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Learning Organization: Literature Review

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Business
Wordcount: 3565 words Published: 13th Aug 2018

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Introduction of learning organization

A learning organization is an organization that is continually expanding its capacity to create its future. For such an organization, it is not enough to merely survive. ‘Survival learning’ or what is more often termed adaptive learning is important indeed it is necessary. But for a learning organization adapting learning must be joined by ‘generative learning’ learning that enhances our capacity to create.

Learning organization where people continually expand their capacity to create the result they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free and where people are continually learning to see the whole to gather.

Types of learning

Level 1:- learning facts, knowledge, processes and know situation procedures apply to know where changes are minor.

Level 2:- learning new job skills that are transferable to other situations applies to new situations where existing responses need to be changed bringing in outside expertise is a useful tool here.

Leel 3:- learning to adopt-applies to more dynamic situation where the solution need developing experimentation and deriving lessons from success and failure is the mode of learning here.

Level 4:- learning to learn-Is about innovation and creativity, designing the future rather than merely adapting to it. This is where assumptions are challenged and knowledge is reframed.

Characteristic of a learning organization

Learning culture:- An organizational climate that natures learning. There is a strong similarity with those characteristic associated with innovation.

Processes:- processes that encourage interaction across boundaries. These are infrastructure, development and management processes, as opposed to business operational processes.

Tools and techniques:- method that aid individual and group learning, such as creativity and problem solving techniques.

Skills and motivation:- to learn and adapt.

The art and practice of the learning organization and the fifth discipline field book: strategies and tools for building ad earning organization explain that there are five disciplines, which must be mustered when introducing such as organization.

Systems thinking:- the ability to see the big picture and to distinguish patterns instead of conceptualizing change as isolated event systems thinking needs the other four shift from being unconnected to interconnect to the whole and from blaming our problems on something external to a realization that how we operate our actions can create problems.

Personal mastery:- begins “by becoming committed to lifelong learning” and is the spiritual cornerstone of a learning organization. Personal mastery involves being more realistic, focusing on becoming the personal possible and to strive for a sense of commitment and excitement in our careers to facilitate realization of potential.

Mental models:- they must be managed because they do prevent new and powerful insights and organizational practices from becoming implemented. The process begins with self reflection, unearthing deeply held belief structure and generalizations and understand how they dramatically influence the way we operate in our own lives. Until there is realization and focus on openness, real change can never be implementation.

Building shared vision:- visions cannot be dictated because it begins with the personal visions of individual employees, who may not agree with the leaders visions what is needed is a genuine visions that elicits commitment in good times and bad and has the power to bind an organization together.

Team learning:- is important because currently, modern organization operate on the basis of teamwork, which means that organization cannot learn if team members do not come together and learn. It is a process of developing the ability to create desired results, to have a goal in mind and work together to attain it.

Review of literature

The literature I reviewed about learning organization fell in to these categories:

  • The “founders”
  • Real world definitions and critiques
  • Promoting continuous improvement, innovation, stakeholder collaboration
  • Organization learning and organizational outcomes
  • Today’s approaches for building organization learning

The founders

Where did the concept of a learning organization that helped create and disseminate this concept. In literature and conversation with practitioners the authors whose names came up again and again as “founders” of sorts of this approaches are peter senge, chris aggris, Donald schon and marguret wheatly also highlighted in this section is shana ratner’s description of the fundamental shift in learning approaches in the latter half of the 20th century has given rise to exiting new field like organizational learning.

Peter senga: peter senga is considered by most to be the “father” of organizational learning senga is a director at innovation associates a Cambridge consulting firm and advises government and educational leader in centre of global changes like South Africa. Senga’s massage of growth and prosperity holds strong appeal for today’s business leaders. This research centre at MIT the centre for organizational learning started in 1990 has 18 corporate sponsors, included AT and T, ford, Motorola and feudal express. Each contributes $80,000 a year to create learning organization pilot programme with the help of senga and his colleagues.

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Senga created something new and powerful by putting them together. Unfortunately, at first glance these ideas can seem ambiguous. As a result only a small percentage of the huge number of people who bought the book has read it and only a small percentage of those have carried out its ideas. To make the learning more accessible to seasoned managers, senga and several co-consultants published. The fifth discipline field book, “hands-on” work.

The field book explains that anyone who wants to be the part of a learning organization must first go through a personal change, senga kleines etal 1994. This means that if some members of the group like to tell people what to do and are to busy to listen they must be willing to change themselves. Senga and his colleagues consult with organizations, where they elaborate set of personal awareness exercise with names like dialogues, the container and the ladder of influence.

Chris argyris:- Chris argyris is also lauded for disseminating pioneering ideas about now learning can improve organizational development success. He is probably known for distinguish between learning that challenges the status quo, called singe loop learning.

Double loop learning depends on the internal commitment by employees to seek transparency and personal responsibility in the work place for single loop learning, people are good programmed to believe that transparency and truth are good ideas, but only when they are not threatening, he says in this article “good communication that blocks learning” argyris says that the new but now familiar techniques of corporate communication like focus groups, surveys, management by walking around, can block organization learning even as they help solve certain kinds of problems. These techniques, he explains, promote defensive behaviour by encouraging employees to believe that their proper role is to criticize management while the proper role of management is to take action and fix whatever is wrong. He recommends that managers challenge employees to think constantly and creatively about the needs of organizational. By applying these ideas to individuals or group performance reviews, managers can create an incentive for employees to increase their commitment to continuous non-routine learning and for implementing strategy.

Donald A. Section

For about 40 years, don schon wrote about and consulted in the field of organizational learning many of schon’s many schon’s insights, though not distinguished in the management literature, continue to have a significant on the conceptualization of organizational learning.

Schon’s work can be organized in the four themes:(a)his concept of inquiry as reflection in action.(b)constructing a learning dialectic in organization (c)the practice of learning how to learn and(d)his commitment a new educational paradigm that teaches practitioner how to reflect in action.

When compared to the current literature on organizational learning, schon’s deep integration of knowing and doing can be seen as pioneering work. Must literature on organizational learning over time. According to schon’s approach, action and reflection should occur at the same time so that learning is necessarily embodied in concrete situation.

Some comment that schon does not emphasize how rare it is for persons to solicit feedback about mismatches between their principles and their actions. “the fact that such learning may be extraordinarily useful.

Margaret whitely: Margaret Whitley’s book leadership and the new science learning about organization from an orderly universe has been recognized as introducing a new paradigm for organizational development that involves “reintegration” of society.

(Dennard 1996), (Brown 1993).

Wheatley offers these are ideas:-

  • Everything is a constant process of discovery and creating.
  • Life uses messes to get well ordered solutions.
  • Life is intent on finding what works, not what is right.
  • Life creates more possibilities as it engages with opportunities.
  • Life is attracted to order.
  • Life organizes around identity.
  • Everything participates in the creation and evolution of its neighbours.

Reflecting on her Wheatley vividly demonstrates how organization is living entities and that learning and change strengthen their structure and their communities.

Shana rather an old and new answer to how we learn:-Shana rasher’s 1997 “emerging issues in learning communities” offers an insightful description of the fundamental shift in learning approaches in the latter half on the 20th century that is giving rise to existing new field such as learning, collaborative learning and organizational learning. This shift, from thinking of learning as a transaction to learning as a process. This shift eliminates the separation of teacher from student and replaces it with dialogue between teacher and student to encourage joint responsibility for learning and growth.

(burkey 1993).

Old and new answers to how we learn (ratner 1997)

Old answer

New answer

Knowledge is thing that is transferred from one person to another.

Knowledge is objective and certain.

Learners receive knowledge.

We all learn in the same way.

Knowledge is a relationship between the knower and the known: knowledge is created through this relationship.

Knowledge is subjective and provisional.

Learners create knowledge.

There are many different learning styles.






Background – Southwest Airlines has built its culture and its reputation inside out. Its value a happy workforce, and believes that its 3200 employees will keep customer come back. Since its beginning as a small, three jet airlines, southwest leadership, including co- founder and current board chairman Herbert D. Kelleher and President colleen Barrett, has relied on company values – concern, respect and caring for employees and customer.

Company Consider Learning Organisation because of following reason:-

Company must provide the level of knowledge and information that allows the employees to “act like owners”. Southwest Airlines provides daily news updates via internet; the CEO records a weekly telephone message for all the employees and the company communicates detailed financial information called “knowing the score” on quarterly earnings. More than 14% of outstanding shares of stock are held by southwest employees.

Southwest communicates with employees everyday through news on their internet every week through a telephone news line, every month with 32 page magazine, every week quarter through the financial knowing the score message very year through a series of town hall meetings.

Communicators must nature their corporate culture so that employees understand how their behaviour contributes how their organisation is judged. In its monthly news letter LUV Lines, southwest features employees who have been nominated by their peers for “Wining Spirit” recognition. These outstanding employees are modelling the type of behaviour that result in a remarkable vs ordinary experience for a customer or follow employees.

Learning excellence: Southwest Airline approach

A bias for action

Close to customer

Autonomy and entrepreneurship

Productivity through people.

Hands on value driven

Stick to the knitting

Simple from lean staff

Simultaneous loose tight properties

Southwest Airlines one of the most successful airlines n the low cost market segment is the role model for many other low cost airlines. Like Ryan air and easy set.

Five specific elements of southwest Airline are strategy, structure, processes and reward.

Processes: Southwest Airlines has an open – door tradition. Herb Kelleher is known to stay in the bar until four in the morning with a mechanic to hear what he is got to say. Employees are stimulated to come up with ideas and there receive all the necessary support from their management to try out different things. The on board safety demonstration, which has been turned into a complete act to attain the attention of passengers.

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Rewards-besides the usual package of secondary employment benefits, like free airline tickets, profit sharing etc. employees of the month election. South west airline has another usual way to pay attention to their work force .In the lobby of SWA corporate headquarter at Dallas love field airport .there is a big port falling messy “The people of SWA are “the creator “of what we have become and what we will be. Our people transformed an idea into a legend .that legend will continue to grow only so long as it is nourished.

People-SWA has its own “university for people” where 25000 new employees are trained every year .the selection criteria for recruitment are much more based on attitude than on knowledge. As a result SWA is now regarded as friend list airline in us.

The three important factors-these are those factor that show how SWA manager to keep the spirit high

The relationship between management and workforce.

The training at university for people decreases hierarchical thinking.

Herb Kelleher, one of the founder of SWA and an important leader for the company. His vision, humour and hand on mentality are very inspiring for the entire employee in SWA.

Suggestion to SWA

Give reward also in the form of profit sharing, give bonus and package plan etc. .It also motivate the employees

After studying the whole organisation I come to know that in motivational problem are there so company should have good leadership

After herb SWA has not a leader same like him so company should try to make a leader as him which helps the company a lot.

Reason of Google as learning organisation-

Google is the most goggled company in business today. Just as IBM & coca-cola were the “best companies” in youth and everyone wants to pattern them after Google now.

First, it is clear from our research that Google is relying heavily on innovation to grow. The companies hire the “best & brightest” and have created a work environment which is the envy of any generation X and Y employee. Government cafeterias, flexible working conditions and the 20% policy which enable each and every employee to spend up to one day per week working on a special and innovative project of their own. Few companies today can afford to lavish such luxuries on every employee.

Second, the company has also built a culture of product innovation. Dozens of new products & services are available from Google today & engineers are encouraged to continuously newones.engineers who finds bugs in others engineer’s products are encouraged to check out the code line and suggest a fix.

While most of the “new products “from Google never became market leader, some do. Google finance, Goggle maps & Gmail are all products which entered the market with strong entrenched compitition.through innovation and strong execution each of these products have take on tremendous market share in a short part and when the company sees a tremendous market opportunity to enter through acquision. Google takes the plunge(YouTube & blogger)

Following are the points that consider Google as learning organisation very truly-

  1. Greater Motivation
  2. The Workforce Is More Flexible.
  3. People Are More Creative.
  4. Improved Social Interaction.
  5. Knowledge Sharing.
  6. Interdependency
  7. The Breakdown of Traditional Communication Barriers.
  8. Customer Relation.
  9. Information Resources
  10. Innovation & Creativity


  1. Google should level out the workload
  2. Use only reliable, thoroughly tested technology that serves you people & processes
  3. Make decision slowly by consensus through considering all the option and implementing the decision rapidly.

Introduction to 3M-

At 3M, we pair imaginative thinking with science-based technology to create globally-renowned products. We lead scores of markets: health care, safety, office products, and transportation – to name a few. So what’s our secret? It’s simple: We approach real-world problems with our array of technologies to satisfy customers. Leading this process are some of the world’s best and brightest employees who share a commitment to innovation and excellence

Learning environment of 3M

3M is a learning organisation committed to continuous improvement in both the company’s result & each individual’s performance. A learning environment is more than a comprehensive training program. It is a philosophy that says that learning is a part of every employee’s job every day.

Continuous learning gives all employees greater opportunity to realize their potential .in a learning environment the role of the employee is to be a continuous learner, the role of the manager is to reinforce learning & model learning behaviour and the role of the company is to create system that allow cross functional knowledge sharing throughout the organisation.

3M supports learning through on the job training, traditional class room setting, online learning & functional communication of practice .each employee is responsible for his or her individual growth plan. The goal of our commitment to learning is engaged employee who understand how their action contribute to 3M’s success & make decision as if they owned the business.


The reward system as a learning frame has high effect on learning environment according to employees.

There is an equity/balance between efforts and rewards.

In SWA organisation new employees are trained every year.

In SWA organisation selection criteria for recruitment are much more based on attitude than on knowledge.

In Google organization monetary or other incentives are given to employees in order to increase their motivation level.

In 3M organization and the relation between employees and managers is good. Employees feel like they work in safe environment.


After study the whole concept of organisation we learn many things regarding learning organisation. Learning organisation is very wider concept and learning helps organisation to achieve success and create new things. Learning organisation innovate things to world. In this assignment I also study learning organisation like SWA & Google. They are the main example of learning organisation these companies’ gives ideas & products. Because of their learning behaviour these companies get success and the growth rate of learning organisation never down because they change their policies when requires. It is good for companies so according to me every company became learning organisation .it is good for economy as well as companies and we get innovative things.


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