Origins and Principles of Organisational Learning

A contemporary review of the contributing research, theory, principles and practices which which underpins organisational learning and the learning organisation.

This paper surveys the main contributors to the theory and practice of organisational learning. It begins with a brief discussion on the origins of organisational learning and the environmental conditions, which have contributed to the recent rise in popularity in the methods and practices of the learning organisation. The contributions of Senge, (1990), Pedler M, Burgoyne J & Boydell T, (1996), Argyris C & Schon D, (1978, 1996) and Dixon N, (1999) to the organisational learning debate are compared and contrasted in order to gain an overview of the principles and practices involved.
“Personal mastery is the cornerstone of the learning organisation as depicted by Senge, (1990). It is seen as the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively. In this sense personal mastery is not about the acquisition of particular sets of skills and knowledge; rather it embodies two underlying processes which facilitate a more fundamental and transferable learning namely clarifying what is important and learning how to see reality more objectively. In practice the application of these processes at an individual level produces a “creative tension” resulting from the juxtaposition of vision (what is important and desirable) and a clear perspective of reality (the current position). Such creative tension produces a force with the energy necessary to bring the two together.”