Action learning: ripples within and beyond the set

Robert Warwick, Adam Palmer, Janet McCray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose – To explore the impact of action learning on an individual and an organisation, particularlythe process by which each affected the other. The organisation is a UK National Health Service (NHS) Trust that includes two hospitals.Design/methodology/approach – This is a single person case study involving a clinician, but we also hear the voice of an author. It involves the experience of the individual as they experience action learning as part of a leadership development programme leading to a Post Graduate Certificate. We explain our caution of the case study approach and in doing so offer our thoughts in how this paper could be read and impact on practice.Findings – We show a process whereby an action learning set participant moves from beingconfident about their project to one of uncertainty as the impact of the project ripples throughout the organisation. Through this process of unsettlement, the individual’s unnoticed assumptions are explored in ways that enable practical action to be taken. In doing so the individual’s leadership and identity developed.Originality/value – This single case study contributes to the debate on critical action learning (CAL)and the use of action learning in the NHS.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLeadership in Health Services
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2017


  • critical action learning
  • action learning
  • leadership
  • assumptions
  • organisational impact
  • NHS
  • case study
  • confidence
  • unsettlement
  • clarity
  • power

Cite this

Warwick, R., Palmer, A., & McCray, J. (2017). Action learning: ripples within and beyond the set. Leadership in Health Services, 30(2).