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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2003

Tara Fenwick

Innovation is argued here to be a significant and complex dimension of learning in work, involving a mix of rational, intuitive, emotional and social processes embedded in…

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2682

Abstract

Innovation is argued here to be a significant and complex dimension of learning in work, involving a mix of rational, intuitive, emotional and social processes embedded in activities of a particular community of practice. Dimensions of innovative learning are suggested to include level (individual, group, organization), rhythm (episodic or continuous), and magnitude of creative change (adaptive or generative) involved in the learning process. Drawing from a study of women who leave organizational employment to develop an enterprise of self‐employment, this article explores these dimensions of innovative learning. Two questions guide the analysis: what conditions foster innovative learning; and what are the forms and processes of the innovative learning process? Findings suggest that innovative processes involve multiple strategies and demand conditions of freedom, patience, support, and recognition.

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Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 15 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

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Article
Publication date: 2 August 2013

Tara Fenwick

Much research to date on professional transitions has focused on predicting them and then preparing individual practitioners to navigate transitions as sites of struggle…

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1994

Abstract

Purpose

Much research to date on professional transitions has focused on predicting them and then preparing individual practitioners to navigate transitions as sites of struggle. The purpose of this paper is to critically examine, within the context of professional practice and learning, diverse theoretical approaches that are currently prominent in researching transitions and to propose future directions for research.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper begins by describing work contexts integral with professional transitions: regulation, governance and accountability; new work structures; and knowledge development. The discussion then examines transitions research in developmental psychology, lifecourse sociology, and career studies. These perspectives are compared critically in terms of questions and approaches, contributions to understanding professional transitions, and limitations.

Findings

The implications for educators are a series of critical questions about research and education directed to support transitions in professional learning and work. Future directions and questions for research in professional transitions are suggested in the final section, along with implications for supporting professional learning in these transitions.

Originality/value

The paper is not intended to be comprehensive, but to identify issues for the reader's consideration in thinking about various forms of transition being experienced by professions and professionals. The discussion is theory‐based, exploratory, and indicative, rather than definitive.

Details

Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 25 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

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Article
Publication date: 8 September 2014

Rebecca McPherson and Jia Wang

The purpose of this paper was to investigate the embedded process that enables or constrains low-income low-qualified employees’ access to workplace learning in small…

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2009

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper was to investigate the embedded process that enables or constrains low-income low-qualified employees’ access to workplace learning in small organizations.

Design/methodology/approach

Informed by the sociomaterial approach and cultural historical activity theory, this study adopted a qualitative cross-case study method. Data were collected from three small business owners in Central Texas, USA. Data included interviews and organizational artifacts and were analyzed using a constant comparative and inductive thematic data analysis.

Findings

This study extends existing literature for low-income low-qualified employees by elucidating business owners’ motivations to develop supportive employment relationships. Despite incongruent value systems, subordinates were provided equal access to workplace learning based on organizations’ needs and business owners’ value systems.

Research limitations/implications

The organizations’ small size and business owners’ position as the sole decision maker potentially create a different embedded context from supervisors who are subordinates in larger organizations. Further, findings from this qualitative study cannot be generalized without caution.

Practical implications

The findings from this study suggest that workforce professionals should consider the advantages of small organizations for low-qualified clients seeking employment and adult education opportunities. More research is needed to generalize findings that delineate work situations where low-qualified employees can gain equal access to workplace learning and gain access to adult learning opportunities that lead to job mobility.

Originality/value

This study identified an organizational context where business owners support workplace learning for low-income low-qualified employees with incongruent value systems.

Details

Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 26 no. 6/7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

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Article
Publication date: 25 September 2007

Tara Fenwick

This article aims to discuss issues and strategies of developing practices of ecological sustainability in organizations. Three questions guide the discussion: how are…

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5780

Abstract

Purpose

This article aims to discuss issues and strategies of developing practices of ecological sustainability in organizations. Three questions guide the discussion: how are practices of social responsibility and ecological sustainability developed and maintained in organizations? What learning in particular is involved in developing practices of ecological sustainability in organizations? How might this learning be fostered by organizational leaders?

