Action Learning and Related Modalities

Joseph A. Raelin
  • SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.4135/9780857021038.n22

What is it about?

In this chapter, I hope to first locate action learning within the range of prevailing “action modalities” in management development that conceive of practice as having its own epistemology. They all more or less emphasize the value of concurrent reflection on experience to expand and create new knowledge while improving practice itself. I will then succinctly describe action learning both in theory and practice, highlighting and illustrating its prospective outcomes, its project orientation, and its reliance on learning teams. Next, I will survey other selected action modalities, namely: action research, action science, developmental action inquiry, and cooperative inquiry. In the last sections, I will take up two emerging topics, the emergence of critical theory within the action dimension, which bounds action learning’s humanistic aspirations, and the challenge to these approaches of their not yet having widespread adoption in the field.

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