Content uploaded by Ann Darwin
All content in this area was uploaded by Ann Darwin on Jun 19, 2015
Content may be subject to copyright.
CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON MENTORING IN WORK SETTINGS
ADULT EDUCATION QUARTERLY. Vol. 50 No. 3. May 20W 197-211
© 2000 American Association for Adult and Continuing Education
ANN DARWIN is the founder of the Management and Research Centre. South Australia, and has been its director since 1986. She has a
Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia. Canada, and has a background in business management, teaching, curriculum development,
and educational consultancy. She has been a senior manager within the public sector. a business owner, a researcher, and a national
management consultant. She wishes to acknowledge the contribution of Professor Roger Boshier. University of British Columbia, for his
support in conceptualizing this article.
Mentor ing is presentl y a t t he forefront of strategies to improve work place learning. However as is q/ten the case, functionalist models of
mentoring dominate, and as a result, research in mentoring is rather narrowly conceived. This article was d esigned to redress this
imbalance b y criti cally reflecting on mentoring from contrasting theoretical perspectives. Functionalist conceptions of mentoring
construct it as a rational and hierarchical process, often involving an older mentor and younger learner. In contrast, critical or Radical
Humanist conceptions highlight contests for meani ng but, more important, want to expose unequal a nd often exploitative power
rel ations. Many mentoring relationships undoubtedly involve high levels nurturance, but as this article demonstrates. taken-for-granted
practices need to be brought to the surface for mentoring to be regarded as a useful learning tool in today's work settings.
Most adults can identif y a person who had a significa nt influence on their learning and development. They come in many guises:
teachers, bosses, coworkers, and friends. Hence, mentoring has become a major preoccupation of popular media and educational discourse.
In George Lucas's Star Wars trilogy, Luke Skywalker is paired up with veteran Obi-Wan Kenobi, an experienced and supportive mentor,
Other well-known mentor-protege relationships include Ernest Hemingway's mentor, Gertrude Stein; Gail Sheehy claims Marga ret Mead
as her mentor, who in turn was inspired by Franz Boas. In the wor ld of adult education, Alle n Tough's mentor at the University of
Chica go was Cyril Houle .
For centuries, mentoring has been used as a vehicle for handing down knowledge, maintaining culture, supporting talent, and securing future
leadership. In pre-revolutionary China, the passing of the throne by the sovereign to a successor was known as Shan Jang stepping out of the
way. Mentoring flourished in the English feudal system as favored pages and squires became knights. The apprenticeship model was practiced
by the Guilds in Medieval times. During the Renaissance and Baroque periods, patron families supported talented artists. There has been a
strong reproductive element attached to mentoring, well suited to societies relying on ritualized behavior to protect the status quo.
Implicit in traditional mentoring practices are unchallenged assumptions about knowledge and powe r. Learning was a means of
trans mitting knowledge to pr oteges, and the mentor's primary role was to maint ain culture. The mentor was a protective teacher, guide,
or sponsor. This is not sur prising, as the etymological meaning of the term comes from the root men, which means to re member, think,
counsel. The word protege comes from the French verb, proteger, to protect. Thus, traditionally, the mentoring relationship has been
framed in a language of paternalism and dependency and stems from a power-dependent, hierarchical relationship, aimed at maintaining the
Most governments and many organizations consider continuous, on-the-job learning as necessary for all employees. The movement
toward competency-based training and education has brou ght ne w res ponsibilities for supervisors to pr ovide learning development
opportunities and career support to members of staff. Therefore, it will become increasingly important to know about mentoring
relationships. Althou gh the language of mentoring has largely been dominated by popular psychology or human resource development,
the presence of an adult learner and a teacher clearly locates it in an ideology of adult education. This has been demonstrated by Daloz (1986),
Merriam (1983), Stalker (1994), and even Knowles (1980) who emphasized the need to create an optimal climate of the kind usually deemed
necessary for mentoring.
