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Article
Publication date: 9 April 2018

Anders Örtenblad

The paper aims to offer an overview of the definition of the concept of learning organization to be used, related to and taken as a starting point for further conceptual…

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11624

Abstract

Purpose

The paper aims to offer an overview of the definition of the concept of learning organization to be used, related to and taken as a starting point for further conceptual developments by others writing about and using the learning organization concept. An additional purpose is to suggest how the concept of learning organization could be demarcated to define what would be demanded from any particular organization to be counted as a learning organization.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a conceptual paper. To define the learning organization, a label-focused approach and a content-focused approach are used. A contextual approach is suggested as the most appropriate tool for demarcating the concept of learning organization.

Findings

It is suggested that there are four versions of learning organization, which can all be related to three different forms of organizational aspects. Furthermore, a contextual approach is suggested to demarcate how to define learning organization to develop a much-needed contingency model, which places reasonable demands on organizations in various contexts to qualify them as learning organizations.

Originality/value

An overview definition, which anybody writing about the learning organization could relate to, is presented. It is also discussed what a learning organization is not, something which only few others have done, and a contextual approach to demarcating the learning organization concept is suggested.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 25 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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Article
Publication date: 23 May 2008

Teresa Manuela Rebelo and Adelino Duarte Gomes

The purpose of this article is to analyse the evolution of the concepts of organizational learning and the learning organization and propose guidelines for the future..

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5954

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to analyse the evolution of the concepts of organizational learning and the learning organization and propose guidelines for the future..

Design/methodology/approach

The evolution of organizational learning and the learning organization is analysed in the light of the three‐stage model of the evolution of concepts developed by Reichers and Schneider in 1990.

Findings

Based on the aforesaid model, the authors positioned these topics at the beginning of the second stage of evolution, a period characterised by evaluation and the attempt to add to the comprehension of concepts through empirical research and conceptual clarification. Faced with this finding, the authors argue that the development and consolidation of concepts is mainly a question of researchers' responsibility and suggest some key areas to guarantee their progress and their general acceptance in the future.

Originality/value

The use of a concept's life cycle stage model as a framework to analyse evolution of the concepts of organizational learning and the learning organization that allows comprehension of their pattern of development and, in consequence, provides a consistent basis to propose guidelines for their future development.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 15 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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Article
Publication date: 20 February 2017

C. Muhammad Siddique

This paper aims to examine the concept of learning organization (LO) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Its objective is to provide initial insight into the potential…

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1616

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the concept of learning organization (LO) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Its objective is to provide initial insight into the potential impact of cultural context on how business managers perceive and interpret the LO theory and practice.

Design/methodology/approach

The study was conducted in two phases; the first phase involved a focus group review and discussion of the LO concept and major LO models. With insights gained from the focus group discussions, the second phase of the study developed a number of hypotheses on the potential impact of national cultural orientations on the LO concept, which were tested with managerial responses to a survey.

Findings

While UAE managers viewed and interpreted the LO concept in several different ways, most qualitative comments emphasized the following four aspects of an LO: workplace learning, organizational learning, learning climate and learning structure. Both sets of data revealed strong linkages between dimensions of national culture and the LO concept. Organizational culture partially mediated the relationship between national cultural orientations and aspects of an LO. Potential barriers to the implementation of the LO concept as perceived by respondents were largely related to national cultural value orientations and organizational cultures. The findings suggested that Western LO models and measurement instruments do not fully capture the socio-cultural reality of UAE-based organizations and the manner in which they view and interpret the LO concept and practices in their specific context.

Research limitations

Being a preliminary and largely reflective in nature, the present study has relied more heavily upon the qualitative data than the survey data.

Practical implications

The findings of this study document the value of culture-specific criteria to monitor the performance of companies in their LO journey rather than using a standardized LO assessment model.

Originality/value

The study represents an initial attempt at enhancing the understanding of the impact of national culture on the development and application of the LO concept and the challenges it faces in the UAE context.

Details

Management Research Review, vol. 40 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8269

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Article
Publication date: 19 September 2008

Jim Grieves

The purpose of this paper is to propose that the idea of the learning organization should be abandoned on the grounds that it was an imaginative idea that has now run its…

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4839

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to propose that the idea of the learning organization should be abandoned on the grounds that it was an imaginative idea that has now run its course. The paper seeks to explore the roots of the definition and provoke debate about the wisdom of retaining the concept. The argument is a challenge to readers to explore their own views in order to open up debate.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on an investigation of definitions of the term “learning organization”, the paper explores the theoretical premises of the learning organization concept. The relevance of empirical examples or applied nature of the concept is defined as the principal focus.

Findings

The literature review reveals two basic premises. These are, first, that the learning organization is an ideal worth striving for and, second, that systems theory provides a sound theoretical underpinning for the concept. The concept has resulted in confusion because of the theoretical and methodological premises on which it is based. Each premise is explored and found wanting.

