Learning Organizations

Learning Organizations

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Organization that facilitates the learning of all its members and continuously transforms itself to achieve superior competitive performance. It views its success in the future as it’s based on continuous learning and adaptive behavior. It therefore becomes skilled at creating, acquiring, interpreting, retaining and transferring knowledge and modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights. [1]

The concept of the learning organization holds that, to transform themselves, organizations should first be able to create, acquire and transform knowledge. Only then do they form the basis on which to modify practice to reflect the new learning.[2] In this way, organizations enhance their capacity to embrace and manage change as well as achieve renewal.[3] To become a successful learning organization, there should be commitment to learning on the part of the organization itself and the realization of the centrality of individuals to the change process. In other words, organizations must engage with individual perspectives as a basis for initiating change. These perspectives may include personal mastery (individual commitment to lifelong learning) mental models (the capacity of individuals to be aware of and share their own thinking and assumptions) and shared vision (the alignment of an individual and organizational vision). Managers play a key role in providing the broad conceptual framework for a learning organization and in supporting individual efforts to adopt its principles and practices. They are therefore the most visible advocates - of the learning organization (they are described by Peter Senge as the researcher and designer in a learning organization) who research the organization to uncover the internal and external forces that drive it and then design the learning processes that eventually drive change.[4]

In a learning organization, individuals (experts in their roles) are encouraged are encouraged to take responsibility for identifying their own learning needs including external barriers that may impair the potential for change to occur. Furthermore, the HR professional in a learning organization is not a passive conduit for management - led HR policies but rather a catalyst consultant involved with the alignment of organizational and individual learning objectives.

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  1. www.krii.com(7 March 2008), www.mwls.co.uk(8 July 2008), Garvin, D.A., Building a Learning Organization, 1993, Harvard Business Review on Knowledge Management, Harvard Business School Press
  2. Senge, M. Peter. The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1990.
  3. Owen M. John in Mathison, Sandra. Encyclopaedia of Evaluation, pp 225, Ed. University of British Columbia. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2005.
  4. Senge, M. Peter. The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1990.