Many organizations became interested in mentoring when research indicated it was linked to career success (Roche, 1979), personal growth
(Levinson, Darrow, Klein, Levinson, & McKee, 1978), leadership development (Zaleznik, 1977), and increased organizational productivity
(Zey, 1984). Work settings are far more complex than they were a few decades ago. Yet, what is known about mentoring is rooted in
assumptions developed as part of a surge of interest in the topic in the late 1970s. Researchers continue to confirm exclusive workplace
practices by restric ting studies to samples drawn from successful, high-achieving managers (Clawson, 1980; Kram, 1980). The shortage of
women in senior management positions excluded them from the most prominent early studies (Levinson et al., 1978; Roche, 1979). As many
studies built on earlier works, findings often are based on research condu cted on mainly male samples. Research suggests that women
devel op differentl y from men, thus raising qu estions about the appropria tene ss of anc horing me ntoring practices on research
conducted only with men (Baker-Miller, 199 1; Gilligan, 1982). In addition, much recent research has been directed more toward practice than to
theoretical and conceptual understandings of the mentoring phenomenon (Appelbaum, Ritchie, & Shapiro, 1994). A lack of conceptual clarity may
be due, in part, to ambiguity in definitions of the term mentor.
Workplace mentors were traditionally defined as older, powerful members of an organization who provided career and psychos ocial
support to a younger, less powerful person. Defin ition s today are often less restrictive. How mentoring is defined and used appears to
depend on one's point of view.
NEED FOR A MAP
There is much more to mentoring than givin g advice. Moreover , although mentori ng clearly involves adult learners, significant
chunks of literature about it a regenerated by people with little or no understanding of adult education. There is a contest between those who
construct mentoring within a functionalist perspective (where the task is to yield efficiency) and others who consider it a matter of social
justice. To understand what lies beneath this contest, a map is needed.
Social cartography is the process of mapping theory. This study was informed by Burrell and Morgan's (1979) mapping of organizational
theory but, more particularly, by Paulston's (1996) recent cartographies of education. Figure I shows Paulston's latest mapping of social theory
that buttresses education. Ben eath the overlapping circles are two axes. The horizontal axis concerns ontology, the essence of phenomena.
Researchers vary with respect to the extent that they think there is an objective reality out the re, extern al to the individual . On t he left side
of Paulston's model-on the horizontal axis-are the oretica l formulations wherein it is assumed that reality is subjectively constructed. On
the right are theories that assume an objectivist orien tation. Realit y exists outside the individual. The vertical axis concerns power and
self-interest. It a sks, Who benefits (from, e.g., mentoring relationships)? At the bottom of the vertical axis are theories that reinforce existing
power relations. At the top are the more critical formulations that challenge extant power relations. Think of this map like Microsoft Windows.
The horizontal and vertica l axes are opened f irst . Next, the two over lapping circles are laid down. Fina lly, the oret ica l formulations
(e.g., critical theory) are laid onto the map and an effort made to show their interrelationships. This yields four q uadrants. The zone at the
lower right-hand side of the map is concerned with functiona list perspectives (Mic has human capital and modernization theory). The
lower left identifies theories (such as phenomenography or ethnography) that can be charact erized as Inter pre tivist. Th e upper left zone
concerns Radi cal Humanist f ormulations ( suc h is critical or poststructuralist theory) and the upper right the Marxian or Radical
Structuralis t perspectives (such as those in historical materialism and dependency theories).
Contemporary workplaces pose problems for older notions of mentoring constructed from within a Functionalist frame of reference.
Although Interpretivist and Radical Humanist formulations have much to contribute, the purpose of this article is to compare and contrast
Functionalist with Radical Humanist notions of mentoring by deploying two corners of Paulston's map to analyze mentoring. With this in
mind, the first task is to consider the workplace of the future.
Figure 1. Social Cartography of Theory About Mentoring
Source. Paulston (1996)
WORKPLACE AT THE DAWN OF THE 21st CENTURY
Women and men employed in factories in 1899 would barely recognize today's workplace. Quite apart from the silencing of noisy
machinery and demise of smokestacks, mentoring is unlike that of yesteryear. Two major changes have influenced the way mentoring is
defined and used: advances in technology and all embrace of diversity.
