Shift in Learning Focus

Aims and Objectives

The aims and objectives of this essay are to map onto Pedler´s model the shift in focus of learning theories that have occurred over the same time period. I also intend to highlight the ways in which this focus has changed along with the reasons for these changes. In addition to this I intend to show what the implications of the changes in learning methods have on the employees, managers and the organisation as a whole.


The way that I will meet the aims and objectives of the organisation are to look at the different types of learning within an organisation. I will then look at the way in which Pedler´s model describes the development of an organisation from systematic training to a learning company. I aim to draw parallels between each stage of Pedler´s model and the three learning theories starting with behaviourist, leading to cognitive and then experimental. I will reflect how and why the focus of learning theories has changed over the last 40 years and the implications of these changes.


In order for success, employees of an organisation must learn the ways that it works so that the goals of the organisation are met and that they comply with the practice of the organisation. They also have to learn the objectives of their tasks. There are many different ways for the employees to learn and develop over time. Many employees learn skills and methods by observing the ways in which others work. Other methods of learning can take place in the way of training and development where employees undergo a series of programmes in order to improve the employee´s knowledge and skills. Many modern organisations use this method in order to improve the organisation´s chance of success.

Pedler´s Model

Pedler developed a model that highlights the development of the learning of organisations in United Kingdom between 1955 and present day. This model shows that organisations always face problems that can often be fixed, however these solutions tend to lead to other problems which are also in need of solutions and so on. It shows the change in the method of learning from systematic training to the learning company. This model can be seen below:

           Pedler et al 1991

It was apparent after the Second World War that companies in the United Kingdom were struggling with their productivity levels in relation to their American counterparts. It was concluded that the reason for this was due to a lack of skilled workers within the British workforce.

The solution to this problem was to introduce systematic training within the workforce in 1964. Systematic training involved full training through all the levels of the organisation; it also gave the workers a future vision of the organisation. The systematic training also gave the trainees a sense of involvement within the workplace.

Systematic training was a behaviourist approach to training. This means that the training involved developing employees´ and managers´ behaviour within the workplace.

It has been suggested through Watson´s 5 fundamental assumptions that “learning arose from the association between an external stimulus and a behavioural response.” This could be seen through the studies of Pavlov. Pavlov produced a theory called classical conditioning. He demonstrated that dogs instinctively salivate in reaction to food. Pavlov then discovered that if another stimulus was combined with the food, that the dogs would eventually salivate to the other stimulus (in this case it was the sound of a bell). Eventually Pavlov found that the dogs would salivate to the sound of a bell even if there was no food present.

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This highlights Watson´s view that there is an association between an external stimulus and a behavioural response, with the bells being the external stimulus and the salivation being the dog´s response. This shows that if you give the dogs something that they want, you will in turn get a return from them. It has been suggested that all behaviour learned by animals and humans is learned in the same ways.
The same formula was therefore used during systematic training when the workforce underwent systematic training (external stimulus), that the organisations would in turn gain an increase in production levels (behavioural response).


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