This article explores the strengths and weaknesses of Lave and Wenger's concept of 'legitimate peripheral participation' as a means of understanding workplace learning. It draws on recent ESRC-funded research by the authors in contemporary workplace settings in the UK (manufacturing industry and secondary schools) to establish the extent to which Lave and Wenger's theories can adequately illuminate the nature and process of learning at work. The new research presented here, which was located in complex institutional settings, highlights the diverse nature of patterns and forms of participation. Case study evidence is used to identify individual and contextual factors which underpin and illuminate the ways in which employees learn. The paper argues that whilst Lave and Wenger's work continues to provide an important source of theoretical insight and inspiration for research in to learning at work, it has significant limitations. These limitations relate to the application of their perspective to contemporary workplaces in advanced industrial societies and to the institutional environments in which people work. These complex settings play a crucial role in the configuration of opportunities and barriers to learning that employees encounter.
BackgroundDespite concerns about the degree of compassion in contemporary healthcare, there is a dearth of evidence for health service managers about how to promote compassionate healthcare. This paper reports on the implementation of the Creating Learning Environments for Compassionate Care (CLECC) intervention by four hospital ward nursing teams. CLECC is a workplace educational intervention focused on developing sustainable leadership and work-team practices designed to support team relational capacity and compassionate care delivery.ObjectivesTo identify and explain the extent to which CLECC was implemented into existing work practices by nursing staff, and to inform conclusions about how such interventions can be optimised to support compassionate care in acute settings.MethodsProcess evaluation guided by normalisation process theory. Data gathered included staff interviews (n=47), observations (n=7 over 26 hours) and ward manager questionnaires on staffing (n=4).ResultsFrontline staff were keen to participate in CLECC, were able to implement many of the planned activities and valued the benefits to their well-being and to patient care. Nonetheless, factors outside of the direct influence of the ward teams mediated the impact and sustainability of the intervention. These factors included an organisational culture focused on tasks and targets that constrained opportunities for staff mutual support and learning.ConclusionsRelational work in caregiving organisations depends on individual caregiver agency and on whether or not this work is adequately supported by resources, norms and relationships located in the wider system. High cognitive participation in compassionate nursing care interventions such as CLECC by senior nurse managers is likely to result in improved impact and sustainability.
Defining network boundaries is a key challenge in social network analysis. In our recent qualitative study of network influences on educational decision-making — based on interviews with 107 individuals from 16 case study networks — the set of members with whom interviews were secured in each case represented only a sub-set of the broader networks from which they were drawn. Following an introduction to our study and an outline of our approach, we consider some of the processes of filtering and selection that affected the specific composition of our network sample, and reflect upon what this tells us about the processes by which participants in network-based research make decisions about the representation of their networks within research contexts. We then explore the question of whether the partiality of our data actually matters, and conclude that it reflects the permeable, partial and dynamic nature of social networks, characteristics which are central to qualitatively-informed understandings of SNA.
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