The effectiveness of workshops as managerial learning opportunities

Billington, Leo, Neeson, Robyn, & Barrett, Rowena (2009) The effectiveness of workshops as managerial learning opportunities. Education + Training, 51(8/9), pp. 733-746.

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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the effectiveness of workshops as a learning tool for small business owner‐managers (SBO‐Ms). It aims to concentrate on workshops delivered over 18 months from January 2007 to July 2008 as part of several publicly‐funded small business development programmes in two Australian local government areas (LGAs).

Design/methodology/approach Effectiveness is measured in terms of meeting the overarching learning needs and expectations of participants in the context of the programme goals. The paper analyses data gathered from workshop participants either post‐workshop, in later focus groups or through a questionnaire as well as additional feedback from participants and the organisers' reflections. The thematic analysis is organised through an analogy of “going shopping”, where the SBO‐M shopper is buying “learning” when they attend a workshop.

Findings Understanding motivation to participate or the “what's in it for me” is important as SBO‐Ms tend to be reluctant, resist or fail to engage with externally sponsored business support initiatives. Workshops were valued for the “space” they create to reflect on practice. For many SBO‐Ms, content “comes alive” with discussion while networking helps reduce the isolation SBO‐Ms can feel.

Practical implications The shopping analogy suggests workshops must cater for purposeful shoppers as well as browsers, while interaction with others in the workshop is critical to realising the value of workshops.

Originality/value Knowing whether, and how, workshops deliver learning can help to better target and refine these types of support initiatives to ensure they provide positive outcomes for individuals, organisations and economies.

Impact and interest:

3 citations in Scopus
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ID Code: 75426
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Owner‐managers, Management Development, Learning, Employee Assistance Programmes, Australia
DOI: 10.1108/00400910911005271
ISSN: 0040-0912
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Human Resources Management (150305)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Deposited On: 25 Aug 2014 00:04
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2017 10:02

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