martin McCracken is the corresponding author and can be contacted at:
Travor C. Brown is full Professor of Labour Relations and Human Resource Management and
Director of the Masters of Employment Relation Program in the Faculty of Business and Masters
of Employment Relations Program, Memorial University, Canada.
Paula O’Kane is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Management, University of Otago,
New Zealand.


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