SME leaders’ learning in networked learning : an actor-network theory and communities of practice theory informed analysis

Smith, Sue and Rose, Mary and Hodgson, Vivien (2011) SME leaders’ learning in networked learning : an actor-network theory and communities of practice theory informed analysis. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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This thesis brings a Communities of Practice perspective together with Actor-network theory to provide a rich understanding of the social learning processes of SME leaders within a networked learning programme. Networked learning as an educational approach is a growing area in higher education. The networked learning programme under investigation forms part of the knowledge exchange initiatives at Lancaster university management school. The research explores the learning process through a qualitative, inductive approach underpinned by an (online and offline) ethnography and is supported by qualitative interviews, the researcher‟s own reflections and other secondary data. The study focuses on three main issues. Firstly, it provides an in-depth understanding of the way a learning community comes together. Secondly, it shows how delegates learn through co-constructing knowledge and the practices within the learning community. It is proposed that the learning community constructs, learns and challenges the situated curriculum. This takes place through the process of legitimate peripheral participation. Gaining fuller participation leads to an increased identification with that of „leader‟. Thirdly, the study theorises four conceptual learning spaces to show where the delegates learn. They are conceived of as an effect of the delegates‟ engagement with the integrated learning model underpinning the networked learning programme. The thesis concludes with a discussion presenting a set of learning and design principles. These can be used to inform the design and thinking around networked learning and knowledge exchange. Combining the theoretical frameworks of Actor-network theory and Communities of Practice theory is unique in the context of exploring the learning processes within networked learning. This combination stretches aspects of the main tenets of each theory and offers contributions to all three theoretical frameworks.

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Thesis (PhD)
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10 Jan 2013 14:26
Last Modified:
28 Feb 2024 00:23