The paper aims to offer an overview of the definition of the concept of learning organization to be used, related to and taken as a starting point for further conceptual developments by others writing about and using the learning organization concept. An additional purpose is to suggest how the concept of learning organization could be demarcated to define what would be demanded from any particular organization to be counted as a learning organization.
This is a conceptual paper. To define the learning organization, a label-focused approach and a content-focused approach are used. A contextual approach is suggested as the most appropriate tool for demarcating the concept of learning organization.
It is suggested that there are four versions of learning organization, which can all be related to three different forms of organizational aspects. Furthermore, a contextual approach is suggested to demarcate how to define learning organization to develop a much-needed contingency model, which places reasonable demands on organizations in various contexts to qualify them as learning organizations.
An overview definition, which anybody writing about the learning organization could relate to, is presented. It is also discussed what a learning organization is not, something which only few others have done, and a contextual approach to demarcating the learning organization concept is suggested.
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