Action Learning for Developing Leaders and Organizations: Principles, Strategies, and Cases

Pages: 313
Item #: 4316111
ISBN: 978-1-4338-0435-9
List Price: $29.95
Member/Affiliate Price: $24.95
Copyright: 2009
Format: Hardcover
Availability: In Stock
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For individuals in the U.S. & U.S. territories


Today's rapidly changing and globally competitive business environment mandates that 21st century leaders develop new models and innovative learning processes of organizational leadership. To meet these shifting needs, Action Learning has emerged as a key training and problem-solving tool for companies as diverse as Nokia, Samsung, Boeing, GE, Motorola, Marriott, General Motors, Deutsche Bank, and British Airways. These and hundreds of other companies around the world now employ Action Learning for strategic planning to develop managers, identify competitive advantages, reduce operating costs, and create high-performing teams.

What exactly is Action Learning? Simply described, it is a dynamic process that involves a small group of people solving real organizational problems, while focusing on how their learning can benefit individuals, groups, and the larger organization. The emphasis on learning is what makes this process strategic rather than tactical in equipping leaders to more effectively respond to change.

This book demonstrates how Action Learning can quickly and effectively be introduced, implemented, and sustained in any type or size of organization using six key components:

  • a diverse group of 4 to 8 members;
  • an urgent task or problem;
  • a question-driven communication process;
  • implementation of action strategies;
  • a commitment to learning; and
  • an Action Learning team coach.

The book features useful business case examples that illustrate the power of Action Learning in successfully developing leaders, solving problems, building teams, and transforming organizations. Recent developments that include skilled coaching and question-based dialogue make it an even more powerful tool in leadership and organizational development.

Table of Contents



I. Foundations of Action Learning

  1. Leadership and Organizational Change in the 21st Century
  2. Fundamentals of Action Learning and How It Works
  3. The Interdisciplinary Foundations for Action Learning
  4. The Power of Action Learning to Develop Leaders and Learning Organizations
  5. Asking Questions to Promote Reflection and Learning Throughout the Action Learning Team's Life Cycle

II. Implementing Action Learning

  1. Developing and Changing Organizations Through Action Learning
  2. Embedding Action Learning in the Organization
  3. Integrating Action Learning Within Larger Developmental Programs
  4. Application of Action Learning Principles in Other Development Processes

III. Best Practices From the Present to the Future

  1. The Evidence for the Effectiveness of Action Learning
  2. Best Practices in Planning and Implementing Action Learning Programs
  3. Action Learning From the Future



About the Authors

Author Bios

Michael J. Marquardt, EdD, is known throughout the world for his knowledge and expertise regarding Action Learning and learning organizations. In addition to authoring 20 books, 4 on Action Learning, Dr. Marquardt has introduced Action Learning to thousands of leaders and hundreds of organizations around the world since 1995, including Marriott, DuPont, Alcoa, Boeing, Caterpillar, United Nations Development Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, IBM, Nokia, Constellation, Samsung, Hong Kong Transit, and Siemens as well as government agencies in Singapore, Mauritius, Japan, Canada, Qatar, China, Korea, and Brazil.

Currently a professor of human resource development and international affairs at George Washington University, Dr. Marquardt has held a number of senior management, training, and marketing positions with organizations such as Grolier, Association Management Inc., Overseas Education Fund, TradeTec, and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. his achievements and leadership have been recognized though numerous awards, including the International Practitioner of the Year Award from the American Society for Training and Development.

H. Skipton Leonard, PhD, trained as a social and organizational psychologist. Dr. Leonard has devoted his career to helping individuals, teams, and organizations achieve their goals and accomplish their missions by learning how to be more adaptive, creative, and innovative. A noted authority on leadership and team development, he has coached and trained thousands of executives, managers, and professionals and their teams.

Dr. Leonard's consulting clients have included Microsoft, Dell, HP, Boeing, Chrysler, Bechtel, AllState, United Services Automobile Association, American Express, Bank of America, Shell, AstraZenica, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and U.S. government organizations such as the Army, the Postal Service, the General Services Administration, the Department of Agriculture, and the Government Accountability Office.

A leader in his field, Dr. Leonard is the author of 3 books and over 50 articles in refereed journals, is a fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), and past present of the Society of Consulting Psychology. He was also the founding editor of an APA-published journal, Consulting Psychology Journal.

In addition to his role as executive director for the World Institute for Action Learning, Dr. Leonard is currently on the faculties of the Carey School of Business at Johns Hopkins University and the School of Human and Organizational Learning at George Washington University.

Arthur M. Freedman, MBA, PhD, is a principal in Freedman, Leonard & Marquardt Consultancy and chair of the research committee for the nonprofit World Institute for Action Learning. He earned both his BS and his MBA at Boston University's College of Business Administration and his PhD in personality and clinical psychology at the University of Chicago. He has been a member of the NTL Institute since 1969.

Dr. Freedman is a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania. He has consulted throughout North America as well as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Serbia, Sweden, Germany, Russia (and the former Soviet Union), Vietnam, Singapore, and Zimbabwe. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association's (APA's) Division 13 (Society of Consulting Psychology) and a fellow of APA's Division 52 (International Psychology). He is a past president of the Society of Psychologists in Management. Dr. Freedman is a member of the Board of Advisors for the National Hispanic Institute and cofounder of the Nieto–Freedman Center for Organization and Community Development. He is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science and the Consulting Psychology Journal.

Dr. Freedman received the RHR International Award for Excellence in Consulting Psychology from APA's Division 13 in 1994. He received the Most Outstanding Article award from the editorial board of the Consulting Psychology Journal in 1998, for his article "Pathways and Crossroads to Institutional Leadership." In 2007, he received the Harry and Miriam Levinson Award for Exceptional Contributions to Consulting Organizational Psychology.

Claudia C. Hill is an executive consultant and the director of Action Learning at Personnel Decisions International (PDI), where she is responsible for design, development, and global delivery of a variety of leadership development learning systems. Ms. Hill's area of special expertise is experiential learning. She has led and designed Action Learning or simulation-based programs for organizations around the globe. She has 28 years of experience in the design, delivery, and evaluation of strategic performance improvement interventions to her client interactions.

Ms. Hill is the author of PDI's Active Leader Workshop, which features a unique large-scale business simulation. In her leadership role, she has delivered the program in 20 countries and trained delivery teams who offer the workshop globally. An active researcher in the world of Action Learning, Ms. Hill is currently a board member for the World Institute of Action Learning. Her publications explore theory building for global virtual teams, simulation-enhanced learning, and Action Learning-leadership development systems. She was the lead author of A Consultant's Guide to Action Learning (2006, PDI).

Ms. Hill has served as a keynote speaker at international conferences focusing on Action Learning. She has a BA in economics and statistical analysis, and is a PhD candidate in the University of Minnesota program for human resource development.

Reviews & Awards
Marquardt et al offer a well-rounded approach to AL with a balance between theory, background, and real-world use, giving voice to both the action and the learning.
—Training + Development