The Path to Sustainability
Chapter 6: Collaborative Strategic Improvement Action Learning Programme Design
INTRODUCTION This book is both a theoretical exploration and an empirical development. We have presented the theoretical basis in the preceding chapters. It is time now to look to the field and to the case studies from two collaborative strategic improvement action learning programmes which will deepen our understanding of the theory and provide guidance for managers and practitioners. In order to carry out the field research, this chapter introduces the research design framework for the two programmes. The design principles informing this empirical work feature later in Part 3 where we go beyond the confines of the present cases and extend into a broader discussion of the concept of action learning research. TWO INTER-ORGANIZATIONAL ACTION LEARNING RESEARCH PROGRAMMES: NALP AND CO-IMPROVE Our empirical investigation of action learning in inter-organizational settings is based on two EU-funded research programmes (Coughlan and Coghlan, 2004). The first setting is a management development programme – the National Action Learning Programme (NALP) – which ran in Ireland from 1998 to 2000. The second setting, a programme called CO-IMPROVE, ran from 2001 to 2004 and involved EMEs as interorganizational networks in three European countries. These two action learning programmes reflect the two contrasting settings, introduced in Chapter 4: contractual and non-contractual. NALP is illustrative of the non-contractual setting. As a learning network, NALP involved senior representatives from firms participating voluntarily in an interorganizational action learning group in which their firms did not have any direct commercial relationship with one another. Appendix 1 provides more specific details of how...
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