Facilitation of Value Creation in Professional Learning Networks

  •  Max Aangenendt    
  •  Ellen Sjoer    
  •  Christian Wallner    


Professional learning networks (PLN) in Higher Education represent new social configurations for networked workplaces in which education, research and innovation can be combined. Here academic staff engages with others outside of their everyday organisational community. This study identifies and conceptualizes essential behaviours that facilitators of professional learning networks use to promote value creation of various kinds.

The two-phase study started with an empirical field study on the value creation stories of 11 participants within 3 professional networks to investigate essential facilitator behaviours. A panel study including 30 researchers, lecturers and practitioners representing a wide range of learning and innovation networks, was conducted to validate and enrich the findings derived from the field study.

From the field study 54 facilitator behaviours were identified. The panel study raised 68 complementary statements on essential facilitator behaviours. Qualitative data analysis lead to five themes of facilitator behaviour. Facilitators’ contributions to value creation in networked workplace contexts can be understood as the interplay of five foci of facilitative behaviour: 1. relationship, 2. space, 3. ownership, 4. direction, 5. result. Findings concerning facilitator behaviours are synthesised in an conceptualisation of the process dynamic of value creation in networked workplaces: The Facilitator Compass.

This paper provides insight on what plays a major role in the success of professional networks: the way they are facilitated. While the role of a facilitator is acknowledged in literature and in practice, this study adds to the knowledge base by showing how academic staff can navigate for value creation in networked workplaces.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.