Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Action Learning: Research and Practice
For a Special Issue on
Action Learning in Healthcare
08 July 2022
Action Learning in Healthcare
The aim of this Special Issue is to examine the use of action learning in healthcare, the variety of applications which have emerged and the impact which it has had or is having. The following questions are offered as guidance:
- Why has action learning been welcomed in the healthcare field? What is it about this context that has adopted action learning for such a wide range of purposes?
- To what extent has the focus of action learning in healthcare been on personal development, organisational development or social development, and why might this be the case?
- Is action learning in healthcare pursued as a means towards already pre-determined ends, or as an emergent and open-ended approach?
- What are the particular versions of action learning that have been adopted in healthcare – business-driven, critical virtual, self-managed, blended? How successful have they been and what can be learned from their use?
- What has been the impact of action learning on practice in healthcare?
- Who are the action learning facilitators and how are they developed? What supervision, support and challenge is available and how is this arranged?
Background: Action learning has long had a symbiotic relationship with the field of healthcare. Revans, in his early study of communications at Manchester Royal Infirmary, built on the work of Menzies-Lyth and described a hospital as an “institution cradled in anxiety”. He went on in the late 1960s and early 1970s to work with ten London teaching hospitals in the Hospital Internal Communications (HIC) project, an exercise which was subject to extensive external and internal evaluation. This, in turn, led to another major project concerned with the coordination of services for people with learning disabilities, which ran from 1969 to 1972.
However, it was not until the late 1990s and early 2000s that the use of action learning in healthcare became much more widespread. The applications featured especially leadership development in different contexts:
- As a planned and timetabled activity interwoven with other more formal aspects of a leadership programme, with the action learning set either ceasing at the end of the programme or being encouraged to continue in a self-managed way for as long as set members derived benefit.
- As an activity introduced towards the end of a formal programme, with the programme organisers’ anticipation that participants would form sets as a way of continuing their development, so bridging the potential divide between the programme and the work setting.
- As a discrete development activity in its own right, neither relying on, nor continuing the momentum of, a formal programme, but often focused on support for people in emergent roles.
Action learning has subsequently been adopted in the professional fields of medicine, nursing, nurse education, midwifery, health promotion, public health, mental health, learning disability and practice development, with more generic applications in such fields as multi-agency working, primary care, clinical governance, information technology and knowledge management. The intention of this Special Issue is to learn about the adoption and use of the varieties of action learning in different healthcare settings.
In preparing your paper you should regard it as contributing to the conversations within the journal and reflect on the criteria you have used to situate your work within the action learning community. The intention is to provide a “safe space” for new insights that advance theory and practice, so a key question in assessing papers will be “Is this likely to help people in the further development of their practice in working with individuals, organisations and society?”
The following contributions are welcomed:
Refereed papers: We welcome papers that combine practice and theory in providing accounts of action learning in different healthcare settings, or which focus on particular processes that enhance action learning, or which improve its impact. We welcome empirical papers that show people addressing wicked healthcare problems through action learning, and also conceptual papers about how action learning in healthcare has developed, or may develop in the future. Submissions should be between 3,000 and 6,000 words in length.
Accounts of Practice: An Account of Practice (AoP) is essentially a story that shares your own experience of action learning and, importantly, the insights you have gained about action learning and its practice. Submissions should be between 2,000 and 5,000 words.
For further guidance or to discuss a potential paper, email [email protected]
The date of publication will be 1 November 2022
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