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Regenerating the learning organisation: towards an alternative paradigm

Mike Pedler (University of Reading, Reading, UK)
Shih-wei Hsu (University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China)

The Learning Organization

ISSN: 0969-6474

Article publication date: 4 December 2018

Issue publication date: 8 February 2019




This paper aims to take a critical view of the concepts of the Learning Organisation and Organisational Learning (LO/OL) and respond to two questions about their current state: are existing perspectives on LO/OL still fit for purpose? What are the possibilities for an alternative paradigm of LO/OL?


The paper critically reviews the literature of LO/OL and uses the concept of problematisation together with some guiding principles from ancient wisdoms to articulate an alternative paradigm.


Two waves of LO/OL are identified. A first wave rests on a series of assumptions that have shaped a predominant understanding of LO/OL, including the suppositions that all learning is good; that those organisations adopting LO/OL strategies are engaged in useful work and in pursuing socially valuable ends; and that neo-liberal beliefs favouring market-based solutions are the most appropriate response to organisational problems. A more reflexive approach to LO/OL has challenged these predominant views, and although it has had little impact on practice, it paves the way for a possible second wave perspective. With the help of a theoretical excursion of Taoism and Buddhism, the authors portray a possible picture of a new paradigm for LO/OL.


Whilst existing critical accounts have problematised the mainstream assumptions of LO/OL, they have not clearly indicated any different perspectives. Drawing upon ancient wisdom, the paper identifies some guiding principles for an alternative LO/OL paradigm and discourse.



Pedler, M. and Hsu, S.-w. (2019), "Regenerating the learning organisation: towards an alternative paradigm", The Learning Organization, Vol. 26 No. 1, pp. 97-112.



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