Volume 38 (2015)

Organizational Research in Adult Education – Theory, Methods, Empirical Findings

List of contents Volume 38


The current edition of the International Yearbook of Adult Education is dedicated to the topic “Organizational Research in Adult Education – Theory, Methods, Empirical Findings”. Volume 38 focused on recent trends in this field of adult education research by comprising three main aspects: On the one hand the International Yearbook considers articles addressing theory development. On the other hand methods of organizational research are highlighted. The third focus grasps current empirical findings. 



Henning Pätzold

Organisationstheorien in der Erwachsenenbildung. Rezeption und Nutzung

Which organisation theories receive attention and are applied in the research and theory development of adult education? This question is addressed by means of a literature study. 173 articles from conference proceedings and scientific journals are evaluated to identify references to organisation theory from an adult education point of view. Thus a quantitative overview of the reception and use of those theories shall be given. Contributions addressing learning theory and organisational learning were representatively reviewed in a qualitative way to describe mutual links between adult education and organisation studies. Against the background of a network-oriented concept of scientific theory debates it can be shown that the majority of organisation theories are rather to be found in the periphery of the focus of adult education; yet there are hints toward emerging trends as for reception and use of particular theories.


David A. Buchanan

What’s trending now@ #organizational research methods

This chapter explores three trends in research methods in organization studies. The first concerns attempts to standardize the reporting and conduct of research, with a quants-based template for presenting qualitative studies, and through the evidence-based management movement. The latter, which has become established in education as well as in other professional areas, means that research findings are now more likely to influence decision makers where methods are grounded in – or are presented in such a manner that they appear to be grounded in – traditional positivist hypothetico-deductive methods. This is a significant challenge to qualitative researchers working with an interpretivist epistemology. A second trend concerns the growing influence of process-theoretical perspectives, in which contextual and temporal factors are key to the development of explanations. The third concerns the rich methodological inventiveness which organizational research increasingly displays, particularly in its use of non-traditional data sources. The benefits from using innovative methods are explored. The term research means, literally, to look again, and applies to the topics, problems, and questions of interest to organizational researchers. But we must also continue to look again at the research methods that we use, and to adopt innovative approaches in that domain as well.


Burkhard Schäffer

Triangulation in der erwachsenenpädagogischen Organisationsforschung. Die Relationierung von ‚gezählter’ und ‚erzählter’ Organisation zwischen Metaphorik und Stochastik

The article discusses triangulation in organisational research in the area of adult education against the background of the difference of ‚counting‘ and ‚narrating ‘, i.e. measurement and interpretation. It analyses whether and how the ‚counted‘ and the ‚narrated organisation‘ are related to each other. As a central problem the metaphorical and vague quality of language occurs. In quantitative standardized approaches this problem is dealt with by applying statistical and stochastical means. Qualitative-reconstructive methods work on it by drawing on hermeneutics in a broader sense.


Marianne Döös, Peter E. Johansson & Tomas Backström

Making People’s Work-Integrated Relations Visible. Useable Organisational Images for Managerial Enabling of Change

This paper examines the potential contribution of organisation images where there is a need to understand and lead change. It is theoretically based on the dual assumption that leaders and co-workers learn when carrying out their work tasks, and that they act and make decisions according to their own conceptions. Intended change and development in organisations are as necessary as they are challenging. The paper aims to advance the idea of understanding organisational images as potential practical and pedagogical tools for informal change. Therefore, the paper discusses qualities of different types of organisation images in terms of their potential contribution to intended informal change, and how these images may provide support in the leading and organising of learning and development in organisations. In addition to the usual organisational chart, the visualisations ‘organisational circle’ and ‘task network’ are displayed and discussed and suggested to aid the asking of new questions, which may qualify the understanding of organisational change.


Annabel Jenner

Inter-organisational cooperation as a ground for empirically exploring the linkage between individual and organisational learning

For organisations in the field of adult and continuing education it has become very common to be involved in inter-organisational cooperation. Accordingly, this development has been subject to organisational research from an adult educational perspective during recent years. Although cooperation is understood as a challenge at organisational level, it is highly dependent on the single person who is actually involved and cooperates representatively for his or her home organisation. Thus, this person is in a key situation when it comes to bringing along cooperative experiences from the external cooperation into the home organisation. The article draws on this specific situation. It is suggested that inter-organisational cooperation is suitable as an empirical setting for analysing the interplay between individual and organisational learning, reasoning that it becomes particularly apparent and empirically seizable in this context. This paper focuses on the leading question which potential inter-organisational cooperation offers for exploring the contribution of individual to organisational learning. After outlining the theoretical framework and describing the methodical approach, first empirical findings from an on-going qualitative research project are presented. They show how challenges and experiences that arise for the individual through cooperative activities are gradually brought into the home organisation and are processed at organisational level. These findings have an exemplary function in order to show and discuss the potential of inter-organisational cooperation for analysis regarding the contribution of individual to organisational learning.


Nicolas Engel

Organisationales Lernen als Übersetzung. Zur empirischen Genese eines organisationspädagogischen Theorieentwurfs

The paper discusses – in reference to practice theory and cultural theory – how organizational learning can be analyzed as translation. A translational perspective emphasizes the processuality and performativity of organizational learning and raises the question, how organizations transform proven knowledge into reprocessed knowledge. Apart from the organization as a subject of translation, this also puts different forms of organizational knowledge-creation into the focus of the consideration. With the help of three elements of a pedagogic translation perspective – contextuality, modality and adequacy of translation – an educational theory of organizational learning is designed. The illustrated draft of this theory is based on an ethnographic study on identity in cross-border organizations.


Klaus Schömann & Andreas Martin

Zur Relevanz regionaler und kommunaler Akteurskonstellationen für das Weiterbildungsverhalten

Governance of further education and training is more and more focused on smaller regional entities. Particularly regional and local communities appear to be suitable to regroup multiple actors of lifelong learning and attribute outcomes in form of aggregate performance indicators to their actions. Based on multilevel analyses, the paper addresses the research question to what extent it is feasible to attribute performance indicators of further training behavior to regional and local community actors. We ask to what extent we can trace back further training participation to regional contexts and which level has the strongest impact. The results show further training participation is especially determined at the individual level. The impact of regional contexts is highest at the level of local communities.