The importance of a “cause”: Understanding professional working and learning for innovation in the healthcare sector

4.15 to 5.45 pm, 11 April 2017, Room 790, UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL

Presenter: Professor Alison Fuller

There have been two broad and competing narratives about innovation, and its relationship with learning. The first conception shares a top-down, uni-directional understanding about the relationship between innovation and learning in which innovation is transferred from experts to employees in charge of its implementation, and learning is viewed as a process of acquisition in which knowledge is transferred from experts to learners (Sfard, 1998). This alignment generates a coherent understanding but one that is flawed. In contrast, a second narrative focuses on co-participation in work practices as the source of innovation and learning. In this view, many innovations emerge in reflexive relation to the problems and issues that arise in the workplace (Brown and Duguid 1991, Price et al 2012). These matters are addressed, usually below the radar, in order to ensure the effective delivery of services or products. Based on a single case study of the development of an innovative healthcare service for homeless people, we have explored over a two-year period in what way taking up a ‘cause’ (the cause of the homeless) can drive an emergent learning and innovation process resulting in a radical reconceptualization of homeless healthcare. Furthermore, the presentation explores in what ways forms of work organisation and practices at play in the homeless healthcare case have been designed, created and enacted to generate an innovative working and learning culture.

Alison Fuller is Pro-Director (Research and Development) at University College London Institute of Education and Professor of Vocational Education and Work. She has been researching, and publishing in the field of, education – work transitions, apprenticeship, vocational education and training (VET), and widening participation in higher education for 25 years.  Alison is currently a project leader in the ESRC funded research centre: Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies (LLAKES). She is  regularly called to give oral evidence to House of Commons and House of Lords Committees on vocational education and training, and apprenticeship matters. Her most recent article is: “Job Crafting and Identity in Low-Grade Work: How Hospital Porters Redefine the Value of their Work and Expertise” (2017) Vocations and Learning (with Lorna Unwin)Alison is a non-executive member of the Board of Trustees of Semta (the Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance).

The seminar is free to attend, but prior registration would be helpful: please contact  to book a place.