Classifying Organisational Learning – Elite Series

Shipton (2006), through her article titled ‘Cohesion or Confusion? Towards a typology for organizational learning research’, makes an attempt to create a comparative framework where the huge variety of organizational learning literature can be classified. The author rightly identifies the need for a critical inclusive review of the vast existing literature related to the organizational learning field as well as the danger for researchers or practitioners to be unaware of the broader work and insights existing in the field, and forms the article’s objective as to “compare and contrast approaches in order to analyze similarities and dissimilarities” as well as the deriving future research challenges for each one (Shipton, 2006). As rightfully Shipton points out, the field of organizational learning is so broad and complex that it would had been impossible for a researcher or even group of researchers to identify one central point and start from there, instead we observe that just like in the science of biology, each researcher focused on one specific point to depart from.

Learning and development is a core part of evolution which by definition is a highly complex and slow phenomenon; perhaps the most complex of all. Consequently, organizational learning interrelated to the evolution of complex organizations on their own merit, could had been only studied by human beings if a specific focus or departure point existed; and not one but many did.

In 2011 we can count already fifty years of research on a huge variety of complementary issues related to organizational learning and an overwhelming amount of literature. In my opinion classification of approaches is no longer of use at the point reached. Instead, an inclusive review or a monograph that will make a first attempt to put all the pieces of the organizational learning puzzle in place would be highly valuable.

Systems Thinking is a term to indicate one of the approaches within the wide and diverse Organizational Learning approach. Systems Thinking indicates that the approach to Organizational Learning has as a starting point the Systems Dynamics science (MIT Sloan School of Management).

Shipton, H. (2006) ‘Cohesion or confusion? Towards a typology for organizational learning research.’ International Journal of Management Reviews, 8 (4), pp. 233-252