Two Logics of Learning

  • Per-Erik Ellström


A recurrent theme in critical studies of adult education, lifelong learning, and, in particular, work-based learning is their alleged instrumental character. A common point of departure for a lot of this criticism is the principle of performativity (Lyotard, 1984), that is, the idea that education is subjugated to a managerialist discourse of efficiency and instrumental means-end calculation. The principle of performativity is argued to have a predominant influence on the educational system at large, and, thereby, also on systems for promoting lifelong learning (Halliday, 2003) and learning at work (Garrick & Clegg, 2001). As argued by the latter authors, in ‘performative times’ being a good learner is equal to being a good performer.


Organizational Learning Work Process Subjective Factor Competence Development Taylorist Model 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adler, P. S. (1993). The learning bureaucracy. In B. M. Staw & L. L. Cummings (eds), Research in Organizational Behavior, 15, 111–94. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.Google Scholar
  2. Annett, J. (1969). Feedback and human behavior. Baltimore: Penguin.Google Scholar
  3. Antonacopoulou, E., & Tsoukas, H. (2002). Time and Reflexivity in Organization Studies: An Introduction. Organization Studies, 23(6), 857–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Argyris, C. (1993). Knowledge for action. A guide to overcoming barriers to organizational change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  5. Argyris, C., & Schön, D. A. (1978). Organizational learning. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley.Google Scholar
  6. Argyris, C., Putnam, R., & McLain Smith, D. (1985). Action Science. Concepts. Methods, and Skills for Research and Intervention. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  7. Axelsson, B. (1996). Kompetens för konkurrenskraft. [Competence for competition]. Stockholm: SNS Förlag.Google Scholar
  8. Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84, 191–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Barley, S. R., & Kunda, G. (2001). Bringing work back in. Organization Science, 12(1), 76–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bateson, G. (1987). Steps to an ecology of mind. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson.Google Scholar
  11. Björkman, T., & Lundqvist, K. (1992). ‘Smart Production’ — processindustrins framtidsmodell? En studie av Berol Nobel. Stockholm: KTH/Castor.Google Scholar
  12. Brown, J. S., & Duguid, P. (1991). Organizational learning and communities of practice. Towards a unified view of working, learning, and innovation. Organization Science, 2(1), 40–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Campbell, D. T. (1993). Blind variation and selective retention in creative thought as in other knowledge processes. In G. Radnitzky & W. W. Bartley III (eds), Evolutionary Epistemology, Rationality, and the Sociology of Knowledge (pp. 91–115). Chicago: Open Court.Google Scholar
  14. Davidson, B., & Svedin, P. O. (1999). Lärande i produktionssystem. En studie av operatörsarbete inom process-och verkstadsindustri. [Learning in production systems: A study of operator works in highly automated process and manufacturing industry]. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Linköping University, Sweden.Google Scholar
  15. Dewey, J. (1933). How we think. A restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the educative process. Boston: D. C. Heath.Google Scholar
  16. Dreyfus, S. E., & Dreyfus, H. L. (1986). Mind over Machine. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  17. Eldh, C. (2001). ‘Remember all racing at own risk!’ — föreställningar om risk och teknik i konstruktionen av maskulinitet. Fronesis (8), 44–56.Google Scholar
  18. Ellström, P.-E. (1992). Kompetens, lärande och utbildning i arbetslivet: Problem, begrepp och teoretiska perspektiv. [Competence, learning and work-based education: Problems, concepts and theoretical. perspectives]. Stockholm: Publica.Google Scholar
  19. Ellström, P.-E. (2001). Integrating Learning and Work: Conceptual Issues and Critical Conditions. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 12(4).Google Scholar
  20. Ellström, P.-E. (2002). Time and the Logics of Learning. Lifelong Learning in Europe, 2, 86–93.Google Scholar
  21. Ellström, P.-E., & Gustavsson, M. (1996). Lärande produktion — erfarenheter frän ett utvecklingsprogram för processoperatörer. [Learning production — Experiences from a development programme for process operators]. In P.-E. Ellström, B. Gustavsson & S. Larsson (eds), Livslångt lärande. [Lifelong Learning]. Lund: Studentlitteratur.Google Scholar
  22. Engeström, Y. (1987). Learning by expanding: An activity theoretical approach to development research. Helsinki, Finland: Orienta Konsultit.Google Scholar
