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Line manager involvement in learning and development: Small beer or big deal?

Gibb, S. (2003) Line manager involvement in learning and development: Small beer or big deal? Employee Relations, 25 (3). pp. 281-293. ISSN 0142-5455

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Abstract

Increasing line manager involvement in learning and development (L&D) at work is one important part of the broader changing relations between line managers and human resource management (HRM). The advantages of increasing line manager involvement in L&D at work are frequently highlighted. However, the disadvantages raise questions about the overall impact on L&D at work. Evidence about the practice of L&D at work depending on line manager involvement is limited. Instead of having an evidence base to evaluate it there is only scope to reflect more critically on the significance of the trend to line manager involvement in L&D at work in context. Two principal interpretations are possible; one that the trend is of minimal significance, the other that it is of much greater significance. Increasing line manager involvement in L&D at work is both part of the means of attaining, and one of the ends of, broader changes in work, organisation and HRM. The conclusion here is that there are legitimate concerns about shifting to increasing line manager involvement in L&D at work, where that prejudices the provision and use of specialist L&D at work resources. However, these concerns are outweighed by the greater concern to re-align work, organisation and management for an era where knowledge management is predominant. The issue of line manager involvement in L&D at work will continue to be an important part of the corporate and critical review agendas.