Agency at Work: Book published

The book Agency at Work, edited by Michael Goller andSusanna Paloniemi, has been published. It features two contributions from my side:

  • Harwood, J., & Froehlich, D. E. (2017). Proactive Feedback-Seeking, Teaching Performance, and Flourishing Amongst Teachers in an International Primary School. In M. Goller & S. Paloniemi (Eds.), Agency at work: An agentic perspective on professional learning and development (pp. 425–444). Cham: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-60943-0_21
  • Damşa, C. I., Froehlich, D. E., & Gegenfurtner, A. (2017). Reflections on Empirical and Methodological Accounts of Agency at Work. In M. Goller & S. Paloniemi (Eds.), Agency at work: An agentic perspective on professional learning and development (pp. 445–461). Cham: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-60943-0_22


Harwood, J., & Froehlich, D. E. (2017)

In this chapter, we consider teacher agency as an important concept amongst educators. We investigate individual agency in an educational setting in the form of workplace learning. Specifically, we argue that agentic, proactive feedback-seeking is an important way for teachers to engage in learning. Proactive feedback-seeking is hypothesised to improve both subjective teaching performance and general well-being in terms of flourishing. We present a case study of an international primary school located in Jakarta, Indonesia, that is based on both quantitative and qualitative data. The quantitative analyses revealed that there exists a positive relationship between proactive feedback-seeking and subjective teaching performance. No evidence was found for the hypothesised relationship between proactive feedback-seeking and flourishing in this study. Given these unexpected results, we turned to qualitative data to help better our understanding of the dynamics of proactive feedback-seeking in an educational setting. In the discussion, in which we integrate the results of both streams of research, we point out several contextual elements that most likely inhibited the relationship between proactive feedback-seeking and flourishing whilst providing a list of circumstances and conditions in which the positive relationship between proactive feedback-seeking and subjective teacher performance can be founded on. We then offer implications both for further research and teaching practice.

Damşa, C. I., Froehlich, D. E., & Gegenfurtner, A. (2017)

This chapter provides a reflective account of the studies in Part II of this volume, with a focus on discussing their empirical and methodological contributions to research on agency at work. Agency at work is a crucial component of how individuals engage with work and learning in a way that enables them to develop. Until recently, research on agency at work has had a distinct conceptual stance. These empirical chapters, therefore, provide an important contribution to the literature, by both employing different conceptualisations and examining agency at work in various contexts. In this chapter, we provide some descriptive and reflective accounts of the variety and nature of the empirical work and the methodologies employed based on a framework inspired by conceptual depictions of agency in the literature. Emirbayer and Mische’s (Am J Sociol 103(4):962–1023, 1998) framework that indicates three facets of agency—iterative, practical-evaluative, and projective—has been complemented by characteristics emerging from the analysed studies, indicating the relational versus transformative nature of agency at work. We engage in a discussion on the focus of these studies and operationalisations of agency, the units of analysis, analytical approaches and main findings. We then reflect upon the nature of agency at work and discuss the heterogeneity that is distinctly featured among the studies: Heterogeneity of terms of operationalisations and methodologies employed and also of findings considered defining for agency at work has stood out as an important characteristic of these empirical works. Based on this analysis and reflection, we delineate avenues that may drive the further consolidation of the field. Our reflective account highlights that the studies reviewed have provided an understanding of agency beyond disciplinary boundaries and beyond exclusively individual or collective actions. They reflect the complexity at the empirical level, where agency is expressed in heterogeneous ways and drives actions that trigger further learning processes.