Originality/value

The implications for research and publication are significant in that, whilst the paper seeks to open up debate about taken for granted assumptions related to the concept of the learning organization, it proposes that the concept should be abandoned and research should be focused instead on more pragmatic issues related to organizational learning. The argument uses a brief case example of Siemens to explore the difficulty in applying the “learning organizationconcept.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 15 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2000

Myra Hodgkinson

This paper is concerned with identifying, from an organizational perspective, the concept of a “learning organization”. The first section briefly reviews the…

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4626

Abstract

This paper is concerned with identifying, from an organizational perspective, the concept of a “learning organization”. The first section briefly reviews the organizational learning, and business and management literature. The second part describes the research activity and outcomes from a group of middle managers employed in a large international company who are also postgraduate management students. These managers provide interpretations of a “learning organization” within the context of their working lives. The research was followed up three months later and explores whether there had been an attempt to introduce the concept (or aspects of it), the managers’ roles in this (if any) and barriers to its introduction. Finally the implications of adopting the concept for their PLC are examined. The paper concludes that institutions of higher education can have significant impact on introducing, through postgraduate study, concepts such as the “learning organization” to managerial practice.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 7 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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Article
Publication date: 13 July 2015

Mijalce Santa

The purpose of this paper is to perform integrative literature review of the learning organisation (LO) concept, on the basis of the results of the literature review to…

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9494

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to perform integrative literature review of the learning organisation (LO) concept, on the basis of the results of the literature review to assess the concept on the principles of “good” theory, and provide future avenues for LO concept clarification and development.

Design/methodology/approach

The “good” theory properties approach is used to present, synthesise and discuss studies that focus on the LO. The paper reviews in more detail the definitions (Who? and What?), the domain (When? and Where?), the relationships (How? and Why?) and the predictions by the LO theory (Would? Should? and Could?).

Findings

The review revealed that the LO violates the properties of the “good” theory, especially the definitions’ and relationships’ properties. As a result, it is suggested for the research in the future to be focused on creation of formal conceptual definitions, development of ontology as a base for clarification of the relationship property and improve the instruments for measurement of the LO.

Originality/value

Previously published literature reviews have advanced the clarification of the LO concept. However, there remains a need for evaluation of the concept in light of approach to concept formation. By using the “good” theory approach, this paper identified the shortcomings and laid down the ground for future research that will improve the LO concept.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 22 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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Article
Publication date: 6 July 2010

Karolina Parding and Lena Abrahamsson

The aim of this article is to challenge the concept of “the learning organization” as unproblematic and inherently good.

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2951

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this article is to challenge the concept of “the learning organization” as unproblematic and inherently good.

Design/methodology/approach

The research looked at how teachers – as an example of public sector professionals in a work organization that claims to be a learning organization – view their conditions for learning.

Findings

By using this approach, the normative values surrounding the concept of the learning organization were discussed. This approach identifies power‐relations: i.e. who has the priority of interpretation to define what learning is desired and considered relevant as well as when, how and where one learns. In addition, it gives indications to how and why the implementations of management concepts are not always successful.

Originality/value

This article shows how the implementation of a governance concept (learning organization) in fact can be seen as bringing with it unintended consequences for the organization as a whole – and especially for the professionals. Even within a work organization claiming to be a learning organization, learning gaps can be identified.

Details

Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 22 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

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Article
Publication date: 4 May 2020

Yusuf Sidani and Simon Reese

This paper aims to provide an overview of the development of learning organization concepts from the perspective of Nancy Dixon, who has been at the forefront of the…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to provide an overview of the development of learning organization concepts from the perspective of Nancy Dixon, who has been at the forefront of the learning organization discussion since the 1980s.

Design/methodology/approach

Through a conversation with Dixon, and a scan of some of her works, this paper discusses several topics pertaining to the evolution of the learning organization debate, from Dixon’s perspective.

Findings

Dixon’s understanding of learning organizations was influenced by concepts related to action learning where people in organizations learn through meeting and talking about their problems. What distinguishes her understanding from others in that it is built more on the perspective of psychological safety, as inspired by Amy Edmonson's work.

Originality/value

Dixon acknowledges that her work has had more impact on the practitioner side. Dixon maintains that learning organizations are more egalitarian and move away from hierarchy. There are ethical underpinnings to this understanding as, with psychological safety, people are willing to speak up in those situations when their voices are needed to be heard.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 27 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 2004

Christopher N. Searchfield

This paper explores the effects of the adaptation of the learning organisation (LO) concept to teaching in a university setting. The literature in accounting education…

Abstract

This paper explores the effects of the adaptation of the learning organisation (LO) concept to teaching in a university setting. The literature in accounting education calls for a change in traditional teaching methods in order to produce accounting graduates whose skills are more appropriate for the contemporary business and professional environment. To address this deficiency accounting educators have started to explore and use teaching innovations. In this study, the LO concept has been adapted to a teaching environment, in contrast to most research which has focused on LO in business settings. The paper, through the examination of empirical evidence arising from a natural experiment, was able to determine some of the impacts arising from the adaptation of the LO concept to teaching in a university setting. The results of the paper suggest that the adaptation of the LO concept not only resulted in improved student learning outcomes, but also influenced life‐long learning. Further research could widen the scope of the operationalisation of the LO concept and explore its use in other undergraduate and postgraduate units.

Details

Asian Review of Accounting, vol. 12 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1321-7348

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1999

Joy Cullen

Applies a socially‐constructed perspective on cognition and learning to learning organisations. Explains socially‐constructed cognition, learning and the concept of a…

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4640

Abstract

Applies a socially‐constructed perspective on cognition and learning to learning organisations. Explains socially‐constructed cognition, learning and the concept of a learning organisation‐personal mastery, mental models, shared vision, team learning and systems thinking. Based on Australian cases and research, it outlines the enterprise culture, the learning university and workplace learning. Examines the possible key role of consultants in promoting organisational learning. Argues that a major shift in thinking about HR has to take place to support learning organisations. Outlines future areas for research: redefinition of concepts such as team thinking and team learning to incorporate the study of constraints; the study of the physical environments which hinder/support learning organisations and further investigation of work group cultures.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 6 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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