Virkeligheden i spil: om rollespil som læringsredskab i organisationer

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Mathilde Heiberg Sørensen
  • Mette Fonager
4. term, Communication, Master (Master Programme)
Role play as a learning tool in organizations is the core of this Master’s thesis. The phenomenon is not a new one; but the implementtation of role play and games of social creation in organizations is a newer tendency within the domain of learning in organizations. Role play is situated in and operates between the fields of free play and rule-based games, and therefore role playing contains interesting aspects when connected to situations of learning. In this thesis, we have constructed a theoretical framework which is a starting point for development, analysis and evaluation of role playing as a method of learning in a specific organization. This framework is compiled from a phenomenological social constructionist point of view, including learning theory of Gregory Bateson and theories about role play as learning tool. Based on this framework, we consider role playing a simulated situation which makes it possible to operate within complex organizational dilemmas. The unique aspect of role playing as a tool of learning is the change of perspective from the everyday context of the organization to a fictional context. This change of perspective makes it possible for the participants to reflect on situations of learning. Bateson’s theory of learning begins with the social interaction of the individual. A core part of his theory of learning is the element of recognizable contexts, and the notion that it is possible to transfer learning from one context to another. This supports our claim that the acquired knowledge of our participants in a fictional role play can be transferred to an everyday context. Furthermore, we apply Bateson’s categories of learning, because they enable us to define the nature of the learning acquired by the participants. The full benefit of this theoretical framework is that it enables us to focus both on role playing as a method of learning and on the learning taking place in the interacting individual. Based on this framework, we have developed a unique, progressive role play in a seminar for leaders of Viborg Kommune. This is divided into three phases: Introduction, Simulation, and Reflection. The role play took place as a simulated staff meeting with an accompanying fictional context, a character identification module and props. Working with the theme “The dilemma of the holiday”, the leaders had to play the roles as either a leader, a staff member or an observer. The role play were to function as an experimental practice ground for the participants taking the leader’s role. The participants playing the staff members got the possibility to practice a change of perspectives from their daily role as the leader to the role as a staff member. The characteristic of “The dilemma of the holiday” is the skill-developing role play, including the learning goals which reflected aspects of the organizational daily context. Our role play created a frame for learning, and within this frame we have analyzed the learning process of some of the participants. The core of the analysis is empirical data, from where we analyze the interactions and statements of participants based on our theoretical framework. The findings of this analysis showed us that our role play had a potential for learning. The conscious learning became visible though the statements of the participants in the phase of reflection. There were also possi-bilities for unconscious learning. The process of learning influenced the specific role played by the participant in the role play. Based on this thesis we believe that role play as a learning tool is suitable for an organizational context, but that certain aspects are important for its potentiality for learning. The contents of the role play have to be relevant for the individual member of the organization. In accordance with our theory, the capability of the participants to change perspective from the daily context into the context of fiction is an important aspect, because it increases the level of reflection after the role play. But our role play showed a potential learning for participants who didn’t make a consequent change of perspective. Role play as a method of learning in an organizational context is also connected with some challenges which have to do with the structures of power in the organization. These challenges are the core of our final discussion wherein we estimate the importance of consciousness about the existence of power in role play taking form as games of social creation in organizations. It’s important for the participants as well as for the consultants who facilitate it. In that case you can prevent the participants from ending up in a double bind situation.
Publication date2009
Number of pages136
Publishing institutionHumanistisk Informatik
ID: 17934547