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Organizational learning and power dynamics: a study in a Brazilian University

Jane Lucia Silva Santos ((KLOM) Knowledge, Learning and Organizational Memory Interdisciplinary Research Group, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Brazil)
Andrea Valéria Steil (Department of Psychology, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, Brazil)

The Learning Organization

ISSN: 0969-6474

Article publication date: 2 February 2015




This paper aims to describe and analyze organizational learning processes and power dynamics during the adoption and use of an information system (IS) at a Brazilian public organization.


A case study was chosen as the research method. Data were gathered from documents and interviews with key informants.


The results indicate the existence of two learning cycles during the adoption of the IS at the organization. In the first cycle, learning occurred only at the individual level. In the second cycle, cognitive and social processes of individual and group learning were associated with power dynamics, enabling learning at the organizational level. These results reveal a relationship between the organizational learning process and the specific modes of power, notably discipline, influence, force and domination.


The study presents empirical evidence about the conceptual relation between the organizational learning process and different forms of power in organizations. There has been limited empirical research on this topic worldwide to date, and none in the context of Brazilian organizations published in Brazil or abroad.



The authors would like to thank Professor Nancy Rolph and Professor Francis Tuggle for their helpful editorial guidance, and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on our paper. In addition, the first author appreciates the support received from National Council for the Improvement of Higher Education (CAPES), Brazil.


Santos, J.L.S. and Steil, A.V. (2015), "Organizational learning and power dynamics: a study in a Brazilian University", The Learning Organization, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 115-130.



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