Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Management by Research

School

School of Business & Law

First Advisor

Associate Professor Llandis Barratt–Pugh

Second Advisor

Associate Professor Janice Redmond

Abstract

In 1995 the Australian Government commissioned the report Enterprising Nation : renewing Australia’s managers to meet the challenges of the Asia-Pacific century (Karpin, 1995), which emphasised the change that was necessary in Australian business to remain competitive in the global and growing economy. The development of flexible organisational cultures, where managers increasingly displayed leadership and developed their staff to generate innovative cultures, was a central premise of the Karpin Report Task Force’s vision. Twenty years later, this study explored the extent to which managers have moved from being ‘cops to coaches’ and integrated the facilitation of employee learning within their roles. Currently, there is still a lack of empirical research into the role that managers play in the learning of employees. This study asked managers to reflect on how they value their role as managers of learning and what activities they undertake to operationalise these responsibilities.

This study was developed by gathering clusters of manager and employee perceptions about their experiences of the facilitation of workplace learning. A local government context provided a revelatory and purposeful case study, as government agencies were at the fore-front of management change initiatives in the early 2000’s and have been subject since to considerable and continuing change through structural re-alignment and increasing social demands.

The study began with a collection of contextual data and subsequently moved to in-depth interviews, which were used to focus on how learning is being facilitated in the workplace by managers and what roles they are taking. The study used well-established theories of workplace learning (Billett, 2004; Marsick & Watkins, 1999; Poell, Chivers, Van Der Krogt, & Wildemeersch, 2000; Senge, 1990; Van der Krogt, 1998) to form the instrument protocols and shape the analysis process.

A comparison of viewpoints showed the real and perceived barriers and enablers to facilitating learning in the workplace. Significant topics that emerged from the study can be categorised into four themes: understanding learning in the workplace; the extent of informal learning in the workplace; managers’ intentions becoming actions; and employee engagement with learning opportunities. Following these themes, four recommendations were provided for managers to enhance their workplace operations. Academically, the study provides a unique profile about the development of management roles in Western Australia and extends current understanding of manager learning roles within organisations from an empirical basis. Pragmatically, the study will provide organisations and managers with a role model case study and examples of workplace cultures and actions that can have positive impacts on workplace learning.

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