Handbook of Research on the Learning Organization
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Handbook of Research on the Learning Organization Adaptation and Context

Adaptation and Context

  • Elgar original reference

Edited by Anders Örtenblad

This timely Handbook establishes the ‘contextualization’ of the learning organization idea as a research field. In contrast to much of the previous literature, which has approached the learning organization as a panacea that every organization could and should adopt, this major new Handbook puts the learning organization into context. It examines the relevance of the learning organization idea to organizations in various specific contexts, employing examples from a wide variety of cultures including China and Islamic nations, and from industries as diverse as the police force, care services for the elderly and family firms.
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Chapter 13: Family firms as learning organizations

Naomi Birdthistle and Thomas N. Garavan

Extract

The purpose of this chapter is to discuss the relevance of the learning organization idea to the context of family firms and identify how different types of learning organizations fit the family firm context. We approach this task by first of all providing a brief overview of the scope and importance of family firms. We then focus on the particular contingencies of family firms and explore how different types of learning organizations fit these contextual contingencies. We proceed on the assumption that the learning organization idea has value in the context of family firms. We also take the position that relatively few family firms can currently be described as learning organizations. Our discussion of learning organizations is family firms and is framed within a conceptual model proposed by Örtenblad (2004). He suggests four types of the learning organization: organizational learning, learning at work, learning structure and climate for learning. This is accepted as an important conceptualization of the learning organization. We argue that the learning organization idea has value in enhancing the performance of family firms. Where family firms possess a greater capacity to learn they will achieve greater innovation and stronger financial performance (Slater & Narver 1995).

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