The training industry remains in flux, adapting to meet the ever-evolving needs of learners and organizations in our increasingly interdependent global society. Traditional training methods no longer meet these shifting demands and a new strategy must be employed in order to optimize design, delivery and assessment of programs. Ecosystem thinking provides a potentially viable path through the complex training industry, emphasizing the interdependencies of various components and stakeholders. However, empirical research on the design, launch, scaling and interactions among key players of training ecosystems remains limited. This master's thesis attempts to close that research gap by exploring ecosystem thinking within the training industry.
This thesis's primary research question includes:
- How can the various key components of a training ecosystem take advantage of one another, and which activities must be created in order to fulfil their individual goals and needs?
To address these queries, a systematic literature review was undertaken, drawing from top management journals like Strategic Management Journal, Journal of Management, and Academy of Management Journal. Starting from a more generic research on ecosystem, this literature review the identified key components of a training ecosystem such as learners, trainers, content providers and technology platforms as well as activities which may help address their individual needs and goals.
Additionally, this thesis builds the case study of Ecosistema Formazione Italia (EFI), an Italian training ecosystem. EFI is a non-profit association dedicated to supporting Italy's training provider landscape. EFI provides an environment in which training providers from across Italy can connect, providing synergies and business opportunities between trainers, training firms, learning & development professionals, startups and suppliers alike; encouraging networking across training providers while creating access to materials curated specifically by EFI members for training events and materials curated specifically by EFI itself. Established by members of the Wyblo team (EdTech startup led by its CEO and author of this thesis, Kevin Giorgis, together with Stefano Marchese, Madeleine Prothero, Cesare Gamberi e Vito Mannina) who saw that success within Italy requires both innovation and collaboration within their training industry environment - EFI has now created such an ecosystem within Italy's training landscape.
This study's findings are drawn from an online survey with 90 responses. Respondents included individuals and organizations, most commonly freelancers, consultants, training consultants, training firms, startups, accelerators, associations, and university members. EFI members' primary goals and needs included creating new collaborations to expand their business, staying informed on trends within the training industry by attending webinars panel discussions webinars or panel discussions, increasing visibility locally by attending webinars or panel discussions, becoming more visible locally through expanding visibility or finding more clients.
EFI members expect their association to facilitate networking and collaboration, promote professional development and growth, share experiences and ideas freely and foster the growth of the education sector as a whole. By exploring Ecosistema Formazione Italia specifically this thesis seeks to gain important insights into professional networks' roles in aiding training industries worldwide. Building upon its findings, this thesis proposes activities which could benefit ecosystem members as well as discusses the implications of this study for training professionals, educators and researchers.
Overall, this master's thesis contributes to the knowledge and application of ecosystem thinking in the training industry by investigating its potential benefits and activities for key components of training ecosystems. By answering research questions posed to Ecosistema Formazione Italia case study as well as investigating key component activities, this thesis offers invaluable insight into creating more efficient training ecosystems which meet stakeholders' needs more efficiently and deliver greater benefits in terms of effectiveness, collaboration and innovation.
Finalizing its thesis, this research also proposes potential future directions of both research and practice for applying ecosystem thinking to training industries. Future studies should assess its effects on learner outcomes as well as create an eco-based training framework and identify barriers that prevent its application to real settings.
ChatGPT was utilized constructively and creatively as a brainstorming tool for the initial structure of the thesis and shortlisting of articles and journals to be considered. Yet the thesis was written independently as allowed by the HSG Dean of Studies.