As contemporary organizations’ focus shifts from knowledge orientation to learning orientation, this paper aims to articulate the need for models that describe the learning process in organizations. Simply assuming that organizations learn without any support of tangible framework or models highlights this need. The paper presents limitations of two prevalent themes of organizational learning, i.e. learning by adapting to environmental disturbances and learning from organizational members.
Based on the literature review on organizational learning, studies that depict the mechanism of organizational learning were selected. These were grouped into two categories: one that focuses on how organizations learn from its environment and other on how organization learn from its members.
This paper suggests the need for developing models and frameworks that eloquently describe the learning process in organizations. The literature focuses on organizational learning from individuals and adapting to the environment. Organizations tend to attribute the cause of failure to environmental shocks. Then, instead of the environment being a source of learning, it becomes a cause of failure. If individuals are agents of organization through which the latter learns, how this tacit knowledge becomes institutionalized in organizational memory is unknown.
This paper is a retrospective view on organizational learning. It attempts to question the black box of organizational learning, i.e. how the learning of individuals is transferred to organizational memory, or simply put, how the organizational learning mechanism works. There is a dearth of studies that address this question, and it has been simply assumed that somehow organizations do learn, but how?
Sharma, S. and Lenka, U. (2019), "How organizations learn: models uncovering the black box", Development and Learning in Organizations, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 20-23. https://doi.org/10.1108/DLO-01-2018-0008Download as .RIS
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