To develop a biological approach to the analysis of learning organisations based on complexity theory, autopoiesis, and evolutionary epistemology.
This paper synthesises ideas from disciplines ranging from physics, epistemology and philosophy of science to military affairs, to sketch a scientific framework in which the autopoietic status of any kind of complex system can be evaluated. The autopoietic framework also presents generic concepts of memory, learning and knowledge. The autopoietic status of human organisations is tested in relation to this framework, and some of the direct implications regarding organisational learning and adaptation are highlighted.
A new definition of autopoiesis adding sustainability to key requirements is developed. Theoretical ideas of Maturana and Varela, Popper, Pattee, Boyd, and Gould are synthesised and applied to large‐scale organisations to reveal their emergent, autopoietic, evolutionary (i.e. biological), and learning nature.
Many current studies and practices in knowledge management are based on only limited views of what constitutes knowledge in the organisation and have not been conducted within any visible framework for understanding the organisation's survival imperatives, or how the knowledge and processes being studied relate to the organisation's overall strategic aims. The framework presented here will lead towards the development of a sounder theoretical basis for studying knowledge and learning in organisations.
CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited