Habermas, interests and organizational learning: a critical perspective

Laurie Field (Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia)

The Learning Organization

ISSN: 0969-6474

Publication date: 8 April 2019

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to use critical theorist Jürgen Habermas’s conceptualization of the relationship between knowledge and interests to better understand the role of common and competing interests during organizational learning.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on critical accounts of work and learning, and on Habermas’s theoretical work on knowledge and interests, to examine the relationship between interests and organizational learning and, in particular, to consider conflict of interest’s role in organizational learning.

Findings

Transposed to organizational level, Habermas’s conceptualization of the relationship between knowledge and interests suggests that organizational learning can result from a technical interest, shaped by money and power, and from tensions and incompatibilities between the system’s technical interest and the lifeworld’s practical and emancipatory interests. There is ample evidence that the first combination does indeed account for a great deal of organizational learning but to date, very little scholarly attention has considered the possibility of organizational learning resulting from the second combination.

Originality/value

Despite interests and interest differences being visible in a number of studies of learning by individuals at work, the relationship between interests and learning at the organizational level is not well understood. This paper is a contribution to this area, using Habermas’s conceptualization of knowledge and interests to better understand the role of interests during organizational learning, raising the possibility that competing interests can result in organizational learning, and suggesting areas for further research.

Keywords

Citation

Field, L. (2019), "Habermas, interests and organizational learning: a critical perspective", The Learning Organization, Vol. 26 No. 3, pp. 252-263. https://doi.org/10.1108/TLO-04-2018-0060

Download as .RIS

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.