Literature Synthesis: Comparing Action Learning And Critical Action Learning

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Literature Synthesis - contrasting action learning with critical action learning Introduction Although the founder of action learning Revans (1981) did not give a definition of action learning, from the way he described it and applied it across a number of organizations, Pedler (1997) defines action learning as a process whereby a group of individuals drawn from different situations and confronted with individual problems meet together regularly to help each other learn by sharing their experiences. According to Vince (2008) the concept of ‘critical action learning’ was a crafted by Willmott (1994) in which he sought to illustrate the application of critical thinking to learning. Action Learning (AL) vs Critical Action Learning (CAL) In his…show more content…
Attention is emphasized on the way learning is affected by the existing power and diversity relations. Rigg and Trehan (2004) argues that CAL is able to engage participants who are drawn from different perspectives to reflect between their learning and work experiences and as to change interpersonal and organizational practices. From a critical point of view, Willmott (1994 pp. 116) emphasizes the importance of reflection and learning in transforming “control into emancipation”. To this end, critical action learning becomes a process of reflection on the adequacy and value of programmed organizational knowledge. According to Trehan and Pedler (2009), critical action learning does not only address problems belonging only to individuals within the organization, but it also addresses the way those individuals organize and how this affect their opportunities for learning. One area where AL fails is when the person with the problem is the real expert on the problem. Such person may agree and take note of the advice of AL set members and not necessarily follow up on the advice. This condition simply allows the “espoused theory and theory in use” to cohabit, a case known in psychology as cognitive dissonance (Argyris an,Schon (1974). As a result they don’t learn anything from following the advice since the objective of Action Learning is taking action and learning at the same time. Therefore unless AL members get to realize on their own what their problem is, there is little learning to be accomplished by that member. In 2006, I was part of the restructuring committee for our company. One evident thing in most of our deliberations was the attempt by most of those involved to safeguard

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