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Peer and informal learning among hospital doctors: An ethnographic study focused on routines, practices and relationships

Carlota Riera Claret (Faculty of Health Sciences at Manresa, University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia, Vic, Spain)
Miguel Ángel Sahagún (Faculty of Psychology, Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes, Mexico)
Clara Selva (Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 17 April 2020

Issue publication date: 28 April 2020




The purpose of this paper is to analyse everyday interactions in a workplace from the point of view of organisational learning, informal learning and peer learning, as well as the possible relationships that can be established between all three.


Insights from nine months of ethnographic study provided an operational definition of equality in an organisation, a better understanding of interactions and informal learning between peers, and about psycho-social determining factors or contexts that favour the exchange of knowledge in an organisation.


The findings demonstrate the importance of articulating the three elements (organisational learning, informal learning and peer learning) in a joint interpretative framework. With the results generated, it is proposed to move away from the traditional organisational learning based on knowledge and know-how, to a new perspective focused on sharing and participatory opportunities. In other words, without opportunities to participate, without the support and equal access, the fostering of informal learning can be debatable in terms of democracy.


The results bring the authors closer to being able to design workplace learning strategies that carefully includes the value of participation opportunities and the influence of a dynamic concept of equality. The ethnography in a hospital setting has allowed the authors to gain a better understanding of the contribution of informal learning to the organisation. The focus on the social context and the roles of relationships in informal learning offers new insights into a complex phenomenon.



Riera Claret, C., Sahagún, M.Á. and Selva, C. (2020), "Peer and informal learning among hospital doctors: An ethnographic study focused on routines, practices and relationships", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 32 No. 4, pp. 285-301.



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