Presentation Details

The Fourth International Conference on Knowledge, Culture and Change in Organisations

The Impact of Action Learning on Building Reflective Practice in Low to Mid Level Workers

Vivienne Blake.

The concept of a learning organisation has captured the attention of managers and theorists for the last three decades. This interest has its genesis in the need for organisations to be flexible and responsive to thrive in conditions of turbulent change and tough competition. Learning organisations are difficult to define and more difficult to create. However, any organisation which harnesses the creativity and learning ability of its staff increases its ability to be responsive in a competitive and fast changing business environment. One approach which is closely allied to the learning organisation concept, is action learning. It is a practical and effective approach that can be used to encourage creativity and learning in staff. However, the creativity of workers at all levels needs to be harnessed if an organisation is to transform and grow. Traditionally action learning has been focused at the managerial level. It has seldom been directed to low and mid level staff, who play a key role in core organisational processes, such as client service.

The objective of this study was to determine if action learning could be linked with client service improvement to create a ‘learning organisation’ approach to service provision. More specifically, it set out to examine if action learning could build reflective practice in low and mid level workers. The study concluded that that action learning encouraged reflective practice in these workers, which lead to improved service provision. Another outcome was increased self-confidence, and enthusiasm for learning. In addition there was evidence that participants gained of a deeper understanding about how their learning could be applied in other contexts to engender change.


Vivienne Blake  (Australia)
Lecturer in Higher Education
Organisational and Staff Development Services
University of Western Australia

Vivienne Blake has been a human resources practitioner for 20 years, with experience in government, industry and the university sector. Her interests are in staff and organisational development and learning.

  • Learning organisation
  • Action learning
  • Organisational learning
  • Knowledge management

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)