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The gender subtext of organizational learning

Stephan Raaijmakers (Institute for Management Research, Nijmegen School of Management, Radboud University , Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
Inge Bleijenbergh (Institute for Management Research, Nijmegen School of Management, Radboud University , Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
Brigit Fokkinga (Institute for Management Research, Nijmegen School of Management, Radboud University , Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
Max Visser (Institute for Management Research, Nijmegen School of Management, Radboud University , Nijmegen, The Netherlands)

The Learning Organization

ISSN: 0969-6474

Article publication date: 8 January 2018

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to challenge the alleged gender-neutral character of Argyris and Schön’s theory of organizational learning (1978). While theories in organizational science seem gender neutral at the surface, a closer analysis reveals they are often based on men’s experiences.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper uses the method of gender subtext analysis, centering on gendering and its interaction with gender, class and race.

Findings

The dichotomous learning scheme of Argyris and Schön, in which a limited learning approach with alleged masculine values and interaction styles is opposed to an ideal learning approach with feminine values and interaction styles, is related to Bendl’s subtexts of feminization and of unconscious exclusion and neglect in organizational theories. To overcome the binary character of the theory, a gradient and contextualized approach to organizational learning is proposed.

Originality/value

This paper is the first to apply gender subtext analysis to theories of organizational learning and, thus, to analyze their gender subtext.

Keywords

Citation

Raaijmakers, S., Bleijenbergh, I., Fokkinga, B. and Visser, M. (2018), "The gender subtext of organizational learning", The Learning Organization, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 19-28. https://doi.org/10.1108/TLO-05-2017-0048

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited