Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Andrew Sense the author of this book has dual credentials as both a past project manager in Australian manufacturing industry and as an academic with a specific research interest in project learning and management. This text represents rigorous and recent case study research and data involving a large “blue collar” traditional steel manufacturing company in the Asian region. The Foreword to the book suggest that it will be of interest to academics who seek to explore research findings based on a real practical example, and to practitioners who find value and substance in relating reflection to real experience.
The author states “By dual coverage of the conceptual and pragmatic aspects of learning within a project environment, it is my hope that through your reading you too will better understand learning within project settings.”
The text is divided into seven chapters. Chapter 1 sets the scene on project‐based learning and establishes the structure of the book. Chapters 2 and 3 identify and explore the key conceptual frameworks that shaped the research, namely conceptualizing learning within a project and sociological learning within a project.
Chapters 4, 5 and 6 highlight key empirical findings from research. The outcome of these is to establish the author's five‐fold model of constraining/enabling elements namely: cognitive style; learning relationships and pyramid of authority; knowledge management and situational context.
Chapter 7 summarizes and stitches together key findings and issues as regards situated learning and highlights practice and further research under the title The Project Learning Opportunity – Where to Now? Included within this chapter are a useful set of 20 questions designed to stimulate further reflection and potential action on project learning attitudes and activities.
Emphasis is made throughout the book of the fact that learning within projects should be an intentional outcome built into project action in a systematic fashion. In this respect project management must consider utilizing the project as a learning vehicle which motivates the project team to learn. In turn this necessitates each individual to consciously become a learner as well as a task achiever within the project. The text also makes links to the concepts and contexts of the learning organization, organizational learning and workplace learning.
A main feature of the book is that while reference is made to theory in terms of how individuals and organizations learn, the reader benefits from understanding the project as it progresses, through the medium of research. As a consequence, parts of the text utilize reflection of how the project team lived the project experience and the real challenges and learning for them.
The layout of the text is mainly narrative, punctuated by a few diagrams and as such is a rather intense reading experience. Summaries to chapters are therefore very helpful.
The References contained at the end of the book are up to date and thorough in their content. The back cover comment on the book observes that this is new research into an under‐explored topic. For those seriously interested in expanding their knowledge of another element of work‐based learning, the book represents a valuable resource, which although not cheap in price is extremely thorough in terms of content.