Practitioner development: from trained technicians to reflective practitioners: a systemic study within a United Kingdom unitary authority
Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis
This thesis demonstrates how my research makes an original contribution to knowledge in the development of reflective practitioners leading to improved competence in the practice of managing projects in a workplace setting. This contribution is exciting and has the potential to generate significant debate on how best to educate project practitioners both in workplace settings and University courses. In 2006 the Rethinking Project Management (RPM) network, a collaboration between academics and practitioners reported on their work proposing five directions for future research and practice. The fifth of these proposed a move ‘…from practitioners as trained technicians towards practitioners as reflective practitioners.’ (Winter, Smith, Morris, & Cicmil, 2006, p.642). Critical to this change was a move away from technical training against an established body of knowledge or methodology (Crawford, et al, 2006, p.724) and towards an approach based in active learning and engagement. This thesis demonstrates how such an approach supports participants to develop as reflective, adaptive practitioners who are able and willing to learn on a continuing basis. The literature review demonstrates a clear gap in knowledge, as Svejvig and Andersen (2015) found only seven published contributions discussing this topic. My review of the literature discovered 15 contributions on educating project managers, mainly practitioner development through University courses; with none mentioning the development of reflective practitioners in the workplace. My research contributes knowledge to this gap by designing a development programme which the collected data shows developed reflective practitioners. The data comes form 25 interviews of delegates on this development programme and a clear improvement in performance is indicated by business metrics. The research was conducted in a UK unitary authority and applied a dual cycle insider action research approach. There was a business issue to dissolve and the research interests that emerged from this issue formed the dual cycle.
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