Images of Outdoor Management Development.

Introduction Contents Abstract What is OMD? Methodology Conclusions Contact Me


On this page you'll find a summary of the main propositions which I found were put forward in the literature on Outdoor Management Development (OMD). This is drawn from the literature which is specifically on OMD. My review of this literature included 120 sources drawn from a period between 1981 to 1998. The first thing that is apparent in any review of the literature on OMD is the lack of homogeneity. Sources of information can be found in scattered sources, which are listed in full on a separate page.

If you're interested in searching for reference material specifically on the on Outdoor Management Development (OMD) a table containing 120 sources of information on OMD is included on a separate page. (For anyone interested in a complete list of all reference material I used for my PhD thesis I have also included a full list of the references on a separate page.)

To represent the assertions made by writers from this disparate mix of sources I presented them as `propositions'. There are 36 propositions listed below. Some are drawn from the findings of empirical research. Others are drawn from sources as diverse as newspaper reports and television programme. Many seem to collect around the experiences of individuals who have obviously had similar experiences in their contact with OMD. Others are contradictory and seem to present opposing views of OMD. I have included them all for you to have a look at.

Philip Donnison

October 2000


Course Outcomes - OMD as a Means to an End.

Proposition 1: Broad purpose - OMD courses can be used to achieve a broad range of outcomes.

Proposition 2: Specific purpose - OMD courses achieve training aims or objectives concerned with the development of the individual or team attending the course.

Proposition 3: Effect on the organisation - OMD courses have an effect on performance at an organisational level

Relevance to the Workplace

Proposition 4: Lack of relevance - The activities and environment of an outdoor course lack relevance to most peoples' work environment.

Proposition 5: Novelty - The novelty of the outdoor environment and OMD courses activities allows participants to operate outside the norms of behaviour of their usual environment.

Proposition 6: Relevance - Paradoxically, the lack of relevance of the activities and the environment on OMD courses, renders the group processes and interpersonal behaviours highly visible and achieves a high degree of “participant reality” (relevance to the workplace).

Proposition 7: Metaphoric connection - The processes and behaviours on an OMD course are identical in form even though they are completely different in content (i.e. the activities and the environment). In serving as metaphors to the workplace the connection between the two is `isomorphic'.

Proposition 8: Maintenance of learning - The longevity of the effects of an OMD course once back at work rely on taking account of aspects of the work environment.

OMD as Experiential Learning

Proposition 9: Involvement - The active involvement of participants on OMD courses promotes learning.

Proposition 10: Affective outcomes - OMD courses have an effect at an affective level as well as intellectual understanding or skill level.

Proposition 11: Kolb learning cycle - The Kolb learning cycle is used to effect on OMD courses. It's four stages of experience, reflection, conceptualisation and experimentation are apparent on courses.

Proposition 12: Reviewing - Reviews, as a discussion or individual reflection, take place as a vital part of the learning cycle. They vary in intensity and may be supplemented by inputs.

Physical Involvement in the Outdoors

Proposition 13: Expectation of physical harm - The prospect of involvement in an OMD course engenders fears of physical hardship and danger.

Proposition 14: Perceived risks - Participant's fears and anxieties are based on their perceptions of the risks of a course rather than actual risks they encounter.

Proposition 15: Overcoming self - imposed limitations. - OMD courses present participants with an opportunity to overcome apparently insurmountable physical challenges to discover they can achieve things they didn't think possible, overcoming self - imposed limitations.

Proposition 16: Activities as a means to an end - Physical activities on OMD courses are a means to an end, achieving the learning objectives. Activities are chosen to present participants with the appropriate level of challenge.

Proposition 17:Choice - Giving participants the choice not to take part in activities will allay their concerns about physical dangers and encourage them to take on challenging activities.

Proposition 18: Expectation of psychological harm - The prospect of involvement in an OMD course engenders anxiety about the trainer's behaviour, brutal and bullying behaviour is anticipated.

Doing activities in the Outdoors.

Proposition 19: Implicit value of the outdoors - The experience of being in the outdoors is, by itself, of benefit and can have an effect on self - awareness.

Proposition 20: Learning from success/failure - Participants learn from their involvement in activities regardless of whether they achieve success in the activities if the activities are not competitive.

Evaluation Practices on Outdoor Courses

Proposition 21: Levels of evaluation - There are numerous instances of the practice of evaluating OMD courses at Kirkpatrick's `reaction' level, but an absence of any evaluation at `results' level.

Research Studies into OMD courses

Proposition 22: No effects - An OMD team development course has no significant effect on perceptions of team effectiveness and personal development (Ibbetson and Newell 1996)

Proposition 23: Team effectiveness - An OMD team development course produces significant positive changes in perceptions of team effectiveness (Bronson et al 1992)

Proposition 24: Group skills - An OMD team - building course produces improvements in group process and interaction skills. (Wagner and Roland 1992)

Proposition 25: Team skills - An OMD team - building course produces increases in the skills of `seeking and listening to the views and ideas of other team members' (McSherry and Taylor 1994)

Proposition 26: Self - esteem - An OMD personal development course produces changes in self - esteem, but not increased self awareness, enhanced ability to learn or increased usage of `openness' behaviours (Lucas 1992)

Proposition 27: Generalisation - The results of evaluation research into OMD courses cannot be applied from one course to another with any degree of confidence.

Proposition 28: Development of specific skills - Specific activities on an OMD course develop particular competences or skills.

Proposition 29: Self - perception - An OMD course produces changes in self - efficacy, a person's perception of his/her ability to carry out a specific task

Role of the Trainer

Proposition 30. Trainer's role - The trainer or facilitator's skill and behaviour has a significant effect on the successful outcome of an OMD course.

Findings from Qualitative Research

Proposition 31: Cooperation - OMD courses do not achieve their stated aim of reducing competition between participants. (Burleston and Grint 1996)

Proposition 32: Lack of novelty - The environment on an OMD course does not contain an element of novelty. (Burleston and Grint 1996)

Proposition 33: Transparent Authenticity - The feedback from the consequences of one's actions is rationalised rather than immediate, open and honest. (Burleston and Grint 1996)

Proposition 34: Lack of emotional turbulence - Significant development is not necessarily accompanied by emotional turbulence. (Greenaway 1995)

Proposition 35: Accidental learning - Key learning experiences tended to happen more by accident than by design. (Greenaway 1995)

Proposition 36: Learning: contributory factors - Powerful learning experiences seemed to result from a combination of general factors such as; a positive and open orientation towards learning, a high level of involvement and responsibility, a varied and eventful programme and strong group support for risk taking. (Greenaway 1995)

Introduction Contents Abstract What is OMD? Methodology Conclusions Contact Me