Informal Learning at Work: Examining How Managers in the Public Sector Learn Informally in the Workplace

  • Author / Creator
    Pagonis, Alice J
  • Some of an organization’s most valuable resources are their managers since they have a core function in directing and influencing strategy, controlling resources, and monitoring employee performance (Storey, 1989). It is unclear how managers learn to become managers as well as how, when, and where their learning occurs. Utilizing case study methodology, this study explored the informal learning of supervisors and managers in the public sector. The three research questions were (a) what are managers learning informally in the workplace, (b) how are managers learning informally in the workplace, and (c) what contextual workplace factors affect their informal learning? Results of the study found that supervisors and managers learn both leadership and management competencies and that leadership competencies are important to the overall informal learning and development of supervisors and managers. Second, supervisors and managers learn predominantly from participating in specific job-related activities in the workplace (e.g. acting and seconded positions), consulting others by asking questions and requesting feedback, and solving ill-structured problems. Lastly, contextual factors in the workplace can either create opportunities for, or barriers to, learning. There are three key implications for the informal learning of supervisors and managers. First, leadership competencies in addition to manager competencies are critical to the overall learning and development of supervisors and managers. Second, learning primarily occurs informally in the workplace. Therefore, expansive workplace learning strategies must be developed and supported by the organization in order to develop a competent supervisor and manager workforce. Third, since acting and secondment positions were used as the main method for succession planning and learning within the workplace, a standardized succession planning and management process should be developed to ensure equitable access to such opportunities.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Specialization
    • Adult, Community and Higher Education
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Coady, M (St. Francis Xavier University)
    • Hunter, D A (Educational Policy Studies)
    • Cleveland-Innes, M (Athabasca University)
    • Stelmach, B L (Educational Policy Studies)