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Article
Publication date: 1 July 2003

Peter A.C. Smith and Judy O’Neil

Many organizations now utilize action learning, and it is applied increasingly throughout the world. Action learning appears in numerous variants, but generically it is a

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2483

Abstract

Many organizations now utilize action learning, and it is applied increasingly throughout the world. Action learning appears in numerous variants, but generically it is a form of learning through experience, “by doing”, where the task environment is the classroom, and the task the vehicle. Two previous reviews of the action learning literature by Alan Mumford respectively covered the field prior to 1985 and the period 1985‐1994. Both reviews included books as well as journal articles. This current review covers the period 1994‐2000 and is limited to publicly available journal articles. Part 1 of the Review was published in an earlier issue of the Journal of Workplace Learning (Vol. 15 No. 2) and included a bibliography and comments. Part 2 extends that introduction with a schema for categorizing action learning articles and with comments on representative articles from the bibliography.

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Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 15 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

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Article
Publication date: 19 September 2008

Peter A.C. Smith

The purpose of this paper is to introduce the Special Issue; to provide a practitioner's retrospective views of the learning organization concept; and to comment on the…

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3053

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to introduce the Special Issue; to provide a practitioner's retrospective views of the learning organization concept; and to comment on the status of The Learning Organization journal.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach adopted involves recounting a personal history of a practitioner's experiences with the concept, and an observation on the health of The Learning Organization journal.

Findings

The paper finds that, although the learning organization concept is deemed narrow and out of date, it is judged to have had significant positive influence on organizational thinking. The Learning Organization is shown to be a healthy and popular journal.

Originality/value

The paper is included in a Special Issue that is part of the series commissioned by the journal on organization‐related topics of interest to its readers. Its originality stems from its examination of the learning organization concept through a particular practitioner's lens, provoking reflection amongst others engaged in both the delivery and the consumption of practice and study.

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

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Article
Publication date: 6 January 2012

Peter A.C. Smith

This Special Issue is intended to heighten awareness of the importance of organizational learning in addressing the demands of organizational sustainability, and in…

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9214

Abstract

Purpose

This Special Issue is intended to heighten awareness of the importance of organizational learning in addressing the demands of organizational sustainability, and in particular triple bottom line (TBL) sustainability. A definition of TBL sustainability is provided, together with an exploration of the practical issues relevant to adopting organizational learning in addressing it. By exploring research and practitioner viewpoints bearing on sustainability‐related applications of organizational learning, this Special Issue aims to help organizations remove barriers to achieving sustainability goals and catalyze the progress for an organization on its sustainability journey.

Design/methodology/approach

General sustainability‐related concerns and challenges associated with organizational learning are reviewed, and individual authors voice their understanding of the application of organizational leaning to particular aspects of sustainability based on their research, their case studies, and the extant literature.

Findings

Findings include enhanced understanding of the incompatibility of single‐ and double loop learning in TBL sustainability contexts, and the required emphasis on double‐loop learning to progress sustainability aims successfully. The effectiveness of dialogic interaction is described in achieving a transition towards sustainability in people, organizations and society as a whole. How individual worldviews called “our ecological selves” allow creation of the conditions for confronting global environmental challenges is explained. Contributions are made to the understanding of hybrid organizations through the case of a Brazilian networked organization, and a paradox view of management based on the theories of organizational learning and managerial cybernetics is applied to enlighten the understanding of sustainability. The learning and adaptive system of the US commercial aviation industry is explored and the application of such a system in an organization operating according to triple bottom line sustainability principles is described.

Originality/value

The opinions and research presented provide new and unique understanding of how organizational learning may contribute to organizational sustainability. Further value is added via the assessment of means to progress the sustainability ideal, the identification of barriers, and the many practical examples of means to facilitate progress toward that ideal.

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 1999

Paul Tosey and Peter A.C. Smith

Asserts and explores the claim that further headway in substantive wide‐scale learning organization development is seriously jeopardised unless individual organizations…

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2334

Abstract

Asserts and explores the claim that further headway in substantive wide‐scale learning organization development is seriously jeopardised unless individual organizations objectively measure their progress. In part 1 a new evaluative standpoint grounded in “New Science” is suggested, and foundations for two non‐traditional discriminant approaches based on this standpoint are discussed. The potential to link such assessments to business performance is evaluated. In part 2, applications of these two approaches in organizational settings are reviewed.

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The Learning Organization, vol. 6 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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Article
Publication date: 19 April 2011

Henk Eijkman

The purpose of this paper is to outline the aims for this journal with the new editor.

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1814

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to outline the aims for this journal with the new editor.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper gives an overview of TLO in the past and the possible future direction for the journal.

Findings

It is found that: first, the LO as a prescription for organizational change “writ large” has little relevance to contemporary practitioners, consultants, and researchers; second, that the LO concept is in effect a contradiction in terms and therefore fatally flawed to the point it should be abandoned; third, if the journal is to continue the use of the LO concept that it does so pragmatically with a refocusing on tried and tested informal work‐integrated action learning and critical analysis and adopt a distinct critical edge; fourth, that if so, it must adopt broader and more culturally sensitive perspectives that recognise the limitations and biases inherent in this Euro/American‐centric concept and its practices; and fifth, that this of all journals needs to acknowledge and respond to the irresistible tide of the democratisation of information in the digital age and the growth of informal learning both in terms of the papers published and in the way it, as a journal, operates.

