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Title: Critical action learning : an examination of the social nature of management learning and development
Author: Anderson, Lisa Marie
ISNI:       0000 0001 3422 1141
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2008
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The debate surrounding the nature and purpose of management education in the UK's business schools is inextricably entwined with the notion of management as a profession and the nature of management knowledge. Universities have traditionally been viewed as being at the cutting e'dge of the creation of knowledge about management and of being the ideal site for the education of managers. However, there is a growing disquiet about the relationship between management knowledge and practice and the ability of business schools to develop managers of the calibre needed by the UK to compete internationally. Whilst acknowledging that the nature of management knowledge and the political forces which shape its creation are important in this debate, the emphasis here is on how managers learn. Action learning has long been held up as the answer to the lack of a critically reflective element in management education yet there is little evidence to show that it has fulfilled its promise. The nature of Critical or critical management education is considered and the utility of Critical Management pedagogy is questioned. There are few accounts of action learning being used in higher education and a confusing range of descriptions of what action learning is. Therefore, a large-scale action learning project in the Small and Medium Sized Enterprise sector was chosen as the site of study. Data are reported and analysed from participant observation at eight action learning set meetings, 21 individual interviews and 19 learning journals. Whilst the initial intention was to use discourse analysis, this was abandoned as the power of 'words in their speaking' became apparent as a mediator of critical reflection both in the Action learning set and in the interviews. An updated framework for conceptualizing learning is offered which describes various levels of learning. However, the model proposed here is much more explicit about the nature of reflection or reflexivity at each level, exemplifying particularly how critical reflection is at the core of higher level learning. Social constructionist approaches to learning, including action learning, are proposed as a philosophical underpinning for management education:and as synonymous with critical reflection. Blockages to the introduction of such a pedagogical philosophy in business schools include a lack of consideration given to teaching and learning and a continuing emphasis on research output as the direct route to secure funding for the school and promotion for oneself as an academic. There is an ongoing and urgent need to ignite this debate and to create accounts of best practice that may inspire thoughtful teaching and learning thus fulfilling our obligation as academics to the wider management community.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available