Defining and Characterising a Learning Organisation

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Even though there is a reasonably common understanding of the necessity for learning organisations, there are fewer consensuses on precisely what a learning organisation implies (Schwandt Marquardt 1999). Garvin (1993) emphasises that several treatises of learning organisations have been deferential and ideal and loaded with almost magical expressions. Garvin (1993) provides a practical, if still rather unclear, the definition of the learning organisation as “… an organisation skilled in creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, and modifying its behaviour to reflect new knowledge and insights” (p.17).More idea into the definition of the learning organisation can be obtained by considering the kind of learning normally related with the notion of the learning organisation (Coghlan, Dromgoole, Joynt, Sorensen 2004): ‘individual, organisational, adaptive, and generative’ (Sessa London 2006: 28). The learning organisation, at its most fundamental level, is basically an organisation that cultivates processes of individual learning and fosters new potentials by either individuals or teams (Gilley Maycunich 2000b). The more intriguing notion is organisational learning. Most people think that people can learn in an organisation but there are those who question whether an organisation itself can learn (Lassey 1998). Organisation learning, as stated by Lawson and Ventriss (1992 as cited in Fry Griswold 2003: 311), is grounded on individual learning which is afterwards conveyed to other organisational members by understanding the individual learning in organisational strategies, cultural standards, organisational accounts and practices, and standard operating procedures (Fry Griswold 2003).Throughout the learning process, people will affect each other and their insights will ‘co-transform’. specifically, each insight will adjust and change in the perspective of other insights, and once modified, it will, consequently, have an effect on what takes place next (Salisbury 2008)