learning organization

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A learning organization is one that prompts its own evolution in order to adapt to its ecosystem. Learning organizations do not wait around for the marketplace to eventually do them in. Peters and Waterman, 1982, p 110

Learning organization is a systemic theory of strategy. As a systemic theory, compared to strategic choice, it also takes account of positive as well as negative feedback. From the systems dynamics perspective the dynamic is that o f non-equilibrium in which unexpected outcomes appear. However, this theory holds that when managers understand the positive and negative feedback structure of the whole system they will be able to identify leverage points through which they can control it. This theory does not explore the implications of radical unpredictability. Here, too, the cause and effect take nonlinear forms in which the connections might be distant over time and space. Again, little attention is paid to micro-diversity and successful interaction is still assumed to be harmonious, although this theory does recognize obstacles to the achievement of such harmony.

For a view of four theories of strategy, see strategy. For a view of the psychology involved with each one see psychology.

Senge's view of a learning organization --
A learning organization is built to continually adapt and learn in order to evolve, responding to changes in its environment, and grow. It is a model for what an organization should be in order to survive and thrive in a dynamic economy. In Peter Senge's (1990) view it is built from a combination of five disciplines: building shared vision, mental models, team learning, personal mastery, and systems thinking. See discipline for its definition and fifth discipline for an explanation of the five disciplines of a learning organization.