Learning organization

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The learning organization has its origins in companies like Shell, where Arie de Geus described learning as the only sustainable competitive advantage using the 1973 oil crisis as a framework.[1] The Learning Organization is seen as a response to an increasingly unpredictable and dynamic business environment. Here are some definitions by key writers:

"The essence of organisational learning is the organization's ability to use the amazing mental capacity of all its members to create the kind of processes that will improve its own" (Nancy Dixon 1994)

"A Learning Company is an organisation that facilitates the learning of all its members and continually transforms itself" (M. Pedler, J. Burgoyne and Tom Boydell, 1991)

"Organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to learn together" (Peter Senge, 1990)

Learning organizations are those that have in place systems such as "first-delivery teams" to accompany (historic) product shipments,[2] mechanisms and processes such as strategic knowledge generation and distillation[3] that are used to continually enhance strategic behaviours and organizations — their capabilities and those who work with it or for it — to achieve sustainable objectives for themselves and the communities in which they participate.

The important points to note about this definition are that learning organizations:

  • Are adaptive to their external environment
  • Continually enhance their capability to change/adapt
  • Develop collective as well as individual learning
  • Use the results of learning to achieve better results

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ de Geus, Arie. "Planning as Learning". Harvard Business Review (March/April 1988): 70–74. ISSN 0017-8012. ; cited in Martin, James (1996). Cybercorp: The New Business Revolution. New York City, NY: American Management Association. pp. 256–266. ISBN 00814403514. 
  2. ^ Garvin, David A.. "Building a Learning Organization". Harvard Business Review (July/August 1993). ISSN 0017-8012. ; also cited in Cybercorp: The New Business Revolution, p. 262.
  3. ^ Glynn, Mary Ann; Lant, Theresa K.; Milliken, Frances J. (1994), "Mapping learning process in organizations: A multi-level framework linking learning and organizing", in Stubbart, C.; Porac, J. F.; Meindl, J. P., Advances in Managerial Cognition and Organizational Information Processing, 5, Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, pp. 43–83 ; cited in Kuwada, Kotaro (November-December 1998). "Strategic Learning: The Continuous Side of Discontinuous Strategic Change". Organization Science (Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences) 9 (6): 719–736. doi:10.1287/orsc.9.6.719. 
  • The Fifth Discipline, by Peter Senge, Doubleday, 2006.
  • Learning Organizations, eds. Sarita Chawla and John Renesch, Productivity Press, 1995.
  • Simonin, Bernard (October 1997), "The Importance of Collaborative Know-How: An Empirical Test of the Learning Organization", The Academy of Management Journal 40 (5): 1150–1174, doi:10.2307/256930 
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