Care > Learning Organization


Learning organizations [are] organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together. (Senge 1990: 3)

The Learning Company is a vision of what might be possible. It is not brought about simply by training individuals; it can only happen as a result of learning at the whole organization level. A Learning Company is an organization that facilitates the learning of all its members and continuously transforms itself. (Pedler et. al. 1991: 1)

Learning organizations are characterized by total employee involvement in a process of collaboratively conducted, collectively accountable change directed towards shared values or principles. (Watkins and Marsick 1992: 118)

Smith, Mark K. The Learning Organization,

The term learning organization is the label now being used for an integration of a set of ideas that have emerged from organizational research and practice over the past three or four decades on ways of organizing work in such a way that the often-conflicting demands of organizational effectiveness and individual job satisfaction are simultaneously met. The learning organization is, in many ways, a natural evolution of older participatory management themes of the 1970's and more recent emphasis on empowerment and self-managed work-teams.

A learning organization is not so much characterized by its altered structure (flatter and less hierarchal) and redesign of work (emphasis on teams), but by the transformation of the relationship of the organization to the individual and increased capacity for adaptation and change.

The previous overriding concern for control (e.g. motivate others, organize work for others, set goals for others, etc.) is replaced by a concern for learning by all organizational members on behalf of the organization. Learning about technical things and things about the external environment is greatly valued, as are learning things about itself including its organizational processes.

A learning organization expects its members to " . . . act as learning agents for the organization, responding to changes in the internal and external environment of the organization by detecting and correcting errors in organizational theory-in-use, and embedding the results of their inquiry in private images and shared maps of organization" (Argyris & Schon, 1979, p. 29).

Chase, Michael L.. Ph.D. The Learning Organization, July 2000.


Cohen, D. and Prusak, L. In Good Company. How social capital makes organizations work, Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2001. [View on Amazon.]

Garvin, D. A. Learning in Action. A guide to putting the learning organization to work, Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business School Press, 2000. [View on Amazon.]

Lesser, Eric L. Knowledge and Social Capital: Foundations and Applications, London: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2000. [View on Amazon.]

Senge, P. M. The Fifth Discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization, London: Random House, 1990. [View on Amazon.]

Senge, P. et. al. The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization, 1994. [View on Amazon.]

Senge, P., Kleiner, A., Roberts, C., Ross, R., Roth, G. and Smith, B. The Dance of Change: The Challenges of Sustaining Momentum in Learning Organizations, New York: Doubleday/Currency, 1999. [View on Amazon.]

Senge, P., Cambron-McCabe, N. Lucas, T., Smith, B., Dutton, J. and Kleiner, A. Schools That Learn. A Fifth Discipline Fieldbook for Educators, Parents, and Everyone Who Cares About Education, New York: Doubleday/Currency, 2000. [View on Amazon.]

  © 2002-2012 Heritage Stewardship     contact