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Critical reflection in the workplace: is it just too difficult?

Clare Rigg (Institute of Technology Tralee, Tralee, Ireland)
Kiran Trehan (School of Management, University of Lancaster, Lancaster, UK)

Journal of European Industrial Training

ISSN: 0309-0590

Article publication date: 6 June 2008




The intentions of this article are to contribute reflections of an empirical account of working with critical reflection within an organisational development programme, addressing the following questions: What space is there for critical reflection in organisational development? What issues are raised for in‐company developers and providers by advocating critical reflection in organisation practice?


A case study approach is taken, presenting an empirical account of a management and organisational development programme that integrated action learning and critical reflection.


The account illustrates difficulties of employing critical reflection within the workplace arising from the more complex power relations between the multiple stakeholders in a commercial context. In particular, dissonance provoked by critical reflection confronts the client with a tension over whether to see organisation members primarily as customers to please or as participants in a change process which inevitably will disrupt.

Practical implications

In making sense of the perspectives of different stakeholders a model is presented to help practitioners in development of this kind to anticipate potential issues.


The paper presents a rare account of employing critical reflection in a work organisation development programme.



Rigg, C. and Trehan, K. (2008), "Critical reflection in the workplace: is it just too difficult?", Journal of European Industrial Training, Vol. 32 No. 5, pp. 374-384.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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