Agility and Learning in Organisations



Prof Dr Tony Wall, University of Chester, UK
[email protected]


Special Issue Guest Editors

Dr Lisa Rowe, University of Chester, UK  
[email protected]

Dr Cheryl Brook, University of Portsmouth, UK 
[email protected]

Christine Abbott, Centre for Action Learning Facilitation, York, UK 
[email protected]


This call for papers examines how work-based learning, action learning, and organisational development methods are delivering against the ever increasing need for organisational agility, flexibility, and ambidexterity. It seeks to document the diversity of ways these work-applied approaches are effectively curated across different levels of an organisation for its ongoing learning, development, and adaptation. It responds directly by exploring how the “megatrends”; technological hyperconnectivity, urbanisation, geopolitical tensions, economic recovery and global climate policy, have been further exacerbated by the aftershocks of the pandemic (Jawad, 2014; Deloitte, 2017; Price Waterhouse Cooper, 2021).

In recent years, the trend for employer informed curricula and employee training has moved to the forefront of HRM policy, subsequently shifting the focus for interventions away from traditional learning and development toward additional expectations upon individual managers, leaders and their personal supervisory practice. At the same time, generational interplay is becoming more pronounced as millennials become managers and the digital natives of Generation Z join the workforce. More recently, the notion of coaching and mentoring from the middle to create a coaching culture across the organisation has been extended with the latest senior leader apprenticeship requiring formal evidence of applied coaching and mentoring techniques (IfATE, 2021).

Tensions have arisen around the growing tendency toward loose definitions of roles and responsibilities for developing self and others exposes challenges for providers of work-based learning – who is responsible for it and where and when has the learning taken place and who can validate it? Notwithstanding the extant difficulties around the validation of work-based learning, the accelerated move toward less tangible skills and behaviours is creating a tightrope for balancing the relentless demand for competence currency and academic theory, juxtaposed with the locus of responsibility of individuals at all levels within organisations, collectively requiring enhanced agility and a collaborative sense of purpose  (Shapiro, 2009; Cappelli and Tavis, 2018; Harsch and Festing, 2020). 

Within this context, policy instruments such as apprenticeship have compounded additional layers of complexity to work-based learning and organisational development approaches. The increasing multiplexity of work-based and workplace learning requirements is manifesting itself in a number of ways, for example the growing mental health crisis, and increasing the need for applied learning around diversity, equality, and broader notions of sustainability at work. Each of these contribute toward the need for organisations to constantly adapt and be agile.

The aim of this special issue is to curate cutting edge research and practice that demonstrate how individual, team, and organisational level learning is connected through work-applied methods to generate organisational agility, flexibility, or ambidexterity. Papers considering practice across the public, private and community sectors, across all academic disciplines, and across countries, are especially encouraged. We welcome creative and unorthodox approaches and are calling for articles which may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • How is work-based learning or other applied-learning methods used to generate organisational agility, flexibility, or ambidexterity?
  • How is coaching from the middle being used to generate organisational agility, flexibility, or ambidexterity?
  • Measuring the effectiveness of work-based learning or action learning in generating new dynamic capacities?
  • How are multi-generational action-oriented methods being used to develop dynamic capabilities?
  • The above, across sectoral, cultural and multi-cultural contexts (especially the Global South).



  • Call for papers: March 2021
  • Submission deadline: Before 1st February 2022 at 5pm GMT
  • Final revisions due: June 2022
  • Expected publication: October 2022



Cappelli, P. and Tavis, A. (2018) HR goes agile. Harvard Business Review, 96(2), pp. 46– 52.

Deloitte (2017) Beyond the noise: The megatrends of tomorrow’s world. Center for the long view. Retrieved February 25, 2021 from

Harsch, K. and Festing, M. (2020) Dynamic talent management capabilities and organizational agility - a qualitative exploration. Human Resource Management, 59(1), pp. 43-61.

Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (2021) L7: Senior Leader (revision). Retrieved February 25, 2021 from

Jawad, I. (2014). World’s Top Global Mega Trends To 2025 and Implications to Business, Society and Cultures. Frost and Sullivan Megatrends. Retrieved February 25, 2021 from

Price Waterhouse Cooper (2021) Megatrends: 5 global shifts changing the way we live and do business. Retrieved February 25, 2021 from

Shapiro, H.T. (2009). A larger sense of purpose: Higher education and society. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.