As a result of information technology, computers and telecommunications have become faster and more affordable, enabling
organizations to produce goods and provide services with little requirement for human beings. Many organizations have re-engineered and
downsized, resulting in increased redundancies and flatter organizational structures. These changes have had an impact on the way work is
performed. More people are working part time and, in many cases, from their homes. This trend is like ly to continue, so that by 2001, less
than half the wor kforce in the industrial world will be in full-time employment, and work, as we currently know it, will come to an end
(Rifkin, 1995). Although not everyone agrees with these predictions, work settings will continue to be transformed by technology discoveries.
Consequently, old career development models have lost their potency as 1'ewcr organizations olli;r "onc job for lilc" in return for loyalty-
L'unhermore, this ctireer instability in cludes middle-age employees who find themselves having to rel earn and comp ete for j obs in an
open marketplace. They may be more vulnerable than younger people who ha ve been raised in an age of greater uncertainty, Mentoring
is now more likely perceived as an activity relevant to young and old alike,
These da ys many older workers are being encouraged into early retirement. Consequently, senior pe ople able to provide experienced
career advice are fewer, and those who remain may be out of step with new rules of the ga me. In addition, as organizations change, there
is an increase in part-time and contract work, a rise in unemployment, and massive restructuring efforts in the name of efficiency, People are
being forced to reframe the notion of work. The organization will not provide a job for life . Mentor ing models may be use ful when times
are stable, but re production of the status quo may not be what organizations need when faced with rapid changes.
Two revie ws of mentoring literature were published in which Merria m (1983) cautioned against potentially negative effects, and
Hunt and Michael (1983) proposed the establishme nt of formal ment oring pr ograms. The latter's optimism appea rs to c apture the etho s
of the ea rly 1980s as lar ge amounts of funds and energ y poure d in to th e de velopmen t, implementation, and evaluation of formal
mentoring programs (Carden, 1990). A North American survey in 1996 suggested that the percentage of businesses planning mentoring
programs doubled between 1995 and 1996, from 17% to 36% (Jossi, 1997). These programs may be a result of organizational guilt in the
aftermath of downsizing, a need to ease the pain of those
left behind in organizations and to retain some vestige of intellectual capital and organizational loyalty. The questions that must continue to
be asked are, "Whose goals are being pursued'? Who benefits? Whose interests do such programs serve?
The notion that mentoring is an exclusive activity undertaken predominantly by older males for younger ma les is no longer
appropriate. Stalker (1994) suggests an alternative view of mentoring that endorses the resistance and transformations women mentors bring to
patriarchal cultures and "critiques the existing power bases and explores the ways in which power can be used to challenge the status quo"
(p. 370). Women are allegedly more likely to regard power as a source of "power with" rather than "p owe r over" and c onsequently to value
learning within r ela tionships a s a key developmental experience (Hartsock, 1983; Kirkpatrick, 1975; McClelland, 1975). Learning to
reframe attitudes, emphasizing the importance of interdependence over dependence and intimacy over emotional distance, may be less difficult
for women than men.
Women also face discrimination and identity issues throughou t their careers different fr om those of men (Baker-Miller, 199 1). To
achieve equality, women in the late 1960s attempted to minimize differences between men and women. This was no easy t ask bec ause
the re existed an attitude t hat women "might not provide as good a r etu rn on investment for the corporati on as developing a male
manager wou ld" (Cook, 1 979 ). Du e to the small numb er of women in management positions, it was, and still is, easy for the m to be
entra pped in ste reotypica l roles, ranging from the "iron maiden" to the "mother," "seductress:' or "pet" (Kanter, 1977). Others label
successful women "queen bees" and berate them for not looking to clone their younger sisters.
Developmental theories of mentoring claim knowledge is a passive process. Knowledge needs to be viewed as an active process in which
curiosity is enc ouraged and learning becomes a dyna mic, reciprocal, and participa tory process. Fr om this perspec tive, learning is about
knowing diffe rently, and chan ge is more likely to occur as a result of individual learn ing. Mentoring partnerships will continue to happen
serendipitously, as they have done for centuries. Exclusive, power-dependent mentoring practices, however, cannot continue in wor k
settings. To understand this, it is necessary to consider the way orthodox functionalist views of mentoring are challenged by Radical
Traditional mentoring practices fulfilled two main functions: The first was to help younger proteges advance their careers by showcasing
their work. The second was a psychosocial function that helped proteges gain self-confidence required in a leadership situation. The more
functions present in the relationship, the more it resembled traditional mentorship.
