Because the volcanic ash that affected air travel in Western Europe in 2010 was considered as one of the most meaningful learning experiences by a group of MBA students, this article aims to outline the main aspects of an incidental learning situation, rarely described on management education literature. Incidental learning is an unsystematic apprentice’s experience leaded by tacit knowledge. Our central objective was to describe ways of learning that developed from this situation, herein referred to as the “adventure in Europe”, and also deepens the understanding of the role of incidental learning in formal education. This qualitative-exploratory study included ten senior managers from a Brazilian International Executive MBA program. Data were collected by a focal group, an objective questionnaire and two rounds of interviews. The results show the combination of reflection, reflexivity and cooperation in dealing with an incidental and loosely structured situation regarding two aspects used by students to produce significant knowledge: engagement in action and decision-making process. We discuss the relevance of educational strategies that provide opportunities so that incidental experiences can be explored creatively in management education to produce significant and experiential learning for the apprentices.
Key words: Incidental learning, tacit knowledge, experiential learning, volcanic ash, management education, engagement, Decision-Making Process.