Unison, workplace learning and enhancing learning network theory : a case study

Gibbs, Elizabeth Stephanie (2010). Unison, workplace learning and enhancing learning network theory : a case study. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000d3d5


Following a review of the UK's long term skill requirements in 2006 (Leitch 2006), the government has been looking at ways to increase the UK's skills base through employer engagement in training and education. Trade unions and higher education institutions have had a vital role in this process through the establishment of a wide variety of collaborative projects aimed at enhancing basic, intermediate and higher skills. One example of such a partnership is the Learning Partnership Route (LPR) to Social Work qualification. Whilst a number of authors have detailed the role of trade unions in work-based learning partnerships with public sector organisations, including in social care (see, for example, Sutherland and Rainbird 2000), there is a shortage of academic literature relating specifically to UNISON's role in informal learning in these organisations.

This research study uses a case study method applying a critical realist approach, to look in depth at one social care organisation in which the LPR was run. The key theory utilised for data analysis is the Learning Network Theory (LNT) (Poell et al 2000). The LNT is one theory which has been put forward to describe organisational learning in the literature and uses the actors, structures and processes to interpret and describe how learning is organised.

The case study findings revealed how Unison's trusting relationship with the social care employer and their coherent notion of the concept of a learning organisation, enabled them to become involved in both formal and informal aspects of workplace learning. Evidence is also presented to critique and enhance the LNT, extending the LNT to incorporate the concepts of formal and informal learning.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions