A contextual theory of learning and the learning organization


  • Povl Erik Jensen

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark
    • Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy, Copenhagen Business School, Solbjergvej 3, DK-2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark.
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Learning and accumulation of new knowledge in an organization always require two transformation processes: one transformation process from data to information and another from information to (new) knowledge. This is so because only information, and not knowledge, can be shared and spread among the members of the organization. This article describes these transformations processes as social processes that take place in a concrete context. The processes lead from Data→Information→Knowledge→Action→Learning→New Knowledge. But not all these processes have the same progression or produce the same kind of results. One can differentiate between single-loop, double-loop and triple-loop learning.

These findings are analysed for the consequences they provide for the learning individual and the learning organization. The qualitative difference between the learning organization and other organizations is shown to be the coordination and cooperation that the individuals perform in a close working relationship. Against this background achievements and shortcomings of attempts to become a learning organization are summarized. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.