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From learning organization to practically wise organization

Jennifer Rowley (Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)
Paul Gibbs (Middlesex University, London, UK)

The Learning Organization

ISSN: 0969-6474

Article publication date: 18 July 2008

Abstract

Purpose

Although the notion of wisdom confronts the economic rationale of business organizations, this paper aims to argue that organizations are coming under increasing pressure not only to learn, change and adapt, but also to take actions that are ethically acceptable and respond to the expectations of multiple stakeholders, or in other words to act wisely. Accordingly this article seeks to progress the debate on the relationship between organizational learning, learning organizations and wisdom, in pursuit of a new version of the model of the learning organization, the practically wise organization.

Design/methodology/approach

First, the literature on the learning organization and organizational learning is reviewed with a view to the identification of useful models and concepts. The paucity of reference to wisdom in that literature is noted. The following sections develop the theme of practical wisdom and, the essence of the practically wise organization, respectively. Finally a model for the practically wise organization that is both a virtuous and a learning organization is proposed.

Findings

The paper finds that a practically wise organization is a learning organization whose learning architecture is based on the principles of practical wisdom. Such an organization manages the processes associated with the seven pillars of wisdom: understanding dynamic complexity; developing personal wisdom competency; deliberating towards ethical models; refreshing shared sustainable vision; group wisdom dynamics; deliberated praxis; and embodied learning.

Originality/value

The article is a first step towards extending the theory and practice associated with the learning organization and organizational learning to embrace the multi‐stakeholder, ethically and morally informed perspectives embedded in the notion of practical wisdom.

Keywords

Citation

Rowley, J. and Gibbs, P. (2008), "From learning organization to practically wise organization", The Learning Organization, Vol. 15 No. 5, pp. 356-372. https://doi.org/10.1108/09696470810898357

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited