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Regular version of the site

Transformative Action Learning to be Featured at April Conference

Transformative action learning is a method widely used to equip leaders for the challenges they encounter in their organizations. In an upcoming honorary lecture and workshop as part of the XVII April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development, Robert Kramer, International Chair of Public Leadership at the National University of Public Service (Budapest, Hungary), will introduce audiences to the method. As he prepares to travel to Moscow for this year’s April Conference, Dr Kramer fondly recalled the story of how his collaboration with HSE began, shared a brief overview of what makes his method unique, and talked about his plans to set aside time to shop for rare first editions in Moscow’s bookstores.

— What led you to begin cooperating with HSE?

— Professor Alexey Barabashov attended a conference talk called ‘Leading change in complex times and hard places’ that I gave in Budapest in October 2015. His questions were so penetrating and precise that I thought to myself, ‘Here is an academic who knows far more about leading change than can be found in any textbook or journal article’.  Afterwards, we enjoyed a four-hour long (!) coffee break at the Art Deco Gellert Hotel, which has a stunning view overlooking the Danube River. I found that he is as funny as he is brilliant. We could not stop laughing ... and we were drinking nothing stronger than orange juice.  Alexey shattered all my stereotypes about Russians. So, I said to myself, ‘I have to go see Alexey in his native habitat.’ And, so... here I am.

— What kind of projects are you looking to develop between HSE and the National University of Public Service in Budapest? What kind of cooperation do you envision?

— I would like to partner with HSE on a joint, one-year certificate programme called ‘Leading Change in Complex Times and Hard Places’.  Later, we might consider extending the certificate programme to a two-year Master's degree.

— You plan to introduce and demonstrate transformative action learning at your workshop. What is unique about this method?

— It involves no classrooms, no training, no lectures, no PowerPoint slides, and no tests. A small group of top managers comes together for about two hours and practices coaching each other to pick apart their own most wicked problems.  They learn a lot about a problem, and, at the end of the session, commit to take action to address it, even if they don't fully understand it yet. In the process, their capacity for leading change in complex times and hard places is transformed.  So transformative action learning involves (1) learning, (2) taking action, and (3) transforming oneself, with the support of peers, to become a much more effective leader. 

— Where is this method currently being used around the world?

— I have introduced it in executive education and leader development programmes at universities like George Washington University and American University (both in Washington, DC), at the University of Potsdam in Germany, and in the US government, the European Commission and multinational companies such as Pfizer and Boeing. It works equally well in the private, non-profit and public sectors.

— What is the ideal audience to learn this method? Whom should we invite to your workshop?

— Top managers who feel swamped by their daily leadership challenges, and who feel that organizational life is making them swim in a state of ‘permanent white water’.

— Aside from the conference, how are you planning to spend your visit to Moscow this April?

— I collect antiquarian books, so I will be visiting all the bookshops in Moscow to find first editions of I. Konevskoi, N. Zabolotsky, V. Ivanov, Pushkin, Mayakovsky, Nabokov and Olesha.  Also ... Russian avante garde art from the early 20th century.  

Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for HSE News service


See also:

Russia’s Middle Class: Who Are Its Members and How Do They Spend Their Money?

The HSE Centre for Studies of Income and Living Standards studied the dynamics of the middle class and its behaviour with regard to paid services. The study was based on data drawn from the HSE Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS-HSE) for the years 2000 to 2017, and the results were presented at the 20th April International Academic Conference hosted by HSE.

Reproductive Evolution: How Birth Rates Are Changing in Post-Soviet Countries

Reproductive behavior is modernizing at different rates in post-Soviet countries. Things are changing faster in Russia, Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine, where, over the last fifteen years, the average maternity age has increased and the contribution of women in their thirties to their countries’ birthrates has grown. Meanwhile, old reproductive patterns persist in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, where firstborns are usually born to parents under 30, demographers Vladimir Kozlov and Konstantin Kazenin note in a paper delivered at HSE’s XX April International Academic Conference.

Live Long There and Prosper: How Internal Migration from Small Towns Works

More than half of school graduates in medium-sized Russian cities will change their place of residence either forever or at least for a long time. According a report on internal migration presented by HSE demographers at the XX April International Academic Conference, these people are lost to their cities.

What Drives Innovation in Russian Companies

As part of the Management session of the XX April International Conference, Carl F. Fey from Aalto University School of Business, Finland, presented his paper on Facilitating Innovation in Companies in Russia: The Role of Organizational Culture. In his talk, Professor Fey spoke about the results of three studies he has been conducting with his team.

‘In a Digital Environment, the Role of Human Teachers Only Becomes More Important’

How does digital technology affect the behavior and health of schoolchildren? What opportunities does it proved teachers and school administrators? These and other issues were discussed by participants in the plenary session ‘Children’s Wellbeing in the Digital Age’ at the XX April International Scientific Conference of HSE.

‘Statistics Should Be Available and Comprehensible to Everyone’

Implementing a digital analytical platform, opportunities for Big Data, and other prospects for the development of Russian statistics were discussed by participants at a plenary session of the XX April International Academic Conference.

Can Youth Bullying Ever Be Eradicated?

Dr. Dorothy Espelage (University of Florida) presented a comprehensive account of her research into youth bullying spanning more than two decades in an invited paper ‘Prevention & Intervention of Youth Bullying and other Forms of Youth Aggression: Research Informed Strategies’ at the XX April International Academic Conference.

‘To Achieve Our Goals, We Need to Involve a Wide Range of Universities in National Projects’

The role of regional and industrial institutions of higher education in achieving national development goals must increase, and leading universities will help them. This was the conclusion reached by participants of the plenary session on Russian higher education that took place as part of the XX April International Academic Conference.

How to Boost Russian Food Exports

The plenary session ‘Strategy of Russian Presence at Global Food Markets’ took place as part of HSE University’s XX April International Academic Conference, where participants discussed the prospects for Russian agricultural exports to Asia, as well as the use of nonconventional investment models, such as Islamic financial tools.

‘The President is Focused on Increasing the Birth Rate and Reducing Poverty by Half’

National objectives for social development, as well as existing risks and opportunities in implementing these objectives were discussed by participants of HSE International April Conference.