Adaptation and Context
Edited by Anders Örtenblad
Chapter 2: What do we mean by ‘learning organization’?
The concept of the learning organization gained an increased interest as the book The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, authored by the American scholar Peter Senge, was published in 1990. Although the term ‘learning organization’ had occurred in book titles several years earlier (e.g. Garratt 1987), Senge is often considered to be the learning organization guru (see e.g. Jackson 2001), and some even speak of the learning organization as if it was his idea (e.g. Carson et al. 1999). The literature on the learning organization, with a few exceptions that so far seem to have received limited impact (e.g. Ng 2009), has not been able to take the concept or the field much further from how the idea was initially defined and presented. Accordingly, the literature on the relevance of the learning organization idea to organizations in various contexts continues to use old, well-known frameworks, such as Senge’s five disciplines from 1990 (e.g. Bak 2012; Bui & Baruch 2012; Elkin et al. 2011), Watkinsand Marsick’s Dimensions of the Learning Organization Questionnaire(DLOQ) from the mid-1990s1 (e.g. Abu-Tineh2011; Ali 2012; Dirani 2009;Jamali et al. 2009; Wang & Yang 2007), Pedler, Burgoyne and Boydell’s learning company characteristics from 1991 (e.g. Díez et al. 2005) and Garvin’s perspective of the learning organization from 1993 (e.g. Bauman2005).
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