Learning from Organizational Experience
Author(s)Carroll, John Stephen; Rudolph, Jenny W.; Hatakenaka, Sachi
Learning-in-action, the cyclical interplay of thinking and doing, is increasingly important for organizations as environments and required capabilities become more complex and interdependent. Organizational learning involves both a desire to learn and supportive structures and mechanisms. We draw upon three case studies from the nuclear power and chemical industries to illustrate a four-stage model of organizational learning: (1) local stage of decentralized learning by individuals and work groups, (2) control stage of fixing problems and complying with rules, (3) open stage of acknowledgement of doubt and motivation to learn, and (4) deep learning stage of skillful inquiry and systemic mental models. These four stages differ on whether learning is primarily single-loop or doubleloop, i.e., whether the organization can surface and challenge the assumptions and mental models underlying behavior, and whether learning is relatively improvised or structured. The case studies illustrate how organizations learn differently from experience, the details of learning practices, and the nature of stage transitions among learning practices.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering Systems Division
ESD Working Papers;ESD-WP-2003-01.11-ESD Internal Symposium