A mentor was commonly viewed as a powerful member of an organization who sponsored career advancement. Relationships usua lly
occurred informally, between se nior (in age and position) and junior (usually male) members of the organization for the purpose of fast-
track promotion and succession planning. This Darwinian survival -of- the- fittest process ensures that proteges learn techniques for operating
successfully within a corporate culture, thus placing them "ahead of the pack." Mentors "go to bat" for their proteges, provide access to scarce
resources, help with visibility, protect from harm, and promote and recommend for challenging assignments. In return, mentors fulfill
"some deep-seated need to teach, assume a parental role, or indulge various altruistic yearnings that presumably haunt executives in late
careers" (Zey, 1984, p. 77).
Functionalist-oriented research suggests that having a mentor leads to career success and higher salaries; finding a mentor has become a
functional an d socially desirable acti vity (Roche, 1979). There are ext ensive mentor -protege relationships among business elites, Young
execut ives with mentors are allegedly happier with their career progress and work than are non-mentored colleagues. Although female
executives are far less prevalent, mentors are alleged to be equally important for the career advancement of women (Collins, 1983; Hennig &
Jardim, 1977; Jeruchim & Shapiro, 1992; Missirian, 1982),
There are, however, problems in perspectives that assume one right way to advance a career. People in senior positions looking for a
succ essor often identify prote ges who have cer tain charact eristic s and tend to advance people most like themselves (Kanter, 1977).
Individualistic and competitive notion s of social stratification embedded in functionalist perspectives imply that those who succeed have
done so solely through their own efforts. Such views ignore inequalities of race, gender, a nd class. This process is reinforced by
researchers who assume th e workforce consists entirely of White, mi ddle-class male s. Yet, the rela tionshi p between mentorin g and,
care er success is not fou nd in those from lowe r socioeconomic groups who receive significantly less mentoring than people with higher
socioeconomic status backgr ounds (Whitely, Dougherty, & Dreher, 199 1).
RECYCLED POWER RELATIONSHIPS
From a functionalist persp ective, mentor ing is associated with recycling of power within workplace relat ionships. First, proteges seek
more powerful individuals within the organization. The mentor holds power until the protege is independent, and then the cycle starts again, only
this time, the protege is now the mentor for someone else. Mentors give their proteges a pre view of what it means to have power, thus
removing some of the myster y, This recycling of power is base d on the assumption that mentoring is a power-dependent, hierarchical
activity, which initiates the protege and renews the mentor. A high degree of correlation between identity and work group membership, which
mirrors power relations, is also assumed.
Women and ra cial minorities have mainly been exc luded from organizational nor ms and, as such, ha ve been granted limited access to
this cycle of power. For example, women have had mentoring relationships almost entirely with men, but the degree of mutuality in the
relationship often was limited, and "the barriers to empathy and identification often prevented the development of it fuller mentoring
relationship" (Levins on, 1996, p. 270). They have often been forced to move outside the orga niza tion for psychosocia l support in
devel oping their professional identities "because the peop le inside their workplace often can not provide the core inter nal sense of
career that is so crucial to buildin g a total car eer self-concept" (Thomas & Higgins. 1995. p. 9).
