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Japanese Managers’ Experiences of Learning: What Individual and External Factors Affect Learning Dispositions of Japanese Managers?

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posted on 15.07.2019, 09:12 authored by Yuko Kimura
This thesis focuses on understanding the experiences of learning in life for managers in Japan. The thesis also explores the relevance of largely Western-derived theories for understanding managers’ learning in Japan. The subject is timely because the Japanese government is actively undertaking policy reforms to promote new directions in education and adult learning with the aim of transforming learning practices to meet the changing demands (MEXT, 2017a,b). Data was gathered using qualitative interviews with 20 managers who work or have worked in Japan. The findings reveal the critical role of an individual’s disposition as an essential basis for learning in the continuous process of interactivity with individual and social factors. Key dimensions of personal interactions, exposure to overseas culture, and career choices in schools, the workplace, and social communities are identified by each biography related to the learning experiences. It also shows the significant influence of the Japanese educational system, companies’ attachments to learning, opportunities for communities of practice, and female managers’ struggles. The results also show that Western-derived social theories of workplace and adult learning are becoming more applicable as the tacit style of gaining knowledge in Japan is becoming more Westernised. Non-Japanese managers’ perceptions of Japanese ways are aligned with the findings. This thesis has three key contributions. Theoretically, it promotes further understanding of the importance of individuals’ dispositions and biographies through the development of a model of influences on Japanese managers’ learning. This has important implications for attempts to promote learning within ongoing learning-related policy development. Examples of communities of practice in the results indicate the potential for the use of the theory of communities of practice in conjunction with Illeris’s (2004) model of learning in working life. The final contribution is the empirical exploration of these issues within a Japanese environment, which has been relatively under-explored.



Venter, Katharine; Bishop, Daniel

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School of Management

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University of Leicester

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