Anxiety and experience-based learning in a professional standards context

Sarah Gilmore, Valerie Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article contributes an analysis of the use of experiential learning and reflection within a management education context where its use has received less attention: a learning environment dominated by the requirements of a professional body, where successful attainment of the qualification offered by the programme is linked with entry into the profession and to promotion within it. Using a psychoanalytic lens, this study shows the tension occurring between experiential learning methods and the ‘expert knowledge’ requirements of professional bodies. Tension is essential for learning but we argue that the consequences of it are uncertain and that it deserves more attention within the management education domain. We highlight the ways by which anxiety generated by this tension can stimulate meaningful and reflexive outcomes but our findings also indicate that ‘learning inaction’ (Vince, 2008) is also possible, particularly where tutors are unable to provide a sufficient ‘holding’ environment when anxieties arising from experience-based learning and expert knowledge demands become too hard to bear.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-95
Number of pages21
JournalManagement Learning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2011


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