Robert L Dilworth
Action learning, as a concept, dates back more than 50 years, notably outside of the the United States. Its roots can be traced to action research, a concept and term originated by the German psychologist, Kurt Lewin, in the 1940s. Reginald W. Revans, of England, originally an astrophysicist, pioneered the concepts related to action learning over more than 50 years ago. His effort is extensively documented and involved much in-depth research, including work in coal mines, hospitals, and with industry in Belgium.
Action learning is now gaining in popularity in the U.S. as a way to improve performance, promote learning, and position organisations to adapt better in turbulent times. It is also seen as a way to develop the capabilities of individuals, teams, and overall organisations. An excellent report, Continuous Learning, published by the Canadian Centre for Management Development (1994), suggests that “some of the most interesting and promising innovations in management learning have taken the form of what is called action learning.”