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Learning Organizations

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Explanations of Learning Organizations

Online Articles

Information Archives/Resources


Mediagraphy with summaries

Peter Senge, leading writer in the area of building learning organizations, says in the introduction to The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, that it is the product of "the experimentation, research, writing, and invention of hundreds of people." In this mediagraphy we have chosen only a few to represent this growing field.

Argyris, Chris. On Organizational Learning. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1992. pp

This MIT scholar summarizes the issues of the field in a series of papers first published elsewhere, and presents questions that need further research.

Argyris, Chris. "Teaching Smart People How to Learn." Harvard Business Review. May-June 1991. pp99-109.

People can be taught to "identify the inconsistencies between their espoused and actual theories of action" that makes learning impossible. Reprinted in class readings book by French, Bell, and Zawacki.

The Beer Game Business Cycle. Videotape. 12 minutes. Nan Lux, Publications Ordering, System Dynamics Group, E40-294 MIT, Cambridge, MA 02142.

Shows Professor Sterman of MIT leading the Beer Game in a class.

Brown, Juanita and David Issacs. "Merging the Best of Two Worlds: The Core Processes of Organizations as Communities," in The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook (See below) pp508-17.

An organizational strategist with twenty years of experience, Brown believes organizations should be designed as communities that encourage emotional involvement by employees in a shared vision and overall strategy. Another article coauthored by her, Issacs, and Bryan Smith, in the same book is "Merging the Best of Two Worlds: The Core Processes of Organizations as Communities."

Dumaine, Brian. "Mr. Learning Organization." Fortune. October 17, 1992. pp147-53.

Profile of Peter Senge, Director of the MIT Center for Organizational Learning..

Handy, Charles. "Managing the Dream." in Sarita Chawla & John. Renesch (Eds). Learning Organizations: Developing Cultures for Tomorrow's Workplace. Portland, OR: Productivity Press, 1995. pp44-55.

Describes his concept of the "Wheel of Learning" and the five key ideas that keep the wheel turning along with the type of leadership needed.

Kanter, Rosabeth Moss. "Mastering Change". in Chawla & Renesch (See above) pp.70-83.

The central metaphor of the article is the croquet game in Alice in Wonderland. This is compared to the challenge that organizations face today when not only tools and technology keep changing, but also customers are more demanding and employees want more rewards and power now.

Kantor, Rosabeth Moss. Changemasters: Innovation and Entrepreneurship. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989. 432pp.

Extensive research in American companies forms the foundation of Kanter's work that demonstrates how organizations can change. Here is a link to Kanter's consulting firm - Goodmeasure.

Kofman, Fred and Peter M. Senge. "Communities of Commitment: The Heart of Learning Organizations." American Management Association. 1993. pp5-23.

Explores basic shifts in the guiding ideas of contemporary management. Reprinted in Chawla & Renesch. See above.

Senge, Peter M. The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. New York: Doubleday, 1990. 423pp.

Organizations need to do more that build teams. They must become innovate and goal-oriented. Senge suggests the way with his five disciplines: Systems thinking, Personal mastery, Mental models, Building shared vision, and Team learning.

Senge, Peter M. "The Leader's New Work: Building Learning Organizations." Sloan Management Review. Fall 1990. pp7-22.

It is no longer possible to "figure it all out at the top" so leaders need new skills to function as designers, teachers, and stewards. These skills include visioning, surfacing and testing mental models, and systems thinking. This article most of the main concepts of The Fifth Discipline.

Senge, Peter M, et al. The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization. New York: Doubleday, 1994. 593pp.

A pragmatic guide with ideas and approaches from 63 contributors to the field.

Senge, Peter M. Self Mastery. Videotape. 7 minutes. Chart House International, 221 River Ridge Circle, Burnsville, MN 55337. 1-800-811-5218.

Videoconference of Dr. Senge illustrating one of his five principles.

Sibbet, David and Juanita Brown. "Leading as Learning: Developing a Community Foundation." in John D. Adams (Ed). Transforming Leadership. Alexandria, VA: Miles River Press, 1986. pp287-304.

Tells the remarkable story of Martin Paley, who with the help of Brown, challenged The San Francisco Foundation to become creative and take risks. The article is told in the first person alternating between Martin and Juanita.

Watkins, Karen E. and Victoria J. Marsick. Sculpting the Learning Organization: Lessons in the Art and Science of Systemic Change.

Describes the factors leading to the need for learning organizations as well as the critical characteristics and action imperatives for creating one.

An annotated Bibliography on TQM, Learning Organizations, Culture, and HRD. 
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