Design/methodology/approach

The article draws from literatures in ecology, ecological learning and corporate social responsibility to describe the nature of ecological sustainability, intents and approaches of organizations developing it, and their challenges. Case examples drawn from studies of small business are examined to explore successful strategies of developing practices of ecological sustainability. These examples are analysed from a learning perspective.

Findings

Challenges that hinder adoption of ecological sustainability practice include low stakeholder understanding and support, low management focus and strategy, and insufficient cost‐benefit analysis. Organizations confronted these challenges by emphasizing education and enabling conditions that fostered learning in everyday action (decentralization, diversity, connections, shared focus, constraints, and feedback).

Research limitations/implications

The discussion shifts the emphasis from corporate social responsibility (CSR) – which has become a broad, contested area of multiple meanings – to ecological sustainability, and shifts the focus from measurement and reporting (prominent in CSR literature) to learning.

Practical implications

Strategies are suggested for organizational leaders to enable conditions for learning that support practices of ecological sustainability.

Originality/value

With the learning perspective, and particularly with the focus on ecological learning models based in complexity science, the article demonstrates a unique link between learning approaches and practices of ecological sustainability.

Details

Leadership & Organization Development Journal, vol. 28 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-7739

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 2 August 2013

Tara Fenwick, Miriam Zukas and Sue Kilminster

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231

Abstract

Details

Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 25 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

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Article
Publication date: 8 September 2014

Sarah Stewart

This paper aims to shed light on the complex multiplicity of domestic violence interagency work. It proposes a new conceptualisation that reflects the entangled nature of…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to shed light on the complex multiplicity of domestic violence interagency work. It proposes a new conceptualisation that reflects the entangled nature of professional practice and learning.

Design/methodology/approach

The research on which this paper draws is an ethnographic study of practice in an integrated local domestic violence initiative. Data include focussed workplace observations, semi-structured interviews and key documents. The study draws on practice-based sociomaterial approaches and the conceptual framework, and methodology is informed by actor-network theory, in particular, the work of Annemarie Mol.

Findings

Findings suggest that interagency work that starts from the victim and traces threads of connection outwards is able to “hang together” as “practice multiple” in integrated service provision. I argue that the learning that happens in these circumstances is a relational effect and depends on who and what is assembled in the actor-network.

Research limitations/implications

The research has significant implications for framing understandings of domestic violence interagency work, as it firmly anchors “working together” to victims. Findings are expected to be of interest not only to practitioners, educators and researchers but also to policymakers.

Originality/value

The paper addresses a current gap in the literature, applies a novel research approach and proposes a new conceptualisation of domestic violence interagency work.

Details

Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 26 no. 6/7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

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Article
Publication date: 8 September 2014

Ann Reich and Paul Hager

This paper aims to problematise practice and contribute to new understandings of professional and workplace learning. Practice is a concept which has been largely taken…

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3818

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to problematise practice and contribute to new understandings of professional and workplace learning. Practice is a concept which has been largely taken for granted and under-theorised in workplace learning and education research. Practice has usually been co-located with classifiers, such as legal practice, vocational practice, teaching practice and yoga practice, with the theoretical emphasis on the domain – legal, teaching and learning.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a theory-driven paper which posits a framework of six prominent threads for theorizing practice. It uses examples of empirical research to illustrate each thread.

Findings

A framework of six prominent threads for theorising practice in professional learning is suggested. It understands practices as patterned, embodied, networked and emergent and learning entwined with working, knowing, organizing and innovating. By conceptualising learning as occurring via and in practices, prominent understanding of learning are challenged. The paper discusses each thread with reference to empirical research that illuminates it and indicates the contributions of practice theory perspectives in richer understandings of professional learning and change.

Originality/value

This paper engages with the practice turn in social sciences to reconceptualise professional and workplace learning. It contributes to research on learning at work by supplementing current thinking about learning, particularly the socio-cultural conceptions of learning, with the resources of practice theories that attend to the regularities of practice.

Details

Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 26 no. 6/7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

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Article
Publication date: 7 May 2010

Tara Fenwick

The purpose of this paper is to address issues of practicing social responsibility (SR) in small business, where SR implementation challenges are unique. The discussion…

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6320

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to address issues of practicing social responsibility (SR) in small business, where SR implementation challenges are unique. The discussion examines the difficulties encountered by small business owners adopting SR practices, and the various strategies they learned in the process.

