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  • 2016FarooqMughalPhD

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Can the reflective practice of action learning enhance criticality in MBAs?: A Bourdieusian analysis of organizing learning sets in the Pakistani business schools

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Published
Publication date2016
Number of pages399
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The aim of this doctoral study is to explore the cultural complexities of organizing action learning at three Pakistani business schools with the intention of investigating whether reflective practice can be established as a self-sustaining feature of MBA education. The study informs about the cultural conditions shaping the reflective practice of Pakistani MBA students in action learning by challenging their taken-for-granted assumptions and encouraging habits of critical thinking. However, with a lack of literature that documents the use of action learning in non-western cultures, the empirical insights generated by this study shed light on the difficulties surrounding the potential realization of reflective practice in the Pakistani MBA. This qualitative study is pivotal in filling this gap by providing academics, facilitators and practitioners with a cultural understanding about the organization of reflection in action learning and its situated perspective in a non-western context.

This study argues that gaining an understanding of the embodied dispositions of action learners is a significant factor in fostering pedagogies of action within a given cultural context. The data obtained through set observations and interviews with 31 Pakistani MBA students over a 16-week period is indicative of the friction between predisposed, embodied, dispositions (e.g. gender, power, emotions, identity) and action learning’s reflexive character. An explanatory framework, drawing upon Bourdieu’s theory of practice (i.e. habitus, field and capital) helps reveal: cultural dispositions embodied by participants that structure reflective practices, the politics and emotions mobilized during reflection that legitimize power-relations, and the embodied practices shaping group dynamics in the action learning space. The study contributes to action learning practice in the Pakistani MBA and similar contexts, and in particular cautions practitioners to consider culturally sensitive ways of developing a collective space conducive to reflective dialogue. In conclusion, this study emphasises the need to recognize culture and its relation to reflection – i.e. to acknowledge the challenges of embodied dispositions to action learning, the psychological and political implications they have for organizing reflective practice in sets, and the complex interaction between action learning and the embodied and situated culture of Pakistani MBA students.