Originality/value

The author believes that as an international journal The Learning Organization is eminently placed to engage practitioners, professionals and academics in a progressive dialogue that, though characterized by a questioning stance, recognizes the opportunities to enhance not just organizational productivity and managerial power but also the quality of work environments for all personnel.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 18 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 1998

This article has been withdrawn as it was published elsewhere and accidentally duplicated. The original article can be seen here: 10.1108/09576059510078729. When citing…

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3021

Abstract

This article has been withdrawn as it was published elsewhere and accidentally duplicated. The original article can be seen here: 10.1108/09576059510078729. When citing the article, please cite: Stephen A.W. Drew, Peter A.C. Smith, (1995), “The new logistics management: transformation through organizational learning”, Logistics Information Management, Vol. 8 Iss: 1, pp. 24 - 33.

Details

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, vol. 28 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0960-0035

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2013

Peter A.C. Smith and Carol Ann Sharicz

The purpose of this paper is to assist an organization to restructure as a bi‐modal organization in order to achieve sustainability in today's highly complex business world.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to assist an organization to restructure as a bi‐modal organization in order to achieve sustainability in today's highly complex business world.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is conceptual and is based on relevant literature and the authors' research and practice.

Findings

Although fluid self‐organizing networks are the natural state for humankind, in most organizations “organizing” entails the process of autopoiesis. This process does not produce the open fluid organization that is required for success in today's business world. While autopoiesis is taking place, informal socialization is taking place across the organization's interpersonal networks. Under supportive conditions, this leads to the development of a bi‐modal organization where one or more open systems may emerge and co‐exist concurrently with the autopoietic system; these open systems include fluid networks and complex adaptive system. The bi‐modal organization achieves sustainability by balancing a certain amount of organization versus a certain amount of instability, leading to predictability with disorder, and planned long‐term strategy achieved through many concurrent short‐term actions.

Research limitations/implications

Future research will involve an empirical study that will further examine the bi‐modal organization, its development, and its properties.

Practical implications

The systems that surround a business organization now and for the foreseeable future are highly dynamic, competitive, and socially individualized, and demand a new organizational form and competencies that may only be exhibited by a bi‐modal organization based on an open system. The paper describes how an organization can restructure to become a bi‐modal organization.

Social implications

The paper should help improve quality of work‐life and organizational structure.

Originality/value

The paper describes a new organizational form designed to flourish in today's complex business contexts.

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 1998

Peter A.C. Smith and John Peters

Presents a methodology for the design of a learning approach to service quality improvement. Considers the strengths of “action learning”, noting some of the major…

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2952

Abstract

Presents a methodology for the design of a learning approach to service quality improvement. Considers the strengths of “action learning”, noting some of the major companies which have utilized this approach, including the British Airports Authority and AT&T. Looks at a typical action learning program which involves aspects such as tackling real problems and working in small groups or “sets”, and notes benefits such as the fact that the programs can be designed to suit the organization and that the brightest people in the company can be challenged to solve critical problems.

Details

Managing Service Quality: An International Journal, vol. 8 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0960-4529

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2005

Peter A.C. Smith

This article seeks to propose that the success of an organization's knowledge‐sharing strategy and the magnitude of its strategic capital are critically dependent on its…

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3379

Abstract

Purpose

This article seeks to propose that the success of an organization's knowledge‐sharing strategy and the magnitude of its strategic capital are critically dependent on its having the capability to visualize relationship‐networks among its employees, and means to identify and leverage, as appropriate, patterns of positive or negative influence.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on the author's own experiences and those of other authors in the same field.

Findings

There seems no evidence in the literature that programs can be mounted to deliberately develop opinion leaders by helping them acquire such meta‐capabilities or assume archetypical characteristics.

Originality/value

Utilization of the NVA‐based approach described here will provide an enhanced real‐world understanding of how the various sectors and network layers of an organization coalesce, and relate to one another, at micro and macro levels.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 12 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2002

Peter A.C. Smith and Meenakshi Sharma

Contends that organizations designed according to current theories require that traits of leadership and personal responsibility be developed in employees at all levels of…

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1568

Abstract

Contends that organizations designed according to current theories require that traits of leadership and personal responsibility be developed in employees at all levels of the organization, not just the formal leaders. Asserts that to develop these traits, organizations must strike an adequate balance between rationality/technical efficiency and non‐rational factors such as emotion. States that organizations currently operate with a facade of rationality, ignoring emotional reality. Argues that leverage for such change lies in working at team/group level meetings, changing the quality of interactions to enhance authenticity and create emotional openness. Maintains that action learning has so far proven the best vehicle for releasing emotional energy into the workplace if facilitators are utilized who can enrich the action learning process with skills drawn from disciplines such as counseling, Gestalt, psychodynamics, and psychoanalysis. Claims that familiarity with the principles of Eastern philosophies is also helpful.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 9 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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