Reginald Revans: The Pioneer of Action Learning

Living reference work entry

Abstract

This chapter describes the philosophy and approach of Reginald Revans (1907–2003), a UK scientist and educational innovator. It traces the influences on his thinking, from his early imbibing of Christian and Quaker traditions to the later impact of world philosophies especially including Buddhism. His contribution to our understanding of change management processes gives a central place to learning, both personal and institutional. Revans’ approach emphasizes the practical and moral significance of personal involvement in action and learning, as a means of resolving the intractable social and organizational problems that we find around us. Over a long life, Revans was ceaselessly active in testing his ideas which were always in a state of emergence. He leaves a rich heritage of proposals and possibilities for present practitioners. Five of the legacies of his work are discussed in this paper: Virtual Action Learning, Critical Action Learning, The Wicked Problems of Leadership, Unlearning, and the Paradox of Innovation.

Keywords

Action learning Leadership Wicked problems Innovation Unlearning 

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Further Reading

  1. Heifetz, R. (1994). Leadership without easy answers. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  2. For More on Revans and the Development of His Ideas

    1. Boshyk, Y., & Dilworth, L. (2010). Action learning: History and evolution. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.Google Scholar
    2. Pedler, M. (Ed.). (2011). Action learning in practice (4th ed.). Farnham: Gower.Google Scholar
    3. Raelin, J. (2009). On seeking conceptual clarity in the action modalities. Action Learning: Research and Practice, 6(1), 17–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
    4. Revans, R. (2011). ABC of action learning. Farnham: Gower. (This is the only text by Revans which is in print and easily available).Google Scholar
    5. The journal Action Learning: Research & Practice from Routledge, Taylor & Francis. www.tandtonline.com/actionlearning
    6. Yorks, L., O’Neil, J., & Marsick, V. (Eds.). (1999). Action learning: Successful strategies for individual, team & organizational development. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.Google Scholar

    For More on Revans’ Legacies

    1. Brook, C., Pedler, M., Abbott, C., & Burgoyne, J. (2016). On stopping doing those things that are not getting us to where we want to be: Unlearning, wicked problems and critical action learning. Human Relations, 69(2), 369–389.Google Scholar
    2. Caulat, G. (2012). Virtual action learning: A new genre for powerful learning. In S. Voller, E. Blass, & V. Culpin (Eds.), The future of learning: Insights and innovations from executive development. Basingstoke: Palgrave.Google Scholar
    3. Dickenson, M., Burgoyne, J., & Pedler, M. (2010). Virtual action learning: Practices and challenges. Action Learning: Research and Practice, 7(1), 59–72.Google Scholar
    4. Vince, R. (2008). ‘Learning-in-action’ and ‘learning inaction’: Advancing the theory and practice of critical action learning. Action Learning: Research and Practice, 5(2), 93–104.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Henley Business SchoolUniversity of Reading and Centre for Action Learning Facilitation (CALF)ReadingUK

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