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Management Development


What is the difference between organisational learning and a learning organisation and what are the barriers to organisational learning? How do you overcome these barriers?
ekua sam

3 Responses

  1. Arian Associates Ltd
    The two earlier answers were very academically based.
    In general terms a Learning Organisation is a supporter of development of the individuals it employs, always keeping an eye on mapping the learning in with its business objectives.
    Organisational Learning is simply the learning carried out within the organisation, but it does not always fit in with the company’s business objectives.

  2. organisational learning organisation (?)
    I tend to agree with Anita. Organisational learning is what an organisation learns, which is not necessarily the same as what it could or should learn. A learning organisation learns from its mistakes and is also proactive in moving in to new territories as far as its development is concerned. Chris Argyris has written much on this. Other areas to read up on is The 5th Discipline by Peter Senge, and also the recent research on ‘The Edge of Chaos’ – Richard Pascale’s recent book ‘Surfing The Edge of Chaos” is a good place to start, despite some differences in his interpretation of research over the past 40 years on this. I can point you at much more on chaos and more appropriately complex adaptive systems as it forms part of my MSc dissertation in management development & training!


    Martin Schmalenbach

    What an interesting question? I think there are many different ways of answering this. From my experiences and understanding I would say that a key part of becoming a learning organisation is the development of organisational learning. Often individuals go on courses and develop themselves, the real value is when this learning is transferred into the fabric of the organisation. You need to read about ‘Double Loop Learning’ a model by a chap called Chris Argyris that looks at this very issue. Organisational learning is a very complex issue and there are many, many barriers to it such as: an understanding of what it is; a real wish by those in the organisation to develop the organisation; the natural resistance to change (just a few for starters). Organisations do learn naturally, some better than others. To build a learning organisation is a long term process – not a short term plan.

    If you are interested in knowing more, we do work with individual organisations and groups and help managers to ensure that they embed their learning into their organsiations.

    I hope this goes some way to helping your thinking. I’ll be interested in how others interpret this.

    Anita Wild

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