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Triple‐loop learning in a cross‐sector partnership: The DC Central Kitchen partnership

Patrizia Ameli (George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA)
D. Christopher Kayes (George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA)

The Learning Organization

ISSN: 0969-6474

Article publication date: 19 April 2011




This paper aims to build on notions of a higher level of organizational learning to suggest another dimension: interorganizational learning that emerges in a cross‐sector partnership.


A case study was conducted with the DC Central Kitchen (DCCK) partnership with for‐profit and governmental entities. Research methods included interviews with the founder, CEO, and manager responsible for the relationship with partners; direct observation during volunteer work at DCCK; and review of archival data and physical artifacts.


At the organizational level, DCCK was a learning organization because the principal variables – culture, strategy, shared vision, and knowledge management – were focused on learning. At the interorganizational level, the network was like a constellation of organizations. DCCK had many dyadic relationships with its partners, but the partners were not always interconnected with one another. Triple‐loop learning occurred in DCCK but was not yet developed among partners. DCCK benefited the community both tangibly, as seen in its education projects, and culturally, by giving a more central role to the nonprofit organization in the economic system.


The paper illustrates the value of interorganizational learning across two or more sectors of organizations.



Ameli, P. and Kayes, D.C. (2011), "Triple‐loop learning in a cross‐sector partnership: The DC Central Kitchen partnership", The Learning Organization, Vol. 18 No. 3, pp. 175-188.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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