Simmons, Jane (2010) A multi-capital approach to understanding participation in professional management education. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This study explores the reasons why adult learners take part in professional management education courses, their social and cultural capital together with their human and economic capital. The author has responsibility for these programmes in a university in the north of England. It is framed by a multiple capital approach which reflects, and illuminates, the rationale for engagement in lifelong learning and professional management education. The underlying research was phenomenological, as it explored the direct experiences of the participants in relation to professional management education.

Two methods were used sequentially, quantitative which provided numerical data by the use of questionnaires, and qualitative, by the use of interviews. The results of the interviews were used to construct the stories of the respondents. Fifty questionnaires were completed by employees and fifteen interviews were undertaken, out of a total population of eighty one. The entire population of twenty four employers completed a questionnaire and six of them were interviewed.

The outcomes of this research highlight the workplace in the twenty-first century, together with the impact of the current economic climate. This has led to a need for the acquisition of new skills by workers at all hierarchical levels in organisations.

Cultural capital was evidenced by the desire of employees to equip themselves with new skills and knowledge, in order to remain in employment and to advance their careers. Many of the respondents gained cultural capital through their early life experiences of home and school and their relationships with mentors. The social capital of employers was found to be important in mentoring, and encouraging, employees to engage in learning.

Economic capital was expressed through engagement in lifelong learning by employees to enhance their knowledge and skills, and to improve their employment prospects.Human capital was evidenced by both employers and employees as engagement in professional management education facilitates the acquisition of new skills and knowledge.

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