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Title: How senior executives learn and apply that learning to their practices
Author: Cooper, Robert
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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Learning and applying learning are considered to be vital activities for the success of senior executives in their jobs and, in turn, for the success of the organisations they lead. That connection between learning, applying learning, and personal and organisational effectiveness has been posited by observers and supported by research. However, few studies have closely examined the specific ways in which senior executives learn and apply their learning. This study was conducted through qualitative analysis of interviews with 24 experienced senior executives from three broad fields. Eight of the interviewees were from educational institutions, eight were from publicly-traded for-profit companies and eight were from private for-profit enterprises. Thirteen were men and 11 women. All had at least five years of experience at a senior organisational level. Twenty-one of the participating senior executives were interviewed once, and three of them-one from each of the three fields-were interviewed twice, with the second interview taking place at least six months after the initial interview. Twenty ways in which more than half of the senior executives reported that they learn were identified, and those were placed into four primary categories. Three of those primary categories-learning from experience, from reflection, and from guidance by others-were supported by a fourth category of practices and attitudes that prompted and furthered their learning. Eleven ways in which more than half of the senior executives reported that they applied learning were identified, and those were also placed into four primary categories: to advance the organisation's effectiveness, to create constructive change, to support the growth and success of others, and to personally improve. The findings are presented and discussed in the context of expectations in the research and theoretical literature regarding learning and application of learning by executives, and suggested subjects for further study are presented.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available