25 Feedback, Development, and Social Networks

Piet Van den Bossche, Sara Van Waes, and Janine van der Rijt


This chapter explores the idea that professional development is for a large part driven by discursive interactions with other persons. Specifically, we will look into feedback as a crucial aspect of these interactions. This interest in the social aspect of professional development correlates with a lot of current research that suggests that a majority of what people learn is learned informally on-the-job from the people with whom they work (Eraut, 2007; Tannenbaum et al., 2010). Given this social nature of learning in the workplace, the ways in which professionals actively form and use their interpersonal relations has become an increasing focus in the literature (Brueller & Carmelli, 2011; van der Rijt et al., 2013; Grant & Ashford, 2008; Hakkarainen et al., 2004). The perspective of social networks is forwarded to grasp the learning that takes place in interpersonal interactions. In this chapter, we provide an overview of research that touches upon the role of these social networks in professional development. In this way we also show the potential of social network methodology to understand the social nature of professional development in general and feedback processes specifically.

First, we will provide a reflection on the different strands of research and theoretical perspectives that have taken this “social turn” in the understanding of professional ...

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