In an attempt to make mentoring more accessible to women and disadvantaged groups, organizations created specialized programs, the
benefits of which have been documented (Collin, 1988; Hunt & Michael, 1983; Klauss, 1981; Wilson & Elman, 1990; Zey, 1984). This
functionalist approach to mentoring allegedly provides mutual benefits to the protege the mentor, and the organization. Benefits to the mentor
include satisfaction, loyalty, and peer recognition; benefits to the protege are assumed to include greater understanding of organizational culture,
career advice, and promotion; and benefits to the organization include increased motivation and productivity, stability of culture, reduced
turnover, leadership development, and improved communications,
Rese archers e lude to potential dange rs of such pr ogra ms, s uch as over-de pen denc e, je alousy, and the poss ibility of unwanted
romantic or sexual involvement sometimes associated with cross-gender mentoring. The experience and skill of the mentor and the
willingness of the protege to take responsibilit y f or t he relation ship are also me ntioned (Kram, 1985; Merriam, 1983; Shapiro,
Haseltine, & Rowe, 1978). Even if conditions are optimal, formal programs place heavy burdens on human resources as there are few
managers at the top available to act as mentors. One of the inevitable results of organizationally spon sored mentoring programs is the
temptation to mechanize the process. Although the notion of organizations encouraging career development of employees has
considerable merit from a functionalist perspective, difficulties occur when mentoring programs are made compulsory and seen to be the
only valid means of on-the-job learning. Formal mentoring models are authoritarian because they are introduced and controlled by senior
managers (Caruso, 1992). MENTORS AS PROVIDERS OF PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT
Adult development perspectives suggest that early ad ulthood is one of initiati on and that middle adulthood is one of reappraisal (Kram
1983; Levinson et. al., 1978; Missirian, 1982; Phillips-Jones, 1982). Each of these phases involves unique developmental tasks that must be
mastered to advance to the next stage (Erikson, 1980). In these conceptual frameworks, the mentor is viewed as a transitional figure who
guides and nurtures the protege into the adult world through a series of phases, from dependence to independence.
Career development research also suggests that people proceed through stages separated by a transitional period, a time of adj ust ment.
Mentoring is fi rst enc ountered during th e establ ish men t st age , usual ly when youn g pe ople first e nter an organization and are in most
need of guidance and support. Mentors, in their mid- to late 40s at the maintenance stage of their career, pass on their acquired knowledge to
young people who have just started, enabling them to build a sense of identity and p urpose. One of the be st-known mentoring models
was postul ate d by Kram (19 83). She suggested that mentoring relationshi ps pr oceed fro m initiat ion (a period of 6 months to I year),
during which time th e relationship gets started; cultivation (a period of 2 to 5 years), during which time the range of career and
psychosocial functions provided expands to a maximu m; separation (a per iod of 6 mon ths to 2 years), afte r a significant chan ge in the
struc tural role relation ship; and redefinition (an indefinite period), during which time the relationship is ended or takes on different
characteristics, making it more peer-like. There are allegedly reciprocal benefits.
The protege gains competence and insights, whereas "the mentor acts almost as an instrument of God, continuing the 'creation' of the
individual, and gains an unusual sense of singularity and importance" (Sheehy, 198 1. p. 182).
Development models are now being questioned (Kram & Hall, 1995) as career paths are less predictable and people are less likely than in the
past to receive life-long deve lopmental support from one person. Furthermore, development models assume that the mentor has more
career-related experie nce and knowledge tha n does the protege H oweve r, mid career workers, at the maintenance stage, are now having to
learn new skills: those in which younger workers may already be more
competent. Career age, rather than chronological age, may be more important. Career growth will be a process of continuous learning, which
combines relationships and work challenges. Moreover, it is probable that Kram's (1983) work on stages has lost relevance because mentoring
relationships are more likely to be shorter than in the past.
These developmental models are also based on the need for separation, with intimacy reemerging at the redefinition stage. This does not
appear to be the case in Gilligan's (1982) research, which suggested a fusion of identity and intimacy for wome n, rather than id entity prec edi ng
intimac y. Developmen tal theory has establi shed men's experience a nd competence as a baseline against which everyone's development
is judged, often to the detriment or misreading of women (Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger, & Tarule, 1986),
There is an eth erea l qualit y in mentoring rela tionships, and "magic is available to anyone willing to stand in the right place" (Daloz,
1986, p. 18). There is nothing wrong with the notion of a person who will appear serendipitously to provide guidance and direction. What
is troubling about this vie w is that like all fairy storie s, it may lea ve many p eople waiting patientl y and powerlessly for such a person to
materialize. It may a lso perpe tuate the myth of meritocracy in explaining success, suggesting that anyone can become successful if they
attra ct a mentor, work hard, and live happily ever after. Moreover, i t appear s tha t not eve ryone is f ortuna te enough to be standing in
the right place. Mentor s who offer comprehensive support to protege are reportedly rare (Clawson, 1985; Hanlan & Weiss, 198 1; Levinson et
al., 1978; Merriam, 1983). Mentoring is allegedly critical to adult development, yet few people have had a mentor. Could this mean that most
people are not fully developed? Or that perhaps mentoring is meant only for the scions of industry?
