Can learning save the sandcastle? A case study of facilitating change at an Australian manufacturing facility

Harvey, C 2007, Can learning save the sandcastle? A case study of facilitating change at an Australian manufacturing facility, Masters by Research, Education, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Can learning save the sandcastle? A case study of facilitating change at an Australian manufacturing facility
Author(s) Harvey, C
Year 2007
Abstract The focus of this work-based action research project was attempts to change practice in an Australian manufacturing facility. The setting is a medium sized light manufacturing operation responding to the new commercial realities of the globalised and deregulated Australian marketplace. The analogy of a sandcastle facing the rising tide is used to assist the reader associate with the destructive threat that globalisation brings to Australian manufacturing.

In an attempt to maintain profitability amidst unprecedented competition, the organisation has published a manufacturing improvement strategy designed to raise productivity and assure its future viability. Consistent with the objectives of this strategy, the project examines processes for changing practice within the organisation. Specifically, the project aimed to implement change using the Global Manufacturing Strategy as a guide, to increase the capacity of the managers who were accountable for the implementation of the Strategy. to improve the productivity and profitability of the company and to make a contribution to professional knowledge, in particular, the way that change is facilitated in an Australian manufacturing setting.

Set within this local context, constructionist-learning techniques are implemented and their effectiveness assessed. The influence of power relationships on practice are analysed from data derived through workplace conversations and questionnaires.

The paper concludes that under the threat of job losses, change in practice was limited. Manager-researcher role tension and the associated knowledge, power, time and ethical conflicts impacted the processes of collaborative learning and the rate of change in practice. It is suggested that collaborative change may be limited to situations where there are tangible benefits for all parties. As the profitability squeeze continues to slowly and relentlessly tighten, a depressing outlook is envisaged for those employed at the factory.
Degree Masters by Research
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Education
Keyword(s) Workplace learning
Australian manufacturing
practitioner research
collaborative change
change through learning
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Created: Thu, 17 Feb 2011, 08:35:40 EST
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