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ABIS GlobalProjectsExperiential Learning

Experiential Learning

The financial, economic and also political crises of recent years illustrate that responsible leaders might be the most essential resource for successful and sustainable companies. Society needs managers, academic and business leaders with a wider horizon to solve the challenges we are facing.

Learning processes which follow the Experiential Learning approach are perceived as effective and powerful in this regard as they challenge customary worldviews and equips students with reflexive skills and insights. It is learning with all the senses, with hearts and hands so to say; not only educating managers but shaping responsible leaders.


ABIS held its first Experiential Learning Congress in November 2010 at ESTM Berlin. The main question addressed at the congress was how contemporary management education employs Experiential Learning to improve management development and executive education.

The objective of the congress was to explore current experiential learning initiatives, its importance for management education and the relevance for companies aiming to develop and leverage the potential of their employees and leaders.

After this first successful congress many scholars and practitioners expressed their wish to continue the rich exchange of ideas, methods and knowledge in the field. ABIS took this as a mandate to organize a second Experiential Learning Congress, taking place in April 2012 at ESCP Europe in Paris, focusing on the interdependency of learning and experience.

For both congresses, ABIS reached well beyond its core constituency. Besides journalists, coaches, facilitators, trainers and other leadership development professionals, many non-member institutions from academics, business and civil society organizations attended.


Through the two congresses on Experiential Learning, ABIS emphasized the importance of Experiential Learning is an inter-disciplinary approach based in management, education and psychology suggesting a holistic approach to learning and to fostering responsible leadership.

Output: The insights shared during the congresses has been captured in two Special Issues of the Journal for Management Development; JMD, Vol. 31, No. 3, 2012 and JMD, Vol. 33, No. 5, 2014 respectively. Both issues have been edited by ABIS adding thus to the body of knowledge in both theory and practice.

Outcome: It is one of ABIS key missions to mainstream sustainability into business theory and practice. In terms of teaching at business schools, the focus in past years has been on problem-solving skills rather than critical analysis and understanding of long-term consequences; on local and immediate applicability instead of reflecting more broadly on a complex set of factors. Through the congresses, ABIS has demonstrated that Experiential Learning is possibly one of the best educational approaches to allow for reflective practice and experience thus enabling managers and management students not only to thrive in an environment of complexity and ambiguity but foster long-term responsible leadership development. 

Members Involved

  • ESTM Berlin – Host of the 2010 Experiential Learning Congress
  • Agentur Mehrwert – Co-organiser of the 2010 Experiential Learning Congress
  • ECSP Europe – Host of the 2012 Experiential Learning Congress


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