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Article
Publication date: 16 September 2019

Emma O'Brien, John McCarthy, Ileana Hamburg and Yvonne Delaney

This paper aims to explore how in Irish small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), problem-based learning (PBL) could possibly provide a paradigm which addresses two key…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore how in Irish small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), problem-based learning (PBL) could possibly provide a paradigm which addresses two key research objectives: What are the learning needs and challenges faced by Irish SMEs? and How could PBL satisfy these needs through integrating formal and informal learning?

Design/methodology/approach

An action research methodology was adopted using Lewin’s (1994) action research cycle. In the reconnaissance stage, surveys and focus groups were conducted with a purposive research sample of Irish SMEs regarding their learning needs and challenges. Based on these results, a plan was formulated to adapt the traditional PBL model into a workplace PBL model (wPBL). Lastly, the wPBL model was implemented and evaluated in 42 SMEs.

Findings

The research identified several specific learning needs for SMEs, namely, learning that is cost-effective, tailored to the company and its challenges, immediately applied, demonstrates a tangible outcome (is measurable), organically fostering a learning culture, addresses knowledge gaps, continuous, develops communication, team work, problem-solving and technical skills. The traditional PBL model was adapted into a wPBL model to meet the above learning needs of SMEs. It was found that the wPBL model had the potential to address long-standing company problems (making it cost-effective), facilitate continuous learning and develop horizontal and transversal skills such as problem-solving and communication.

Originality/value

Much of the learning that takes place in SMEs is incidental or informal, and often does not contribute to the long-term sustainability of the organisation. This paper aims to propose a practical framework using wPBL to structure incidental and informal learning in SMEs so that it provides an immediate benefit to the company. To date, there has been little research into the application of PBL outside higher education, and the paper proposes a framework to assist the transition of PBL to a workplace environment.

Details

Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 31 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 21 February 2020

This paper aims to review the latest management developments across the globe and pinpoint practical implications from cutting-edge research and case studies.

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to review the latest management developments across the globe and pinpoint practical implications from cutting-edge research and case studies.

Design/methodology/approach

This briefing is prepared by an independent writer who adds their own impartial comments and places the articles in context.

Findings

Finding an approach to learning that meets their requirements remains a challenge for SMEs. An appropriate blend of formal and informal learning aspects offers some encouragement and problem-based learning has the potential to tick the right boxes in this respect.

Originality/value

The briefing saves busy executives and researchers hours of reading time by selecting only the very best, most pertinent information and presenting it in a condensed and easy-to-digest format.

Details

Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal, vol. 34 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-7282

Keywords

Content available
Book part
Publication date: 27 October 2017

Abstract

Details

Gender Panic, Gender Policy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-203-1

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