There are flaws in theories that suggest that there is a pr edictab le path for devel opme nt throughout adulthood, tha t emotional
boundaries must be present within such relationships, and that there exists in the work-place a successful core of White, middle-class
successors to or ganizational hierarchie s. A gr eat deal of mentor ing r esearch has been base d on this assumption and remains relatively
unchallenged. Traditional assumptions about mentoring, aimed at replicating the status quo, may have been relevant in a time befor e
women entered the workforce and before downsizing and flatter str ucture s reduced the role of hierarchy within organizations. These theories
are anchored in a world that no longer exists.
RADICAL HUMANIST PERSPECTIVES
Recall that in Paulston's (1996) cartography of social theory, Radical Humanism is located at the subjectivist end of the ontology axis and at the
"transformation" end of the vertical axis. The field of adult education is replete with theory or frames of reference that can be characterized as
Radical Humanist. Freire's (1972) work is the best known example of Radical Humanism in adult education. But, as well, there is
participa tory resea rch, the Ca nadian Antigonish movement; literacy campaigns in Latin American countries; certain AIDS-education
programs (that foreground power relations and subjectivity); most branch es of critical pedagogy; much of the work done with indigenous
people in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and Canada; popular theatre; and various critical strands in postmodern thought
(Paulston, 1999). As well, part of Mezirow's work on transformational learning is located in this paradigm.
Although advocates of the learning organization appear on the surface to favor the democratization of the workplace and employee
empowerment, a Radical Humanist perspective asks that we dig below the surface and examine power relations and ontologica l commitme nts
nest ed in mentori ng. Great cau tion is nee ded . From within a Radical Humanis t pe rspective, mentoring is a process that places social
justice in the foreground. Power re lations are challenged and worker subjectivity respected. The Ra dical Humanist mentor takes a broad
perspective that goes well beyond notions of efficiency found in a functionalist perspective. This can be seen clearly in the struggle over
what is meant by a l ea rn ing o rg an iz at io n. I s this an organization that has embraced the soc ial democ ratic ethos of lifelong educa tion or a
fancy name applied to well- oiled corporatism of the new right?
Some literature on learning organizations stresses the development of a climate that encourages risk taking, dialogue, and horiz ontal
relationships as a means of creating new knowle dge. Mentoring becomes a collaborative, d ynamic, and crea tive partnership of co-equals,
founded on openness, vulnerability, and the ability of both parties to take risks with one another beyond their professional roles.
Relationships become opportunities for dialogue, and e xp er t and l ea rn e r become arbitrary delineations. Within a Functionalist framework,
mentoring involved the transfer of technical and cultural knowledge from ment or as teacher, to protege as learner. But wit hin Rad ical
Huma nism, th e relatio nship be come s adult-like and interdependent. The concept of co-learning suggests that individuals transcend roles
(or create different roles) and interact as colleagues.
With power relations, employee subjectivity, and learning in the foreground, mentoring is impor tant for all employees, including
sen ior managers havin g to lea rn new rules a nd tec hnologies . Thu s, the y a re mor e likely to find themselves co-i nquirer s in the search
for work me aning a nd care er growth. Suc h a view sits well with t he changing culture of the
workplace and recognition of the need for organizations to encourage different ways of structuring meaning, of perceiving the self and the world
(Daloz, 1986). One of the strengths of mentoring in a Radical Humanist perspective is that it is founded on a learning model that uses tacit
knowledge, typically untaught but essential to thriving organizations.
