Do Words Change Worlds?

MADE Student Project

In response to the challenges cities face due to changing urban dynamics like climate change, local institutions must adapt and evolve. This research qualitatively explores how to improve the learning capacity of civil servants at the municipality of Amsterdam to become more adaptable. By using podcasting as a research method, this research aims to provide insights into the perspectives of trainees and experts on transformative learning and adaptive expertise. These two concepts were divided into multiple dimensions that were analysed and measured to come to conclusions on the learning capacity of trainees and experts at the municipality of Amsterdam. The main findings are the municipality’s achievement-based focus hindering the overall mindset towards learning. With the pinnacle of this being that the time spent outside the work assignments, which can be used for learning purposes, is labeled as unproductive hours. By changing the way the municipality frames the hours outside of the assignment, the overall view on learning will change along with it. Moreover, most experts at the municipality mention that their supervisor or manager acts as their mentor, while at the same time they are responsible for assessing the work that is done. This creates an atmosphere that does not allow civil servants to be fully transparent on their personal struggles, in fear of a bad assessment. By offering a wider range of mentorship opportunities, the culture of mentoring will be improved. Lastly, a standout revelation is the role of traineeships in shaping the learning culture of the entire municipality. Traineeships provide structured self-reflection practices, cultivate an environment of openness and learning, and offer mentoring opportunities. These qualities set traineeships apart and suggest their potential to influence the broader municipality's learning landscape.

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