Original Research

Reflection as a strategy to improve management practice: Insights from management education

Linda Ronnie
Acta Commercii | Vol 16, No 1 | a392 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v16i1.392 | © 2016 Linda Ronnie | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 April 2016 | Published: 23 September 2016

About the author(s)

Linda Ronnie, Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Abstract

Orientation: This study examines the role of reflection as a learning strategy for management students and how this process can contribute to developing a cadre of useful and effective managers.
Research purpose: Using data from MBA student work, the aim of the study was to explore reflection as a pedagogical strategy to enhance management practice within an emerging market context.
Motivation for the study: The development of more rigorous, thoughtful and decision-focussed management is among the challenges facing organisations in South Africa. Within management education, reflection is seen as a potential strategy to address this issue.
Research approach, design and method: This qualitative study sampled 513 students’ reflective assignments. Students were given an individual task as a deliberate strategy to reflect on their own learning and provide insight on the benefits and challenges of the process. Coding was conducted along thematic lines.
Main findings: The findings showed that students gained self-awareness and insight into their own management and organisational practices. Their application of concepts, tools and techniques was also enhanced, as was their understanding of working with others.
Practical implications: Personal growth, transformation and development in terms of current and future management roles were all outcomes of the reflective process. Skills such as probing, analysing and synthesis – all essential to managers – are encouraged through a reflective mindset.
Contribution: The findings of this study indicated that a deeper understanding and improved clarity of management and organisational practices ensued as an outcome of the reflective process.

Keywords

Management practice; management education; reflection; student learning

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