A Learning Organization is an organization that is skilled at creating, acquiring and transferring knowledge and modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights. (Bateman p. 170)
This article was written by Russ Vince of the School of Management at the University of Bath in the UK. He attempts to explain an ongoing paradox of a Learning Organization. He hypothesizes that the environment that needs to exist in a Learning Organization can simultaneously create an environment that could actually prevent or hinder the objective of learning. He cites three tensions, “Inhibited freedom arises from the tension between habitual behavior that restricts their ability to learn, and the freedom to enact their authority in the service of learning. Detached engagement arises from defensiveness. On the one hand, defenses reduce the risk that emotions will overwhelm the task of learning, but in doing so, they remove the creative potential of those emotions to inform and support learning. Ambivalent enthusiasm arises from an active lack of interest in experimenting with the possibilities and pitfalls of leadership and followership roles, while seeming to be enthusiastic about it.” (Vince p. 278-279) It appears that our own personality, emotions fears can somehow play a role in how efficiently a learning organization can be.
When you first consider the idea of a Learning Organization, it makes complete sense and should be the goal of all organizations. The Learning component seems to be an obvious advantage that all organizations would benefit from. As with most things, the Devil is in the details. We must first consider or more accurately realize that companies are made of people. Those people must be able to agree on what it is to be a Learning Organization and equally important; how to foster discussions in a way that maintains the spirit and goals of becoming a Learning Organization. Both articles discussed the potential drawbacks that may occur in a Learning Organization and attempt to improve on the design by further understanding the nuance the people bring to idea communication. It is clear in both articles that tension can come from offering input to the group in an effort to create value that allows the company as a whole to learn how to make better decisions. This where both articles agree that these underlying tensions must be effective dealt with in order to improve the overall efficiency of the organization’s ability to learn. Russ Vince’s article focusses more on the acknowledgement of the existence of these such tensions, whereas Antonacopoulou spends more time discussing how to overcome these tensions. He states, “Sensuous Organizational Learning exposes what lies in the space-in-between loops of learning. We have accounted for the attentiveness, alertness, awareness, appreciation, anticipation, alignment, activation and agility as dimensions of the 8As framework, presenting sensuousness and sensoriality as integral to the New Learning Organization. By drawing attention to the paradigm of emplacement we sought to extend the focus on how learning is enacted and embodied by individuals, groups and the organization at large through a greater focus on tensions.” (Antonacopoulou p. 315) He provides three principles that would facilitate this by using “– Institutional Reflexivity, High Agility Organizing, Learning Leadership – that express the commitment of the Learning Organization to serve the common good.” (Antonacopoulou p. 315) He feels that these three principles will help overcome the tensions that make Learning Organizations less efficient.
As I write this, I am asking myself how to incorporate a Learning Organization into the Bible. The articles both discussed barriers that come from inside the people who are supposed to be in charge of the learning process, with one article discussing how to overcome some of these tensions. The Bible speaks a lot about those who believe and those who do not believe in God as well as what may be the underlying reasons for both groups of people. The articles and the Bible understand that working together and sharing ideas may not always be easy, but it is always worth it. Finding and understanding personal barriers to learning and therefore teaching are what need to be broken down so that the whole organization can function more efficiently.
Bateman, Thomas S., Snell, Scott A. & Konopaske, Rob (2020) M: Management Sixth Edition McGraw Hill
Vince, R. (2018), "The learning organization as paradox: Being for the learning organization also means being against it", The Learning Organization, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 273-280.
Antonacopoulou, E., Moldjord, C., Steiro, T. and Stokkeland, C. (2019), "The New Learning Organisation: PART I – Institutional Reflexivity, High Agility Organising and Learning Leadership", The Learning Organization, Vol. 26 No. 3, pp. 304-318
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