Summary of Understanding Action Learning

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Understanding Action Learning book summary
Action learning engrosses employees in learning as they work, whether they are managers, machinists or maids.


5 Overall

7 Applicability

5 Innovation

4 Style


Action Learning (AL) is a popular method for improving organizational effectiveness by learning how to address real problems in real time. Authors Judy O’Neil and Victoria J. Marsick provide a solid introduction to the four AL “schools,” or methods. They help you assess whether AL is right for your firm and, if so, which school of thinking you should choose. They offer good information and give you the basics of getting started with AL. Their book has a familiar textbook style, with case studies and an appendix offering deeper theory. However, awkward phrasing, repetitive language and an academic approach can, at times, distract from the content. Nonetheless, getAbstract thinks the book offers a useful explanation of AL for executives and managers, especially those with human-resource or training responsibilities.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What the four “schools” of Action Learning (AL) are;
  • How the role of AL coach varies within each school; and
  • How to decide which approach to use.


Is Your Organization Ready for Action Learning?
Action Learning (AL) has become an increasingly popular method of employee training and development over the past 20 years. Companies face a new set of challenges, including globalization, and need to generate innovative solutions instead...
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About the Authors

Judy O’Neil, Ed.D., teaches at Columbia University and serves as president of Partners for Learning and Leadership, Inc. Victoria J. Marsick, Ph.D., also teaches at Columbia and co-directs its J.M. Huber Institute for Learning in Organizations.

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