Collaborative Strategic Improvement through Network Action Learning
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Collaborative Strategic Improvement through Network Action Learning

The Path to Sustainability

Paul Coughlan and David Coghlan

Improvement is fundamental to the competitiveness of networks and requires the participating firms to collaborate in identifying and introducing changes. This book presents collaborative strategic improvement as a cycle of activities in which firms in a network can engage together. Drawing on actual cases, authors link this cycle with disciplined action learning as a means of building upon experience generated through collaborative action. They describe how a network can learn from experience and deploy that learning in the marketplace.
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Paul Coughlan and David Coghlan


The National Action Learning Programme (NALP) began in Ireland in 1997 and was funded by the European Commission (DG EMPL Contract C96 3627). The pilot phase of the programme was completed by autumn 1998. It involved 20 firms in four networks focusing on: ● ● ● ● rejuvenation of the mature firm, developing and managing the high growth SME, adopting ‘World Class’ operations practices in the well-established firm, securing and expanding the mandate (tent pegging) of the multinational subsidiary. The second phase expanded the participation level to some 70 firms in 13 networks and 160 managers, facilitated by 20 academics. New themes included: ● ● ● ● ● developing the software firm, managing the voluntary organization, creating sustainable competitive advantage in the service firm, implementing strategic change in the public sector, adapting front-line staff to the new work environment. At the heart of the NALP programme was the development of an approach which would help managers and their firms to develop the capabilities of a learning organization, enabling them to transform themselves continuously through learning for the benefit of their stakeholders. Conditions of participation in the programme were explicit: ● ● ● ● strategic importance of the issue to the firm, openness in discussions with other firms and to feedback from those firms, confidentiality with respect to all matters discussed between firms, evident commitment to participation in the programme. 194 M2539 - COUGHLAN PRINT.indd 194 25/02/2011 14:43 Appendix 1 195 Action learning by the participating firms in real time was central to the approach and drew upon programmed learning, learning networks, coaching,...

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