Management development as learning within the Middle East public sector
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to suggest one approach to achieve a better connection between industry and academia. Some definitions of staff development, to better understand the complex process of learning in terms of a functionalist, performance improvement and self‐development perspective are outlined. Some operational dilemmas that face both the manager and educationalist are considered in terms of a need to deliver quality, productivity and cost effective goods and services. Design/methodology/approach – The topic examines the need to bridge the process of management and academic staff development such that both managers and academics can experience a common understanding of critical thinking. As both become more involved in complex activities that cannot be addressed by purely technical solutions a critical perspective is described that questions and examines the underlying assumptions, commonsense, taken for granted aspects of the working environment. This critical perspective provides a common arena and shared connection between industry and academia for mutual benefit, shared understanding and exploitable opportunities. Findings – The notion of single and double loop learning is proposed with the latter being considered as a successful way to address some of the common incompatible norms, structures and procedures encountered by both industry and academia. Learning is examined in terms of knowledge, research, theory and application. A critical perspective involving reflection, emancipation, the use of dialogue and the sharing of tensions and dilemmas is described that challenges the rational and prescriptive nature of what stands for much of industry and academic work. Practical implications – Practitioners involved in the staff development process will have an interest in such an approach. Originality/value – The critical learning theory described in this paper can be used to draw closer the management and education arenas in such a way that can ensure industry and academia are better informed and challenged.