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Reading across Workplace Learning Research to Build Dialogue

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image of Frontiers of Education in China

The field of workplace learning scholarship in Western countries is reviewed. First, the emergence of workplace learning scholarship is discussed historically for its relation to the emergence and ongoing development of capitalism beginning from early thought on markets and productivity, 20th century scientific management, industrialism and post-industrialism theses, and finally contemporary conceptual and disciplinary expansion and the conditions of globalization under late capitalism. Following this, six thematic clusters of research are discussed in relation to key scholars, their primary contributions and the ways that each can, potentially, inform those working in other areas of workplace learning scholarship. These thematic clusters include the following: i. cognition, expertise, and the individual; ii. micro-interaction, cognition, and communication; iii. mediated practice and participation; iv. meaning, identity, and organization life; v. authority, conflict, and control; and vi. competitiveness and knowledge management. It is concluded that no single thematic cluster has established predominance, and that there is a strong tendency toward isolation or balkanization of research interests (thematically, nationally, linguistically, etc.) despite a variety of parallel and/or mutually informing interests.


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