Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to propose an integrated model of action learning based on an examination of four reviewed action learning models, definitions, and espoused outcomes. Design/methodology/approach – A clear articulation of the strengths and limitations of each model was essential to developing an integrated model, which could be applied to Lynham's general method of theory‐building research in applied disciplines. The paper examined common themes according to the model structure, methods, and methodologies. The four models selected for this review were Gregory's Group Action Learning Process Model, Paton's Systemic Action Learning Cycle, Paton's Systemic Action Learning Spiral, and Watkins and Marsick's Continuous Learning Model. Findings – A comparison of the key variations in the definitions of action learning and desired outcomes explained differences in model designs. HRD practitioners need a better understanding of the variables that affect the outcomes of action learning through exploring learning transfer issues and through testing multiple methodologies. Similarly, the integrated model was designed to indicate how change takes place within an organization, dictated by either internal or external factors. A description of the construction of the integrated model is provided. Research limitations/implications – Owing to the disconnect between the conceptual development and application phases of theory‐building research, more empirical evidence is needed to support the connection between action learning models and methodologies and desired outcomes. The integrated model was designed from a systems perspective with particular emphasis on soft systems in the problem and analysis phases to illustrate the role of organizational modeling of the relationships among members, processes, and the internal and external environment. HRD practitioners could re‐examine their decision making, particularly in approaching large‐scale change. HRD practitioners could document their specific approaches to action learning, including a combination of action research methods and soft systems methodologies. A comparison of outcomes versus the methodologies could be made. Originality/value – The objective of the integrated action learning model is to improve decision making related to facilitating change from an HRD perspective, given the theories and principles underlying each model. The integrated model could serve as the basis for gaining new knowledge about critical systems theory and action research as it relates to action learning and change facilitation. It is the paper's intent that the proposed integrated model will spur further theory‐building research in employing action learning as an organizational change intervention.
Journal of European Industrial Training – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 31, 2010
Keywords: Action learning; Modelling; Knowledge management
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