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Intervention as workplace learning

Bente Elkjaer (Aarhus University, Copenhagen, Denmark)
Niels Christian Mossfeldt Nickelsen (Aarhus University, Copenhagen, Denmark)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 11 July 2016




The purpose of this paper is to illustrate how workplace interventions may benefit from a simultaneous focus on individuals’ learning and knowledge and on the situatedness of workplaces in the wider world of changing professional knowledge regimes. This is illustrated by the demand for evidence-based practice in health care.


The paper is based on a case study in a public post-natal ward in a hospital in Denmark in which one of the authors acted as both a consultant initiating and leading interventions and a researcher using ethnographic methods. The guiding question was: How to incorporate the dynamics of the workplace when doing intervention in professionals’ work and learning?


The findings of the paper show how workplace interventions consist of heterogeneous alliances between politics, discourse and technologies rather than something that can be traced back to a single plan or agency. Furthermore, the paper proposes, a road down the middle, made up by both an intentional and a performative model for intervention.


Intervention in workplaces is often directed towards changing humans, their behaviour, their ways of communicating and their attitudes. This is often furthered through reflection, making the success of intervention depend on individuals’ abilities to learn and change. In this paper, it is shown how intervention may benefit from bringing in workplace issues like different professional knowledge regimes, hierarchical structures, materiality, politics and power.



Elkjaer, B. and Nickelsen, N.C.M. (2016), "Intervention as workplace learning", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 28 No. 5, pp. 266-279.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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