Researching Situated Learning: Participation, Identity and Practices in Client—Consultant Relationships



Handley K, Clark T, Fincham R & Sturdy A (2007) Researching Situated Learning: Participation, Identity and Practices in Client—Consultant Relationships. Management Learning, 38 (2), pp. 173-191.

Situated learning theory has emerged as a radical alternative to conventional cognitivist theories of knowledge and learning, emphasising the relational and structural aspects of learning as well as the dynamics of identity construction. However, although many researchers have embraced the theoretical strengths of this perspective, methodological and operational issues remain undeveloped in the literature. This paper seeks to address these deficiencies by developing a conceptual framework informed by situated learning theory and by investigating the methodological implications. The framework is applied in the context of an empirical study of how management consultants learn the practices and identities appropriate to client-consultant projects. By presenting two vignettes and interpreting them using the conceptual framework, we show how learning is regulated by the consulting firm as well as individuals themselves, and that, paradoxically, 'failure to learn' may be an outcome of consultants' efforts to construct a coherent sense of self.

Situated learning; consultancy; methodology; communities of practice; identity; Consultants Case studies; Business consultants Case studies; Organizational effectiveness Case strudies; Learning, Psychology of

Management Learning: Volume 38, Issue 2

Publication date30/04/2007

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Professor Robin Fincham

Professor Robin Fincham

Emeritus Professor, Management, Work and Organisation