The possible impact of the organisation on the effectiveness of workplace learning

Palmer, Christina Louisa (2014). The possible impact of the organisation on the effectiveness of workplace learning. EdD thesis The Open University.



This thesis explores how dimensions of workplace learning are influenced by organisational practices and the features of organisations where workplace learning is perceived to be effective. Its particular focus is higher education workplace learning programmes that are tailored to meet organisational needs.

The thesis considers the literature that surrounds workplace learning and notes the breadth of definitions relating to it, including learning which is work related, learning which takes place within work or learning where the curriculum is devised around work. Key authors included in the conceptual framework are Billett (2000, 2001, 2004, 2006a, 2006b, 2008) in relation to affordances, Fuller and Unwin (2003, 2004, 2006) in relation to the expansiveness and restrictiveness of the organisation with regard to workplace learning and Eraut (2004, 2007) in relation to informal learning in the workplace. Literature examining the relationship between organisational and individual learning is also considered.

The research is qualitative in nature, a social constructionist approach having a predominant influence. Two case studies are used in the research project: a multinational logistics company and a regional public sector emergency service. Managers who were undertaking higher education workplace learning programmes and representatives within their employing organisations who commissioned workplace learning programmes participated in semi-structured interviews.

The findings of the research indicated that there are two major factors which impact on manager participants' perceptions of effective workplace learning:
1) Their experiences of workplace learning are closely linked to their perceptions of the time, autonomy and support they are afforded (or not) in order to engage in workplace learning activities.
2) For this particular group, effectiveness is also related to the level of synergy they feel exists between the workplace learning programme, the organisation and themselves.

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