Organizations must make more, ra ther than less, use of reflexive prac tice. Ra pid change often induces competition, and people react
conser vative ly, with a tendency to descen d into funda men tal ism . There a re pa radoxe s he re. Most people w ork in a competitive
environment yet often are asked to collaborate and care for one another. They are told to engage in intentional learning that requires self-
reflection and yet are asked to do more with less. They are asked to take risks, yet organizational culture does not support risk taking. Within
such a paradoxical environment, organizations need to encourage formation of mentoring relationships through dialogue.
Power and control of knowledge remain barriers to open communications in work settings, as many people are in the dual role of mentor
and supervisor. The need for psychological freedom may be in conflict with the exercise of authority (Collin, 1988; Kadushin, 1985; Wilson
& Elman, 1990). Structural barriers prevent people from being able to transcend roles but also exist in the minds of people. Their removal
must start with a heightened awareness of power and authority and willingness to develop new ways of relating to others (Kahn & Kram,
1994). Whereas traditional leadership theories focus on the behaviors of leaders (Yukl, 1994), a Radical Humanist perspective would dwell on
how power flows between leaders. and followers. In this regard, it appears that leaders who distance themselves from followers are less
effective (Bass, 1990). Leadership and mentorship appear to be closely aligned, as relationships, rather than structures, become more valued
within work settings.
From a Radical Humanist rather than a functionalist perspective, a variety of workplace mentoring relationships would be encouraged, for
example peer mentoring that offers mutually supportive and challenging partnerships of co-equals, marked more by reciprocal influence and
less by notions of downward influence and role-defined relationships (Jeruchim & Shapiro, 1992; Kram & Isabella, 1985, Louis, 1980).
Mentoring circles have been proposed as a way in which diversity objectives can be achieved.
Research that explores heterogeneous relationships is relatively thin due to the unchallenged assumption that mentoring is a one-to-one
developmental relationship between an older and a younger person. Yet, the notion of mentoring as a diffused func tion that should be
embraced by all workers is a critica l element in work settings. People's images of mentoring rarely take into account nonhierarchical,
democratic relationships, although organizational terminology may be changing, with categories such as "superior-subordinate" softening
into "team leader" and "team member."
Finally, from a Radical Humanist perspective, mentoring can no longer afford to be seen as some add-on feature to human resource
development that socializes new recruits. Rather, organizations need to acknowledge power relations and value time for connection between
workers within and outside the organization. Contributions from old and young people are valued, so perspectives are challenged and new
knowledge is created. Bly (1996) calls mentoring a "vertical" process, one in which young members of a society learn how to be in that
society. He believes that the breakdown of these vertical relationships has created a sibling society, one in which members live out a perpetual
adolescence. Relationships need to be both up and down, so older and younger organizational members keep asking, "How do these decisions
today affect tomorrow?"
It will be a challenge for decision makers to shift their focus from functionalist notions of mentoring. A major challenge will be learning to
break away from past mindsets and habits that may act a s barriers to learning. Mentoring wou ld become one of a number of strategies that
are part of an overall plan to share intellectual and emotional resources. Individuals would be encouraged to share both tacit and explicit
knowledge with others, in one-to-one mentoring relationships and a variety of other forms, both homogeneous and heterogeneous. Such
articulation (moving from tacit to explicit knowledge creation) will be critical, as movement in and out of organizations becomes more
frequent. In this way, new knowledge is created and power relationships are exposed. Organizations may learn to become less myopic.
Perhaps the notion of mentoring as a co-learning, interdependent activity which encourages authentic dialogue and power sharin g across
cultures, genders, and hierar chical levels is too utopia n. However, if mentoring is viewed less as a role and more as the character of the
relationship, it has the capacity to transform workplace relationships.
Research has been far from orderly, with little agreement as to how mentoring should be defined and used. Most research on mentoring
remains almost exclusively anchored in a functionalist paradigm. Functionalist perspectives, with their stress on efficiency, are congruent with
economic rationa lism nested in Reganism, Thatcherism, and Mulroneyism. But as the December 1999 demonstrations against the World
Trade Organization meeting in Seattle showed, these perspectives do not command enthusiastic support.
