Conversational Moves That Matter: Bridging Learning Outcomes and Patterns of Speech in Informal Cross-Organizational Conversations Among Top-Level Leaders

Cross-organizational “learning conversations” are an important source of informal learning among professionals, though little is known about whether specific characteristics of conversational interaction contribute to different learning outcomes in such conversations. This mixed-methods study examined the relationship between what (learning outcomes) and from what (specific conversational contributions) 79 executives from 22 organizations reported they learned from informal, peer-led conversations. Findings suggest that (1) there are unique associations between different types of reported learning outcomes and specific types of conversational contributions that are controversial, narrative, and inquiry in nature and (2) higher and/or lower proportions of certain conversational moves may support particular types of learning outcomes. We conclude with a discussion of findings and how they can support developing more nuanced taxonomies of effective discourse for informal learning, and identify areas for future research.

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