John Dewey and continuing management education: problem-based learning for organizational sustainability

Anja Overgaard Thomassen*, Kenneth Mølbjerg Jørgensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to discuss how Dewey’s notions of experience, inquiry and reflection can increase managers’ capacity to cope with sustainability transitions. Design/methodology/approach: Problem-based learning is discussed as an approach for enabling sustainable management learning. Dewey’s concepts of experience, inquiry and reflection are used to conceptualize learning as an iterative “self-corrective” learning process toward sustainability. Two public managers’ experiences of a personal development module in a management education program are used to discuss how Dewey’s concepts work to integrate practice and theory. Findings: Dewey’s problem-based learning framework has the potential to increase managers’ capability to cope with complex and multifaceted challenges such as sustainability because of its focus on problem-solving. Practical implications: Management is a social practice. Management education can support management learning if management is perceived as a practice. Originality/value: Sustainable management learning is presented as an iterative and gradual learning process aimed toward settled inquiry that emerges when sustainable solutions work satisfactory in relation to the multiple and contradictory forces, which are in play in real-life situations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Workplace Learning
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)229-242
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Dewey
  • Experience
  • Inquiry
  • Management education
  • Problem-based learning
  • Sustainability


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