Improvisational Self-Directed Learning: Leveraging Psychological Capital and Exercising Human Agency

Improvisational Self-Directed Learning: Leveraging Psychological Capital and Exercising Human Agency

Sharon E. Norris (Spring Arbor University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5667-1.ch001
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Abstract

Developing the capacity to think quickly, take swift action, and do so with competency and character is necessary for success in today's complex and continually changing organizations. Improvisational self-directed learning is presented in this chapter to describe people who can solve novel and surprising problems, create value from fortuitous events, and take action without preplanning. The exercise of human agency, bolstered by strong psychological capital, which includes self-efficacy, hope, optimism, and resilience, is presented as the foundation for the development of improvisational self-directed learning.
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Introduction

Organizational life in the contemporary global marketplace is characterized by constant change and continual technological advancement, which requires new and improved ways to connect, communicate, and achieve organizational goals. In order to keep pace with these new opportunities, organizations need avid learners who thrive in dynamic environments. Developing the capacity to think and act quickly is important and doing so with competency and character is paramount. In other words, effective organizational professionals need to be proficient improvisational self-directed learners.

Improvisational self-directed learners are individuals who solve surprising problems, create value from unexpected opportunities, and take action with minimal forethought and without preplanning; their behaviors are tailored to specific contexts; and knowledge creation is idiosyncratic to a particular time and place (Boudreau & Robey, 2005). Improvisational self-directed learning is particularly important for success within organizational environments that are rapidly changing as a result of global competition, shifting expectations, increasing demands, and technological advancement. Improvisational self-directed learning builds upon prior learning and expertise while stimulating creative and innovative action. Improvisational self-directed learners possess strong psychological capital, exercise human agency, and contribute to the development of thriving learning communities. Improvisational self-directed learners draw from a broad repertoire of skills and flourish within positive, psychologically safe, organizational environments. In this chapter, improvisation is introduced along with psychological capital, including self-efficacy, hope, optimism, and resilience. The exercise of human agency, bolstered by strong psychological capital, is also presented as a foundation for self-directed improvisational learning.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Improvisational Learning: Learning that occurs through engagement in improvisational behaviors.

Psychological Capital: Positive and state-like characteristic including self-efficacy, hope, optimism, and resiliency.

Improvisation: A spontaneous and creative process used to achieve goals.

Self-Efficacy: Personal belief in one’s capacity to perform a task or achieve a goal.

Human Agency: The exercise of control over one’s thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors.

Hope: The willpower and the waypower drawn upon to achieve goals.

Resiliency: The capacity to bounce back after a setback while on the path toward goal attainment.

Optimism: The positive explanatory style that focuses on obstacles or problems as temporary and conditions as changeable.

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