Organizational Learning

What is Organizational Learning?

Organizational learning theory is concerned with how learning takes place in organizations. It focuses on collective learning but takes into account the proposition made by Argyris (1992) that organizations do not perform the actions that produce the learning; it is individual members of the organization who behave in ways that lead to it, although organizations can create conditions that facilitate such learning. The concept of organizational learning recognizes that the way in which this takes place is affected by the context of the organization and its cultureCulture The shared experiences of people, including their languages, values, customs, beliefs and more. It also includes worldviews, ways of knowing, and ways of communicating. Culture is dynamic, fluid, and reciprocal. Elements of culture are passed on from generation to generation, but culture also changes from one generation to the next (American Evaluation Association 2011; Deen, Huskey & Parker, 2015)..

Organizational learning is concerned with the development of new knowledge or insights that have the potential to influence behavior. It has been defined by Marsick (1994) as a process of “Coordinated systems change, with mechanisms built in for individuals and groups to access, build and use organizational memory, structure and culture to develop long-term organizational capacity.” Organizational learning takes place within the wide institutional context of inter-organizational relationships and “refers broadly to an organization’s acquisition of understanding, know-how, techniques and practices of any kind and by any means.” (Argyris and Schon, 1996).

Other important resources on Organizational Learning:


Argyris, C (1992) On Organizational Learning, Blackwell, Cambridge, MA.

Argyris, C and Schon, D A (1996) Organizational Learning: A theory of action perspective, Addison Wesley, Reading, MA.