Copyright 2003 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. 0021-9010/03/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.88.2.234
Effectiveness of Training in Organizations: A Meta-Analysis of Design and Evaluation Features Winfred Arthur Jr.
Texas A&M University
Winston Bennett Jr.
Air Force Research Laboratory
Pamela S. Edens and Suzanne T. Bell
Texas A&M University
The authors used meta-analytic procedures to examine the relationship between specified training design and evaluation features and the effectiveness of training in organizations. Results of the meta-analysis revealed training effectiveness sample-weighted mean ds of 0.60 (k 15, N 936) for reaction criteria, 0.63 (k 234, N 15,014) for learning criteria, 0.62 (k 122, N 15,627) for behavioral criteria, and 0.62 (k 26, N 1,748) for results criteria. These results suggest a medium to large effect size for organizational training. In addition, the training method used, the skill or task characteristic trained, and the choice of evaluation criteria were related to the effectiveness of training programs. Limitations of the study along with suggestions for future research are discussed.
The continued need for individual and organizational development can be traced to numerous demands, including maintaining superiority in the marketplace, enhancing employee skills and knowledge, and increasing productivity. Training is one of the most pervasive methods for enhancing the productivity of individuals and communicating organizational goals to new personnel. In 2000, U.S. organizations with 100 or more employees budgeted to spend $54 billion on formal training (“Industry Report,” 2000). Given the importance and potential impact of training on organizations and the costs associated with the development and implementation of training, it is important that both researchers and practitioners have a better understanding of the relationship between design and evaluation features and the effectiveness of training and development efforts. Meta-analysis quantitatively aggregates the results of primary studies to arrive at an overall conclusion or summary across these studies. In addition, meta-analysis makes it possible to assess relationships not investigated in the original primary studies. These, among others (see Arthur, Bennett, & Huffcutt, 2001), are some of the advantages of meta-analysis over narrative reviews. Although there have been a multitude of meta-analyses in other domains of industrial/organizational psychology (e.g., cognitive ability, employment interviews, assessment centers, and
employment-related personality testing) that now allow researchers to make broad summary statements about observable effects and relationships in these domains, summaries of the training effectiveness literature appear to be limited to the periodic narrative Annual Reviews. A notable exception is Burke and Day (1986), who, however, limited their meta-analysis to the effectiveness of only managerial training. Consequently, the goal of the present article is to address this gap in the training effectiveness literature by conducting a metaanalysis of the relationship between specified design and evaluation features and the effectiveness of training in organizations. We accomplish this goal by first identifying design and evaluation features related to the effectiveness of organizational training programs and interventions, focusing specifically on those features over which practitioners and researchers have a reasonable degree of control. We then discuss our use of meta-analytic procedures to quantify the effect of each feature and conclude with a discussion of the implications of our findings for both practitioners and researchers.
Overview of Design and Evaluation Features Related to the Effectiveness of Training Over the past 30 years, there have been six cumulative reviews of the training and development literature...