The Influence of Collective Agency on the Culture of Employee Learning:
The Case of Administrative Assistants at a Comprehensive South African University
This study investigated the influence of collective agency on the culture of employee learning among administrative assistants at a comprehensive South African university. Data were gathered through semi-structured interviews with 15 participants; the senior human resource training and development coordinator and a trade union leader. The study found that there is positive intentionality in the official domain of employee learning at the institution, resulting from the need for agents to collectively re-contextualise the knowledge constituting the employee learning curriculum. Similarly, there was evidence of the positive influence of collect- -ive agency in the administrative assistants’ responses to institutional employee learning initiatives. However, some tensions were noted between senior management’s and administrative assistants’ exercise of collective agency in the practice of employee learning. This hampered alignment between the institution’s strategic intentions and the administrative assistants’ collective employee learning goals. Based on these findings, it is recommended that efforts can be made to promote congruence between management’s exercise of collective agency in the official re-contextualisation of the employee learning curriculum and the administrative assist- -tants’ collective responses to employee learning practices.
Key words: employee learning, administrative assistants, collective agency
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