Original Research

Organisational learning capabilities as determinants of social innovation: An empirical study in South Africa

Boris Urban, Elena Gaffurini
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 15 | a857 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v15i0.857 | © 2017 Boris Urban, Elena Gaffurini | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 September 2016 | Published: 13 April 2017

About the author(s)

Boris Urban, Graduate School of Business Administration, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Elena Gaffurini, Graduate School of Business Administration, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa


Orientation: A critical reading of the human resource management (HRM) literature finds limited contributions to understanding the organisational determinants of social enterprises and how these may contribute to higher levels of social innovativeness. Although innovation is a key theme in organisational research it has been acknowledged that the field needs more theory-based examinations of different types of innovativeness.

Research purpose: To determine how different organisational capabilities are related to social innovation.

Motivation for the study: Many social enterprises in developing countries do not have the requisite capabilities to efficiently manage all their programmes, which presents a major threat to organisational sustainability.

Research design, approach and method: The empirical analysis is a cross-sectional study based on primary survey data. Hypotheses are tested using correlational and regression analysis.

Main findings: The results show that the organisational learning capabilities of knowledge conversion, risk management, organisational dialogue and participative decision-making all have a significant and positive relationship with social innovation.

Practical/managerial implications: Managers and practitioners can leverage the different organisational learning capabilities to improve social innovations in their social enterprises.

Contribution/value-add: The study is one of the first in an African market context to empirically investigate social enterprises in terms of social innovation and organisational learning perspectives.


organisational; learning capabilities; social enterprises; social innovation; South Africa


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Crossref Citations

1. A Model of Knowledge-sharing for the 21st Century Organizations
Sabino Ayestarán, Daniel Gómez, Edurne Martínez-Moreno, Eva Mª Lira, Silvia Da Costa
Revista de Psicología del Trabajo y de las Organizaciones  vol: 38  issue: 3  first page: 175  year: 2022  
doi: 10.5093/jwop2022a21