Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Resource Education and Workforce Development

First Advisor

Satish Verma


This qualitative study was designed to facilitate the description, analysis and utilization of continual learning within the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service (LCES). The research linked exploration of a learning culture within an organization with the reflective practice of participatory action research methodology. Learning organizations promote knowledge sharing that allows for individual learning to make the transition into collective organizational learning. In order for transformative learning to occur, individuals must reflect on their actions to make sense of an experience. Explaining and thinking about what one is doing makes tacit knowledge explicit, therefore able to be shared and used for change. In Louisiana, each parish (county) Extension office hosts a mid-level management position of Parish Chair who provides leadership and administrative support for the overall parish Extension office. This study focused on agents newly appointed to the position of Parish Chair. The primary purpose of the study was to describe and interpret the experiences of the Parish Chairs in learning their jobs. Parish Chairs statewide participated in collaborative professional development that built on their skills as reflective practitioners. Through individual interviews and focus group meetings, action research methodology enabled the Parish Chairs to systematically examine their learning through a cyclical process of examining their planning, actions, evaluation of those actions and making recommendations for further action. The findings suggested that in the LCES, management concepts and practices are essentially learned "on the job." Through the lens of the learning organization, Parish Chairs saw themselves as continual learners (knowledge producers) and identified situations of single and double loop learning. The results document examples of personal and organizational policies and practices that promoted or impeded a learning culture within the LCES, outlines implications of current organizational policies and offers recommendations for improved organizational learning.