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From situated practice to informed theory: Learning cycles and enabling structures

Randal Ford (Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, Spartanburg, South Carolina, USA)

The Learning Organization

ISSN: 0969-6474

Article publication date: 7 March 2008




The purpose of this paper is to examine organizational practice to investigate what insights could be gained to support and extend existing theory.


Adopts a clinical approach, e.g. not a priori or an academic one where data are mangled to fit a theoretical stance.


Data analysis reveals four interconnected learning cycles and the enabling structures put in place to facilitate them. The practice‐based themes support many organization learning theories; in addition, the findings augment the systems perspective.

Research limitations/implications

Challenges traditional logical‐deductive (theory driven) stances. Findings do not pretend to be generalizable or definitive, but more evocative.

Practical implications

The paper discusses practical implications in how firms might implement enabling structures for organizational learning; and what accompanying changes in management practices and leadership would be required in implementing these facilitative structures.


This paper provides value to all organizations, in that it outlined how personnel at all organization levels can think, plan, innovate, process information and coordinate in working together. In adopting the perspective of praxis within an unconventional organizational context, the empirical findings support and reinforce some theories of organizational learning, extend or refute others and add new insights.



Ford, R. (2008), "From situated practice to informed theory: Learning cycles and enabling structures", The Learning Organization, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 126-148.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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