In the same way, there is now dissatisfaction with the utopianism of the "learning organization," which for many workers, involved the
tumult of restructuring, the need to do more with less, the confusion of "multiskilling," and anxiety about losing their job. In this context,
older functionalist f orms of mentorin g seem like a throwback to a past when knowledge, the wor kpla ce, and work relations hips were
more stable and power relations were not challe nged. The wide spread use of technology and importance ascribed to diversity in the
workplace means that there will be a continuing need for mentoring from within a functionalist frame of reference,
But in addition, there is now a profound need for mentoring that foregrounds power relationships and employee subjectivity.
The ta sk here has b een to analyze the wor kplace a t the da wn of the 21s t c entury and to ma ke the ca se for infusing mentoring with a
Radical Humanist perspective. It is not that trainers or Human Resources Development (HRD)-oriented adult educators are entirely wedded
to functionalist perspectives. On the contrary, many realize that "there's more to it." But because of economic rationalism and intense
competitiveness, f ew have time to invoke theory that reach es beyond functionalist orthodoxy.
What is needed is a study of how mentoring looks when viewed from within all the theoretical lenses nested in the four quadrants of
Figure 1. In this article, the task has been to compare and contrast mentor ing from within functionalist and Radical Humanist
perspectives. It is hoped that by so doing, others will be challenged to consider the possibility that there is more to mentoring than giving
advice. Moreover, there is more to mentoring research than surveys that attempt to link program initiatives with work-related outcomes,
Appelbaum, S., Ritchie, S., & Shapiro, B. (1994). Mentoring revisited: An organizational behaviour construct, Journal of Management
Development. 13(4), 62-72.
Baker-Miller, J. (1991). The development of women's sense of self. In J. V. Jordan, J. Baker-Miller, 1. P. Striver, &J, L. Surrey (Eds.), Women's
growth in connection (pp. 11-27). New York: Guilford.
Bass, B, M. (1990). From transactional to transformational leadership: Learning to share the vision. Organizational Dynamics, 18(4), 19-31.
Bele nky. M. F., Clinchy. B. M., Goldberger, N. R,. & Taru le, J. M. (1986). Women's ways of knowing. New York: Basic Books.
Bly, R. (1996). The sibling society. Reading. MA: Addison-Wesley.
Burrell, G., & Morgan, G. (1979). Sociological paradigms and organisational analysis. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Carde n. A. (1990). Mentoring and adu lt career development: The evolution of a theory. The Counseling Psychologist. /8,275-299.
Caruso, R. E. (1992), Mentoring and the business environment: Asset or liability? Dartmouth, MA: Business Performance Group,
Clawson, J. (1980). Mentoring in managerial careers, In C, B. Derr (Ed.). WorkFamily and the career New York: Praeger. Clawson, J.
(1985). Is mentoring necessary? Training and Development Journal. 39. 36-39. Collin, A. (1988). Mentoring, Industrial and Commercial
Training. 6. 23-27.
Collins, N. (1983). Professional women and their mentors. Englewood Cliffs. NJ: Prentice Hall,
Cook, M. (1979). Is the mentor relationship primarily a male experience? Personnel Administrator, 24(11),82-84.
Daloz, L (1986), Effective teaching and mentoring: Realising the transformational power of adult learning experiences. San Francisco:
Erikson, E. H. (Ed.). (1980). Adulthood. New York: Norton.
Freire, P. (1972). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Herder& Herder.
Gilligan, C. (1982). In a different voice: psychological theory and women's development. Cambridge. MA: Harvard University Press.
Whitely, W., Dougherty, T. W., & Dreher, & G. F. (199 1). Relationship of career mentoring and socio economic origin to managers' and
professionals' early career progress. Academy of Management Journal. 34, 131-35 1.
Wilson, A., & Elman, S. (1990). Organizational benefits of mentoring. The Ac ademy q f Manage me nt Executive, 4, 8 8-94. Yukl, G.
(1994). Leadership in organizations (3rd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Zaleznik, A. (1977). Managers and leaders: Are they
different? Harvard Business Review, 55(3), 67-75. Zey, M (1984). The mentor connection. Burr Ridge, IL: Dow Jones-Irwin.