Management education encompasses a broad range of philosophies, techniques, and topics concerned with helping managers become more effective in their job. Management education sometimes focuses on specific skills (e.g., negotiation, budgeting), general abilities (e.g., communication, planning), or personal development (e.g., leadership, handling stress).
The double-loop learning theory of Argyris is especially relevant to management education. According to this theory, individuals must learn to discriminate the difference between their perceptions or intentions and reality (espoused theory versus theory-in-use). Such learning takes place primarily through interaction with others. Because of the importance of human interaction in management, social learning theory (particularly modeling and role playing) provides a general framework for many aspects of management education. Coaching and mentoring are commonly used management development techniques that attempt to harness social learning in the workplace (e.g., Deegan, 1979; Rossett, 1990).
Theories of adult learning (e.g., Cross, Knowles, Rogers) that emphasize the importance of building upon the learner's experience are also very relevant to management education. The experiential theory of Kolb (1984) suggests that the learning cycle consists of four primary stages: concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. According to Kolb, individual differences in these stages give rise to learning styles.
The theoretical framework of action learning (Revans, 1980) has been widely applied to management education. Action learning involves structured projects in organizations rather than traditional classroom instruction. The key elements of action learning are: commitment to learning, social interaction, action plans, and assessing the results of actions.
Creativity, and problem-solving are usually considered important topics in management education (e.g., Roth, 1985). A major focus of DeBono's lateral thinking approach is to teach managers how to be more flexible in solving problems. Decision-making is also a critical skill domain for managers.
Deegan, A. (1979). Coaching. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Freedman, R.D., Cooper, C.L., & Stumpf, S.A. (1982). Management Education. New York: Wiley.
Kolb, D.A. (1984). Experiential Learning. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Revans, R. (1980). Action Learning. London: Blond & Briggs.
Rossett, A. (1990). Coaching. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.
Roth, W.F. (1985). Problem-Solving for Managers. New York: Praeger.
Taylor, B. & Lippitt, G. (1983). Management Development and Training Handbook. London: McGraw-Hill.
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