The dominant discourses of learning at work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Many perspectives are presented in this book. Some support each other, others do not. Indeed there are ambiguities and internal contradictions in theories about ‘learning’ and ‘work’. Yet each makes important contributions to our understanding. To draw conclusions about possible futures for workplace learning this chapter identifies four of the most influential discourses on learning at work. These are reflected in this book and throughout the literature more generally. They are: human capital theory; experience-based learning; cognition and expertise; and generic skills, capabilities and competence. These discourses are themselves subject to the broader influences of contemporary economic views of the world. They contribute to new operational knowledge about learning. In this chapter a case is made for learning based in the workplace to be viewed as containing far more possibilities than the prevalent narrow interpretations of competence, and the economic or utilitarian outcomes sought in many locations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnderstanding Learning at Work
PublisherTaylor and Francis AS
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)0203020057, 9781134674145
ISBN (Print)041518228X, 9780415182287
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


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