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organisational learning

November 14, 2017

Topic: Research

Organisational learning connects public participation in science policy

Helen Pallet reviews organisational learning around the UK’s Sciencewise program, a public participation body appointed to promote dialogue in science policy.

In her article, ‘Situating organisational learning and public participation: stories, spaces and connections’, Pallet looks at organisational learning through a ‘situated co-productionist’ framework. This approach focuses on processes through which knowledge is created by multiple actors. But it also identifies the settings of these processes. In essence, the context of each learning process shapes its outcome – and quality.

Pallet demonstrates the relevance of this approach for the study of public participation in science policy, where institutional contexts tend to be overlooked. Here, she outlines two organisational spaces around the Sciencewise program: management space and public engagement space.

While organisational spaces are physical, metaphorical and virtual, they are also layered with practices, identities, memories and values. In a co-productive relationship, organisational learning spaces can produce knowledge – ideas, skills, assumptions – which, in turn, act on the space.  

Informal, temporary and experimental organisational spaces lend themselves to reflective and transformative learning, the article finds. The superficial learning processes of rigid, routinised spaces tend to reproduce existing ways to understand new knowledge. But, ideas can travel and embed themselves. The connectedness of organisational spaces may hold the key to fostering ideas and shifting organisational understanding.   

Helen Pallett is Lecturer in the Human Geography of the Environment in the Science, Society & Sustainability group in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia.

Photo: Tirachard Kumtanom/Pexels/cc