featured articles: informal education, lifelong learning and social action


A set of pages exploring different models of leadership and the theory and practice of developing learning in organizations
contents: leadership
 organizational learning
 the learning organization
beyond the learning organization
booklists and resources
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classical models of leardership. What is leadership? Here we explore some of the classical models of leadership. In particular we look at earlier approaches to studying the area via the notions of traits and behaviours, and to what has become known as contingency theory. From there we turn to more recent, ‘transformational’ theories. 

shared leadership. Leadership can be explored as a social process - something that happens between people. It is not so much what leaders do, as something that arises out of social relationships. As such it does not depend on one person, but on how people act together to make sense of the situations that face them. It is happening all the time. Michele Erina Doyle and Mark K. Smith explore the notion of shared leadership.

discussion point

‘leadership and spirituality…minus the loaves and fishes’. When you hear the word Leadership you may find yourself bombarded with images of the likes of Shackleton or Hunt battling against the odds, men of great achievements and, undoubtedly, great examples of good leadership. However, is this what we mean by leadership in today’s society? Is leadership meant only for those on adventurous endeavours? Mick Wood suggests otherwise.


learning. What is learning? Is it a process or a product? How might it be approached?

Four different orientations to theorizing learning:

the behaviourist orientation. The behaviourist movement in psychology has looked to the use of experimental procedures to study behaviour in relation to the environment. 

the cognitive orientation. Where behaviourists looked to the environment, those drawing on Gestalt turned to the individual's mental processes. In other words, they were concerned with cognition - the act or process of knowing.

the humanist orientation. In this orientation the basic concern is for human growth. We look to the work of Maslow and Rogers as expressions of this approach.

the social/situational orientation. It is not so much that learners acquire structures or models to understand the world, but they participate in frameworks that that have structure. Learning involves participation in a community of practice.

organizational learning

organizational learning. In recent years there has been a lot of talk of 'organizational learning'. Here we explore the theory and practice of such learning. We examine some key theorists and themes, and ask whether organizations can learn?

Some key dimensions:

theories of action, double-loop learning and organizational learning. The work of Chris Argyris (1923-) has influenced thinking about the relationship of people and organizations, organizational learning and action research. Here we examine some key aspects of his thinking.

david a. kolb on experiential learning. What is experiential learning? How does it relate to organizational life?

informal learning. All of a sudden a number of researchers and policy pundits have rediscovered ‘informal learning’. But is there really such a thing?

the learning organization

the learning organization. Since the publication of Peter Senge's 'The Fifth Discipline' there has been a lot of talk of the learning organization. But what actually is it? Is it anything more than rhetoric? Can it be realized?

donald schön: learning, reflection and change.  Donald Schon made a remarkable contribution to our understanding of the theory and practice of learning. His innovative thinking around notions such as  ‘the learning society’ and businesses as learning system, plus his work on ‘double-loop learning’ and ‘reflection-in-action’ have been crucial to the development of the notion of the learning organization. We explore his work and some of the key themes that emerge. What assessment can we make now? 

peter senge on the learning organization. Peter Senge’s vision of a learning organization as a group of people who are continually enhancing their capabilities to create what they want to create has been deeply influential. We discuss the five disciplines he sees as central to learning organizations and some issues and questions concerning the theory and practice of learning organizations.

dialogue. Dialogue is a key aspect of Senge's and others vision of the learning organization. But what actually is dialogue? And what can we learn from philosophers like Gadamer and  educationalists like Freire

discussion point

The spirit of Dialogue is one of free play, a sort of collective dance of the mind that, nevertheless, has immense power and reveals coherent purpose. Once begun it becomes continuing adventure that can open the way to significant and creative change.

dialogue - a proposal. David Bohm et. al. explore the nature of Dialogue and its place in organizations.

beyond the learning organization

social capital. The notion of social capital is a useful way of entering into debates about civil society – and it is central to the arguments of Robert Putnam and others who want to ‘reclaim public life’. We examine it's nature - and some of the issues surrounding its use.