On Sabbatical

The desk has been tidied and to do lists have been checked off because tomorrow begins my first ever sabbatical. For the next six months I will not be showing up at Maynooth’s School of Business to ply my trade.That is because have decided to take a sabbatical and pursue my research into the transfer of learning. But I won’t be doing this from an upstairs back room in my home in suburban Dublin. I’ll be setting off next Tuesday for the wonderful island of Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean (I know, tough gig). There I will be increasing my knowledge on how organisations manage (or fail to) the transfer of learning from training interventions back into application in the workplace. 

The purpose of a sabbatical is a mystery to most non academics. Some cynics regard it as an undeserved perk bestowed upon people who don’t do a full year’s work anyway. Others see it a pause for reflection, somewhat like a religious ‘sabbath’ where believers pause and reflect. In the academic sabbath, we reflect on our purpose and pursuits later to rejoin academia with a renewed vigour and new modes of thinking. More recently however, universities have become obsessed with outcomes. We are being managed much more like businesses so even our so-called ‘rest’ periods must now have outcomes. In my case I had to demonstrate to a sub-committee at NUIM that my research would have some tangible productive purpose. I’m not complaining, I come from the world of business and if I was back there I would rail against the thoughts of well paid academics pondering their existences for 6 months or more at a stretch. So I’m going to make sure that my sabbatical has real outcomes in the form of new knowledge, new data, and publications in the pipeline. I’ve lined up 2 key membership organisations to persuade local firms to help me and I have been welcomed by two local universities who will give me facilities if I need them.

This is the first of a series of blogs about my sabbatical. Each week or so I’ll be sharing how it going, the trials the tribulations and hopefully, the successes. I hope you will join me on this journey.

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About Paul Donovan

Paul Donovan is Principal Investigator at the School of Business, Maynooth University. He was previously Registrar and Head of Management Development at Irish Management Institute (IMI) specialising in Management Development. Before joining IMI he worked as a general operations manager with the Bord na Mona, the Irish Peat Development Authority. He was also Training and Development Manager of the Bord na Mona group. Paul has delivered executive development programmes in over 15 countries. He has written several peer reviewed articles, over 10 books in training and general management. He has contributed a column to HRD magazine for over 14 years. His research interest is the transfer of training. Paul holds a doctorate from Leicester University.
  • Tim Wray

    Eagerly anticipating insights on the real sabbatical experience! Enjoy Cyprus.