What does the HR literature tell us about promoting reflective learning to improve performance?

Susan Greener

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


Purpose - This paper sets out to review the HR journal literature in relation to the promotion of reflective practice at work for performance improvement. The key questions here include whether educational institutions which are happy to promote reflection as a key improvement practice tool can justify the hyperbole and demonstrate practical benefits in the workplace from reflective practice, or whether talking about reflection, and assessing reflective practice belong more comfortably in domain of Higher Education and professional institutions' attempts at CPD. Design/methodology/approach - Three major subject-relevant online databases: EBSCOHost, Business Source Premier and Emerald were used, in addition to publisher databases, such as Wiley Interscience and Sage Premier, to search the academic HR, HRD, management development and management psychology literature over the last five years. High quality academic journals were the main focus for the review, including Human Resource Management, the International Journal of Human Resource Management, Human Resource Development Quarterly, Human Resource Management Review, the Journal of Human Resources and Personnel Review among others. Additional academic and professional literature found through these databases to relate to the promotion of reflective practice was also searched, to give a wider background context to the HR literature search. Findings - Articles which related to the topic of reflective practice were systematically reviewed for their key themes, warrant for claims, research methodology and practical recommendations. The HR literature is predominantly focussed on the teaching of reflective practice, mainly in educational institutions rather than practical strategies for promoting reflective practice in the workplace. There is nothing wrong with this as a legitimate and important objective; however if as academics we believe in the tremendous importance of reflective skills development, we should also be able to spot opportunities to develop practical reflective tools for performance improvement. Other literature as disparate as workplace learning, healthcare professions, project management and engineering offer alternate perspectives on practical approaches to reflection and its relevance to performance improvement. In particular, notions of coached, critical, facilitative and collective reflection were reviewed for their potential impact on promoting reflection as a performance improvement tool. Research limitations/implications - Only journal articles were reviewed, rather than published books in the field, although the legacy of Schön (1983) in particular is to be found widely in journal publications.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUFHRD Europe 2012
Place of Publicationonline
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2009
EventUFHRD Europe 2012 - Newcastle Business School, Newcastle, UK
Duration: 10 Jul 2009 → …


ConferenceUFHRD Europe 2012
Period10/07/09 → …


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