The complexity of Organisational Learning classification and science

However a variety of names have been attributed to the modalities, approaches and practices of organizational learning which complicates the documentation and dissemination of its further advancements.

For Arie de Geus (1997) the continuous learning process is one of the core and permanent functions of the natural Organizational Learning of all living systems, regardless if anyone is aware of it taking place or not, even though it is directly linked with high performance and consequently with profitability and longevity. Lopez et al (2005) further supports this argument through a research revealing that Organizational Learning is directly related to competitiveness and performance. Senge (1990) names this approach as Organizational Learning and Systems Thinking or self-organization model, providing similar evidence of direct link to profitability, competitiveness and performance. Dee Hock (n.d) supports the same but names the model as chaordic design. Nonaka et al (2006) again supports the same but for him the model is named knowledge management or organizational knowledge creation theory. Forester (1961) call it Systems Dynamics but again provides the same elements, approaches and benefits. van Heck, E. & Vervest, P. (2007) call it smart business networks. We could continue with this list for at least one more page.

This phenomenon is creating huge problems on the proper documentation, scientific advancement as well as broad implementation of this cutting edge approach nevertheless, it is clear that this approach is good for business, profitable and beneficial.

The Handbook for Organizational Learning and Knowledge counts 979 pages and more than thirty scientists were working for six years (Dierkes, et al, 2003) to convene/consolidate the up-to-that-date existing literature. Searching for Organizational Learning commercial literature, Amazon returns 13,865 results and 323 Handbooks; the amount is devastating. In addition, numerous research papers, theories and models have been written within the Organizational Learning multidisciplinary context of the academic literature and yet there is hardly any practical methodology that can be used directly without the need for detailed knowledge of the surrounding theory.

Lόpez, S.P., Peόn, J.M.M. & Ordás, C.J.V. (2005) ‘Organizational learning as a determining factor in business performance’, The Learning Organization, 12 (3), pp. 227-245

de Geus, A. (1997) The Living Company: Habits for Survival in a Turbulent Business Environment. Boston: Harvard Business School Press

Senge, P. (1990) The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. Oxford: Doubleday

Chaordic Commons (n.d). Overview, The Chaordic Commons Portal [Online]. Available from: (Accessed on 2 August 2011)

Nonaka, I., von Krogh, G. & Voelpel, S.C. (2006) ‘Organizational knowledge creation theory: evolutionary paths and future advances’, Organization Studies, 27 (8), pp. 1179-1208, Sage Premier 2009

van Heck, E. & Vervest, P. (2007) ‘Smart business networks: how the network wins’, Communications of the ACM, 50 (6), pp. 28-37

Dierkes, M, Berthoin Antal, A., Child, J. and Nonaka, I. (2003) ‘Organizational Learning & Knowledge’ Oxford University Press, New York