Book Chapter

Normalising standards in educational complexity: A network analysis



Fenwick T (2010) Normalising standards in educational complexity: A network analysis. In: Osberg D & Biesta G (eds.) Complexity Theory and the Politics of Education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, pp. 57-68.

The proliferation of transnational workplace sites has strengthened the demands for consistent standards of practice and operation. These are increasingly applied and regulated internationally through technologies such as ISO 9000. Workplace learning programs have been designed to reduce variation in skills and procedures at the local level, and to increase individuals’ compliance with regulatory manuals, audit forms, error reports etc. Yet at the same time, a key emphasis for organizations attempting to survive amidst global competition is to increase innovation across different units and different operation levels. This push for innovation has been coupled with ideals of a learning organization wherein all employees are supposed to learn continuously, e.g. to increase variation. This paper explores the organizational tension between centrally imposed demands for both standardized practice and innovative challenges to existing standards that often produces complete separation of design and execution functions, sometimes into sites located in different countries. It shows how in practice, workers continue to experiment and learn in ways that deliberately subvert reductionist standards measures, or that produce local innovations that are unrecognized by these measures.

complexity theory; workplace learning; standards; Employees, Training of; Learning Philosophy; Standardization

Publication date31/12/2010
PublisherSense Publishers
Publisher URL…=1064&osCsid=1a7
Place of publicationRotterdam

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Professor Tara Fenwick
Professor Tara Fenwick

Emeritus Professor, Education