Design/methodology/approach

A total of 23 small business owner‐managers located in Western Canada were interviewed in‐depth, individually, and in groups. Group interviews were useful for validating and extending the themes and contradictions that arose in individual interviews, particularly in identifying the most common SR challenges and frustrations, and to compare individuals' learning patterns and diverse strategies of response.

Findings

The paper findings show that owners learned SR by working through three main areas of challenge within everyday sociomaterial practices: positioning SR commitments and affiliations; balancing diverse stakeholders with SR ideals and costs; and negotiating value conflicts within SR practice, as part of “becoming” a particular enterprise of SR engagement.

Originality/value

The paper suggests that SR may be most fruitfully studied by examining the traces of the networks, linkages, and boundaries formulated through everyday interactions, focusing not just on the social networks and information exchange among humans, but more deeply on the sociomaterial networks within which new practices such as SR emerge. Second, the paper underscores the importance of conceptualizing SR “learning” more in terms of practices that emerge through challenge and conflict than in acquisition and application of new knowledge and attitudes.

Details

Journal of Global Responsibility, vol. 1 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2041-2568

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 2006

Tara J. Fenwick

The paper aims to explore “Portfolio work”, an emerging form of flexible self‐employment, which has been identified as significant but under‐researched. This paper also…

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1810

Abstract

Purpose

The paper aims to explore “Portfolio work”, an emerging form of flexible self‐employment, which has been identified as significant but under‐researched. This paper also seeks to explore the challenges and benefits of portfolio work from the perspective of individuals' experiences.

Design/methodology/approach

The argument draws from a qualitative study involving 31 individuals practising portfolio work in two different occupational groups: nurses and adult educators. Participants were interviewed in semi‐structured in‐depth conversational interviews to explore their everyday experience and work history in portfolio work.

Findings

Two dimensions of portfolio work, work design and client‐relations, are found to generate experiences of both deep satisfaction and deep anxiety and stress. The paper argues that portfolio careers simultaneously embed both liberating and exploitative at dimensions for workers, which are at least partly related to their own conflicting desires for both contingency and stability. Further, portfolio work embeds labour that often remains unrecognized, even by the self‐employed individuals assuming responsibility for it.

Practical implications

Portfolio workers need to recognise and document their unpaid but necessary labour in work design and client relations that sustains their careers; portfolio workers may need to educate clients about the nature of portfolio work; and employers who contract to portfolio workers must take more responsibility for negotiating fair contracts that are sensitive to overwork and unfair time pressures, and that anticipate and compensate contractors.

Originality/value

These findings challenge existing conceptions of portfolio work as either exploitative or liberating, and expose contradictions embedded in both the conditions of the work and individuals' expectations and attitudes towards it.

Details

Career Development International, vol. 11 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1362-0436

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Article
Publication date: 10 July 2007

Tara Fenwick

This paper seeks to examine the identities and subjectivities of independent knowledge workers who contract their services to organizations. Two questions are addressed…

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2794

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to examine the identities and subjectivities of independent knowledge workers who contract their services to organizations. Two questions are addressed: who are these enterprising knowledge workers, in terms of how they understand and position themselves relative to organizational structures, practices and social relations in their work as “inside outsiders”? How do they recognize their own constitution, and what spaces for agency are possible?

Design/methodology/approach

The discussion draws upon a qualitative study of 18 self‐employed consultants in organizational change, analysing their articulations as ongoing constitutions within prescribed discourses and cultural technologies. Semi‐structured in‐depth interviews were analysed inductively to determine themes and silences among the narratives.

Findings

The argument shows how these subjectivities emerge from in‐between spaces, both inside and outside organizations. As they negotiate these spaces, they exercise agency by resisting control while building connections. These articulations are described as “network identities”.

Originality/value

The paper concludes with implications for organizations employing or contracting with such individuals. Suggestions for managers involve enabling more project structures, negotiating boundaries and purposes more clearly, providing more flexible conditions and facilitating more integration of these knowledge workers with other employees before, during and following innovative project activity.

Details

Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol. 20 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0953-4814

Keywords

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