The role of interpretation in learning practices in the context of collaboration

Paul Hibbert, Frank Siedlok, Nic Beech

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    21 Citations (Scopus)


    Collaboration is used increasingly to solve complex management, research, and societal problems, but it presents particular learning challenges. The existing literature has developed theories of how practice learning occurs within bounded communities, typically through assimilation into an agreed set of meanings, skilled practices, and legitimated judgments (or taste). But less is known about the interpretive nature of learning during collaborations that cross community, organization, or disciplinary boundaries. Through a longitudinal, participant-observer study of a collaborative setting concerned with interdisciplinary research, we develop an understanding of the interpretive dynamics of learning in collaborative contexts. From these findings we develop insights on the outcomes associated with two interpretive modes of engagement—instrumental collaborative exchange and curiosity-driven dialogue—enacted through three learning practices: exploring limitations, developing connections, and developing shared interpretive horizons. We conclude that the consequences for learning can vary with the interpretive approach and articulate the implications for interpretation theory and management education that arise from this.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)26-44
    Number of pages19
    JournalAcademy of Management Learning & Education
    Issue number1
    Early online date4 Nov 2014
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


    • Collaboration
    • Interpretation
    • Learning
    • Philosophical hermeneutics


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