Learning in an age of cuts: managers as enablers of workplace learning

Russell P. Warhurst (Chester Business School, University of Chester, Chester, UK)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Publication date: 4 January 2013



The goal of this exploratory empirical article is to analyse managers' beliefs about learning and their reports of enabling workplace learning for both individuals and teams. It aims to discuss the managers' rationales for prioritising development, detail the learning methods used and evaluate the types of outcomes which were targeted.


A qualitative, case‐study research design was adopted using two embedded units of analysis (local government administrations) and data were derived from photo‐elicitation interviews.


The diverse learning interventions that were reported are detailed and analysed in terms of learning for individuals and for groups and in terms of replicative and expansive learning outcomes.

Research limitations/implication

The research was limited to manager respondents and to their reported developmental intentions, therefore implications for extending the research are proposed.

Practical implications

The need for enhancing managers' awareness of their beliefs about learning and their capabilities for engendering non‐formal learning through work practices is discussed.


The article demonstrates that a broader range of methodologies were reportedly used by managers in enabling staff learning than has previously been shown. Moreover, that learning interventions were widely reported in a context of cuts and change questions the prevailing orthodoxy that development is sacrificed in times of cutbacks.



Warhurst, R. (2013), "Learning in an age of cuts: managers as enablers of workplace learning", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 37-57. https://doi.org/10.1108/13665621311288476

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