  23. Engeström, Y. (1999). Innovative learning in work teams: Analyzing cycles of knowledge creation in practice. In Y. Engeström, R. Miettinen & R.-L. Punamäki (eds), Perspectives on activity theory (pp. 19–38). New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fenwick, T. J. (2003). Professional Growth Plans: Possibilities and Limitations of an Organization wide Employee Development Strategy. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 14(1), 59–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Frese, M., & Altmann, A. (1989). The treatment of errors in learning and training. In L. Bainbridge & S. A. Ruiz Quintanilla (eds), Developing skills with information technology (pp. 65–86). Chichester: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  26. Garrick, J., & Clegg, S. (2001). Stressed-out Knowledge Workers in Performative Times: A Postmodern Take on Project-based Learning. Management Learning, 32(1), 119–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gersick, C. J. G., & Hackman, J. R. (1990). Habitual Routines in Task-Performing Groups. Organizational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes, 47, 65–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gustavsson, M. (2000). Potentialer for lärande i processoperatörers arbete. En studie av operatörers lärande och arbete i högautomatiserad processindustri. [Potentials for learning in process operator work. A study of learning and work in highly automated processing industry]. Linköping: Linköping Studies in Education and Psychology, Linköpings Universitet.Google Scholar
  29. Halliday, J. (2003). Who Wants to Learn Forever? Hyperbole and Difficulty with Lifelong Learning. Studies in Philosopy and Education, 22, 195–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hassard, J. (2002). Organizational Time: Modern, Symbolic, and Postmodern Reflections. Organization Studies, 23(6), 885–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Helms Jørgensen, C., & Warring, N. (2002). Læring på arbejdspladsen. In K. Illeris (ed.), Udspil om læring i arbejdslivet. Roskilde: Roskilde Universitetsforlag.Google Scholar
  32. Hirschorn, L. (1984). Beyond Mechanization: Work and Technology in a Postindustrial Age. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  33. Klein, G. A., Orasanu, J., Calderwood, R., & Zsambok, C. (eds). (1993). Decision Making in Action: Models and Methods. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar
  34. Kock, H. (2002). Lärande i teambaserad organisation. [Learning in teambased organizations]. Linköping: Linköping Studies in Education and Psychology, Linköpings Universitet.Google Scholar
  35. Kohn, M. L., & Schooler, C., (1983). Work and personality: An inquiry into the impact of social stratification. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar
  36. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Levitt, B., & March, J. G. (1988). Organizational learning. Annual Review of Sociology, 14, 319–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lillrank, P., Shani (Rami), A. B., Kolodny, H., Stymne, B., Figuera, J. R., & Liu, M. (1998). Learning from the Success of Continuous Improvements Change Programs: An International Comparative Study. Research in Organizational Change and Development, 11, 47–71.Google Scholar
  39. Lundvall, B.-A., & Nielsen, P. (1999). Competition and Transformation in the Learning Economy. Illustrated by the Danish Case. Revue D’Économie Industrielle, 88(2), 67–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lyotard, J.-F. (1984). The postmodern condition: a report on knowledge. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  41. March, J. G. (1991). Exploration and exploitation in organizational learning. Organization Science, 2, 71–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. March, J. G., & Simon, H. A. (1958). Organizations. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  43. McGrath, R. G. (2001). Exploratory learning, innovative capacity, and managerial oversight. Academy of Management Journal, 44(1), 118–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mintzberg, H. (1979). The structuring of organizations. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  45. Norros, L. (1995). An orientation-based approach to expertise. In J.-M. Hoc, P. C. Cacciabue & E. Hollnagel, Expertise and technology: Cognition and human-computer interaction (pp. 141–64). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  46. Rönnqvist, D. (2001). Kompetensutveckling i praktiken — ett samspel mellan ledning, yrkesgrupper och omvärld. [Competence development in practice — interactions between management, occupational groups and context]. Linköping: Linköping Studies in Education and Psychology, Linköpings Universitet.Google Scholar
  47. Sandberg, J. (1994). Human competence at work: An interpretative approach. Göteborg, Sweden: BAS Förlag.Google Scholar
  48. Schein, E. H. (1988). Organizational Psychology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  49. Schön, D. A. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action. London: Temple Smith.Google Scholar
  50. Staw, B. M. (1990). An evolutionary approach to creativity and innovation. In M. A. West & J. L. Farr (eds), Innovation and Creativity at Work. New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  51. Thunborg, C. (1999). Lärande av yrkesidentiteter. En studie av läkare, sjuksköterskor och undersköterskor. [Learning professional identities at work: A study of doctors, nurses and assistant nurses]. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Linköping University, Sweden.Google Scholar
  52. Weick, K. E. (2001). Making Sense of the Organization. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  53. Weick, K. E., & Sutcliffe, K. M. (2001). Managing the Unexpected: Assuring High Performance in an Age of Complexity. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  54. Zuboff, S. (1988). In the age of the smart machine: The future of work and power. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Per-Erik Ellström 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Per-Erik Ellström

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations