Fuller, Alison, Unwin, Lorna, Bishop, Dan, Felstead, Alan, Jewson, Nick, Konstantinos, Kakavelakis and Lee, Tracey (2006) Continuity, Change and Conflict: The Role of Learning and Knowing in Different Productive Systems. Other. Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK. (Unpublished)

This paper explores the relationship between the way work is organised,
the organisational context, and learning in the workplace. It develops, in
part, from earlier work where we argued that organisations differ in the
way they create and manage themselves as learning environments, with
some conceptualised as ‘expansive’ in the sense that their employees
experience diverse forms of participation and, hence, are more likely to
foster learning at work (see Fuller and Unwin, 2004). The paper argues
that contemporary workplaces give rise to many different forms of
learning, some of which is utilised to the benefit of the organisation and
employees (though not, necessarily, in a reciprocal manner), but much of
which is buried within everyday workplace activity. By studying the way
in which work is organised (including the organisation of physical and
virtual spaces), it is possible to expose some of this learning activity as
well as examples of the creation of new (or refined) knowledge. Part of
this process involves the breaking down of conceptual hierarchies that
presuppose that learning is restricted to certain types of employee and/or
parts of an organisation. This paper builds on the work of other
researchers who highlight the importance of the context (see, inter alia,
Nonaka et al, 2005; Boreham and Morgan, 2004; Unwin et al 2005). It
also draws on the work of Engeström (see, inter alia, 2001), who has
highlighted the way new knowledge is created through employee
interaction when problem solving and, hence, has paid attention to the
important question of the quality of learning in the workplace. In addition,
it builds on Wilkinson’s (2002) conceptualisation of the way organisations
construct, manage and respond to social relations of production that
operate at a variety of levels in ‘productive systems’. The paper uses
evidence from the ‘learning as work’ project, which is based in public and
private sector organisations in the UK.


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