Does Action Learning Promote Collaborative Leadership?

Joe Raelin
  • Academy of Management Learning and Education, June 2006, The Academy of Management
  • DOI: 10.5465/amle.2006.21253780

What is it about?

Evolving from action research are two of the most popular action technologies or strategies in use today, action learning and action science. Action learning, most practiced in Europe and first associated with the work of Reg Revans, is based on the straightforward pedagogical notion that people learn most effectively when working on real-time problems occurring in their own work setting. Action science, most practiced in the United States and associated with the work of Chris Argyris, is an intervention method based on the idea that people can improve their interpersonal and organizational effectiveness by exploring the hidden beliefs that drive their actions. The purpose of this article is to distinguish these two technologies in a way that will assist those organization development practitioners who may serve as facilitators in both. Readers who are unfamiliar with either technology may consult the sidebars, pages 22 and 23, for an overview. After reviewing their foundational similarities, we will consider the principal differences between the two methods and address some of the advantages and risks associated with each. Readers who serve as facilitators might wish to reflect on their intervention styles to determine if they have leanings toward one technology over the other. If they are capable of using both, they are invited to consider whether they should be using them sequentially or simultaneously.

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