Learning in and from projects: The learning modes and a learning capability model

Richard Kirkham, Terry Williams

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The practice of project management as a ‘business-as-usual’ function is now widely recognised in the management and organisational sciences literature; projects are the instruments of strategy delivery and thus their successful delivery is of significant importance to the organisation. The corollary is that a capability to generate learning from projects is equally important yet many organisations face significant challenges in doing so. In this paper we contribute to the theoretical landscape on organisational learning by identifying thirteen learning modes observed across a sample of case study organisations, the intention being to establish the desideratum for organisational learning in the context of project and programme delivery.

We reveal that mature organisations tend to exhibit a greater number of learning modes in contrast to organisations of lower maturity, and furthermore, that there is a tendency to capture and socialise knowledge with a greater emphasis on the context of the learning situation rather than the learning artefact in isolation. The empirical evidence gathered in this paper forms the basis of a capability model, characterised by the thirteen modes of learning. The model intimates that learning occurs, and is more effective, when knowledge and information are enacted in practice through the learning modes which form a nucleus of the organisational. The research concludes with a call to action that emphasises the strategic importance to improve learning practices in project oriented-organisations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalProduction Planning and Control
Early online date22 Nov 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Nov 2019


  • Learning, knowledge management, learning capability, modes of learning, dynamic capabilities, structuration, practice


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