Collaborative Learning

Gerlak, Andrea K., and Tanya Heikkila. "Building a theory of learning in collaboratives: Evidence from the Everglades Restoration Program." Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory (2011): muq089.
Many of society’s most vexing problems must be solved through collaborative arrangements. Growing scholarly interest in collaboratives recognizes that the capacity for collective
learning may play a critical role in their success. However, limited theoretical or empirical research exists to explain how learning occurs and the conditions that support learning in this context. In this article, we draw upon a wealth of literature, ranging from organization theory, policy process and change, and network analysis, to establish a framework of
collective learning to guide inquiry in learning in collaborative governance settings. We apply our learning framework to a study of learning in a collaborative ecosystem restoration program in the Florida Everglades. We use the framework to guide a study of how learning processes and products are linked within a collaborative using a case-based, inductive approach at two levels of analysis—the larger program level and the subcase level of a learning product case. Our multilevel analysis draws upon survey and interview data to examine how the framework helps diagnose the specific types of learning processes and products that emerge in this setting, as well as the factors that influence these learning processes. In doing so, the analysis illuminates theoretical propositions, not explained by the broader literature on collective learning, around the structural, social, and technological features of the collaborative, which may foster learning. To download paper, click here.
Heikkila, Tanya, and Andrea K. Gerlak. "Building a conceptual approach to collective learning: lessons for public policy scholars." Policy Studies Journal 41, no. 3 (2013): 484-512.

Abstract: In public policy processes, collective learning among policy actors is important in shaping how these processes unfold and the types of policy outcomes that may result. Despite a widespread interest in learning by policy scholars, researchers face a number of conceptual and theoretical challenges in studying learning across different collective settings within policy processes. In this article, we offer a theoretically grounded approach to defining and understanding collective-level learning. In defining learning, we first draw out the connection between learning processes and learning products, both cognitive and behavioral. In examining learning processes, we further explore the relationship between individual and collective learning. Then we identify and define the key characteristics of collective settings that will likely influence learning processes. We conclude by offering recommendations for policy scholars to apply this approach in studies of learning across diverse policy contexts. To download paper, click here.