The Social Life of Learning Theory: The “Ideal” and “Real” of Reflective Learning

Helene Ratner

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


There is a growing understanding that public institutions need to be proactive in not only developing their welfare services but doing so continually through various concepts of learning. This article presents an ethnographic study of a public school that aims at working strategically with organizational learning through Donald Schön's concept of “the reflective practitioner.” Schön's concepts provide the school manager with a vocabulary to criticize the destructive effects of New Public Management's linear steering technologies. The study also illustrates that expectations of reflective practitioners produce new uncertainties and managerial challenges, especially in manager-employee relations. The implications of these are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Public Administration
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)200-209
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


  • Reflection
  • Learning Organization
  • Actor\-network Theory
  • Practice

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