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Situated Learning in Context: an exploration of the factors influencing workplace learning and ‘knowing’ in contrasting organisations Alison Fuller, Lorna.

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Presentation on theme: "Situated Learning in Context: an exploration of the factors influencing workplace learning and ‘knowing’ in contrasting organisations Alison Fuller, Lorna."— Presentation transcript:

1 Situated Learning in Context: an exploration of the factors influencing workplace learning and ‘knowing’ in contrasting organisations Alison Fuller, Lorna Unwin, Dan Bishop, Alan Felstead, Nick Jewson, Konstantionos Kakavelakis and Tracey Lee Keynote Symposium Problematising ‘Situated’ Theories of Workplace Learning BERA Annual Conference, 2006 University of Warwick

2 Research Evidence Multi-sector study of relationship between learning in the workplace, the organisation of work, and performance Public and private sectors including manufacturing, services, low-grade and ‘knowledge intensive’ Qualitative methods - work shadowing, observation, interviews, learning ‘logs’, audio diaries, photo elicitation - attempting to capture perspective of all grades of employee Quantitative - surveys of employees, ‘logs’, development of ‘better’ survey questions

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4 Complexity of Work and Workplaces Complex range of different forms of learning and knowledge types, knowledge sharing, knowledge management and knowledge creation Organisation of work (including physical and virtual spaces) + business/policy context restricts and expands learning opportunities Learning is mediated and applied through the social relations of production

5 Putting the ‘situation’ back into ‘situated’ Uncritical acceptance of social perspective overlooks: differences between what is learned, how and by whom and the role of ‘teaching’ uneven distribution of access to training, broader organisational knowledge and lack of status for ‘hidden’ knowledge current theories of knowledge (personal, codified, work process, tacit etc) need testing across a wider range of settings

6 Van Driver’s Story: Sandwich Making Label ‘van driver’ denotes low-grade job in UK, but crucial function for company A Each driver has a ‘round’ of 50 or more ‘drops’ Driver knowledge encompasses: devising efficient route for day; deciding product line to suit each ‘drop’; negotiate prices; arrange product on shelf to maxmise sales; minimise waste; seek out new customers; maintain existing customer loyalty; keep records; calculate and collect money; feedback field intelligence to directors Collective knowledges (drivers, customers, managers) in dynamic daily dance

7 The impact of the ‘symbol gun’ as actor in productive system: the case of the supermarket Department managers have discretion to control rather ne controlled by the symbol gun – computer has capacity to learn “…these little guns obviously are controlling…obviously we’re putting all the information in to that which takes it to the computers, so I mean without these in this store, we wouldn’t know what our stock levels were and we’d be in a bit of a mess, we do rely on those…” Contrast – another manager uses gun to ‘police’ staff

8 Working in a ‘Mother Ship’: the software engineers all training in-house and largely ‘on-the-job’ - rotating teams - intensive performance review process all employees expected to ‘manage’ – high value on teaching skills Knowledge created through teams and customer interaction Current ‘generative dance’ (Cook and Brown) between knowledge and knowing in need of fresh stimulus – ‘Mother Ship’ too enclosed

9 More Information ‘Learning as Work: Teaching and Learning Processes in the Contemporary Work Organisation’ is an ESRC-funded project ( ) directed by Alan Felstead, Lorna Unwin, Alison Fuller and Nick Jewson – For more information contact or


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