Four essential dimensions of workplace learning

Nick Hopwood (University of Technology, Sydney, Sydney, Australia)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Publication date: 8 September 2014



This conceptual paper aims to argue that times, spaces, bodies and things constitute four essential dimensions of workplace learning. It examines how practices relate or hang together, taking Gherardi’s texture of practices or connectedness in action as the foundation for making visible essential but often overlooked dimensions of workplace learning.


This framework is located within and adds to contemporary sociomaterial- or practice-based approaches, in which learning is understood as an emergent requirement and product of ongoing practice that cannot be specified in advance.


The four dimensions are essential in two senses: they are the constitutive essence of textures of practices: what they are made of and they are non-optional; it is not possible to conceive a texture of practices without all of these dimensions present. Although the conceptual terrains to which they point overlap considerably, they remain useful as analytic points of departure. Each reveals something that is less clear in the others.

Research limitations/implications

This innovative framework responds to calls to better understand how practices hang together, and offers a toolkit that reflects the multifaceted nature of practice. It presents a distinctive basis for making sense of connectedness in action, and thus for understanding learning in work.


The paper offers a novel conceptual framework, expanding the texture of practices through dimensions of times, spaces, bodies and things, rendering visible aspects that might otherwise be ignored.



Hopwood, N. (2014), "Four essential dimensions of workplace learning", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 26 No. 6/7, pp. 349-363.

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