Reflective vicarious learning (RVL) as an enhancement for action learning

Ann Yeadon-Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


A fundamental assumption within Action Learning is that learning only occurs through participation, reflection and action. Revans maintains that individuals will fail to understand the ‘how’ of an experience until they have experienced it for themselves i.e. ‘learned by doing’. This paper postulates that Revans’ second phase of action learning; the reflection phase can, in situations where participation is not possible, be enhanced through reflective vicarious learning (RVL) or learning from the behaviour of others.

Design, methodology and approach
This paper adopts a desk research approach review of literature.

Findings The authors maintain that Revans’ concept of ‘learning by doing’ in the context of the goldfish bowl exercise can enhance an individual’s insight through reflective vicarious learning or learning from the behaviour of others.

Research limitations/implications
The paper is limited in some respects as it focuses on the viewpoint of the author coupled with literature. Future research could explore participant voices to add an extra dimension to the work.

Practical implications
In terms of utility for others, this paper is useful for developing an understanding of the differing learning opportunities that Reflective Vicarious Learning and action learning combined can offer. As such, it has meaning for action learning facilitators, set members, academics and educational consultants.

This papers originality is that it seeks to enhance Revans’ proposition by illustrating how reflective vicarious learning (RVL) in the second phase of action learning can enhance an individual’s learning in situations where participation is not possible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-371
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Management Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2018


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