This paper aims to contribute to the debate on what is a learning organization (LO). The author proposes that pragmatist philosophy may be a source of inspiration in this endeavor.
The author revisits a 25-year-old case study in which the process of implementing an LO in a public enterprise was observed. This was in the heyday of LOs, when they were regarded as an organizational form that could provide solutions for almost all organizational problems. The author starts by considering this case using the first four types of understanding in Örtenblad’s LO taxonomy (2018): “learning at work,” “climate for learning,” “organizational learning” and “learning structure.” Then the author uses Örtenblad’s fifth version of LOs, the “social perspective,” to show that the pragmatist concepts of experience, inquiry and commitment are helpful in revealing and explaining how learning happens as part of the “social”.
The author proposes the sixth version of Los, involving letting experience and inquiry loose. This is an extension of Örtenblad’s fifth version of LOs, which rests upon collective as the learning unit and learning as context-dependent cultural or social activity. The sixth version makes it possible to understand organizational learning and LOs as recursive processes of inquiry into tensions in experiences and the organizational affordances of voicing and enacting these tensions.
Regarding LOs from a pragmatist perspective makes it possible to view learning as cultural and social activity without making learning a matter of either motivational persons for learning or organizations as “conducive” for learning, but understands the two as connected in recursive, iterative and rhythmic processes of tensions and resolutions.
CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited