When global meets local: Action learning, positionality and postcolonialism

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This paper explores changes in the positionality of Pakistani MBA students as they undergo an action learning (AL) intervention designed to encourage group reflection for the purpose of stimulating self-directed learning. Findings from this paper suggest that reflecting openly and challenging deep-seated beliefs in AL groups disrupts learner positionality, creating temporary misalignment with embodied cultural dispositions which shape social interactions and relationships. When applied in the context of Pakistani business schools, public reflection in AL groups creates dynamics resulting in three broad participant responses that trigger realignment with cultural norms: dissonance, aversion and ambivalence. As facilitators and educators, overlooking such responses to attempt empowering learners and encouraging self-direction can result in the unconscious reinforcement of power relationships that AL’s critical practice seeks to challenge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-85
JournalManagement Learning
Issue number1
Early online date17 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


  • action learning
  • positionality
  • group dynamics
  • culture
  • MBA education
  • Bourdieu
  • postcolonailism
  • Sustainability
  • north-south postcolonialism


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