Adaptation and Context
Edited by Anders Örtenblad
Chapter 19: ‘The learning organization’ – drop the dead metaphor! Performing organizing and learning in networks (so to speak)
There is much discussion about what is in effect the definition of a learning organization, with questions such as ‘What is a learning organization?’ or ‘Is this a learning organization?’ or ‘What is the difference between learning organization and organizational learning?’ Much of the discussion around those questions seems to ignore what we might mean by ‘learning’. In the first section of this chapter we will present a framework for thinking about this, and then apply it to three possible broad forms of organizing for learning and problem solving – only one of which, we sense, is capable of tackling what we will be describing as ‘wicked problems’. We will suggest that whether or not these are usefully defined as learning organizations depends on the concept of ‘definition’, which itself can be mapped onto the same threefold framework. In that sense we are adapting the definition of ‘the learning organization’, as well as the somewhat ontological question as to the concept of ‘definition’ itself.
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