Be Careful What You Wish For: The Learning Imperative in Postindustrial Work

Gonzalo Valdés, Stephen R. Barley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Learning at work is usually seen as beneficial for the professional and personal lives of workers. In this article, we propose that learning’s relationship to worker well-being may be more complicated. We posit that learning can become a burden (instead of always being a benefit) in occupations that are learning intensive and tightly associated with the postindustrial economy. Results of analyses using data from the General Social Survey suggest that learning lessens work–family conflict by increasing job satisfaction, but at the same time, learning makes work–family conflict worse by leading people to work longer hours and exacerbating work-related stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466-501
Number of pages36
JournalWork and Occupations
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • job demands-resources model
  • knowledge work
  • learning in the workplace
  • stress of higher status
  • work–family conflict

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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