Organizational Learning: Theory & Meaning Explained

Are you looking for the optimum solution for your organization to improvise the knowledge experience yourself? You need to understand the importance of learning in organizations planning to perform knowledge sharing or information sharing within the organization. The organizational learning is essential for almost all the companies to enhance the business performance quickly.



What is Organizational Learning?

According to Brown and Duguid, in 1991, organizational learning is nothing but the bridge between the operating and visionary. In simple words, the working process to transfer the knowledge within an organization is organizational learning.

Organizational Learning is a boon for almost all the organizations, no matter of size and type, as the knowledge creation, retention, and knowledge transfer within the organization enhance the business strength to a great extent. The definition of organizational learning includes three main items invokes as per the organization’s requirements. Conceive, Act, and Reflect.

What is Organizational Learning

Once the product or idea is ready to come up, the organization starts to implement those ideas or products to reflect it. It usually occurs typically through the reflection of both the learning process and outcomes that the organization conceives. In addition to it, the organizational learning consists of three essential functions.

  • Knowledge Creation
  • Knowledge Retention
  • Knowledge Transfer

It usually happens that there exists a lot of improvement in organizational learning, as enhancement in the business experience comes into action. During this period, the organization and the team members create a robust knowledge base platform to involve all the business topics to improve business performance.

Understanding the importance of creating an inspiring and innovative learning environment for an organization needs an appropriate organizational learning process. Individuals, teams, and even the whole organization benefit from such type of organizational learning.

Generally, there are four types of knowledge available within an organization.

Most commonly known by the name “community of one member.” The productivity and presentation of a worker improve automatically when they delve into learning new skill-sets. To increase the business benefit by using the individual learning process, an individual needs to share its ideas with colleagues. In other words, if that person resigns from that particular job, they carry their knowledge along with them, and it’s a significant loss to the organization.

When a group of individuals work together on a typical project, the sharing of new skills and activities creates an innovative learning culture in the organization. Social Psychological Awareness develops into the group members that help the teams grab the knowledge as part of the group and can have enormous effects on the whole team.

All this stuff we are discussing here is organizational learning. To make it simple and sweet, all these effective learning communities practices give to the organization. It is specifically related to the whole organization’s procedure to gain adequate knowledge related to its primary purpose and use that knowledge in the working environment.

It is nothing but one part of organizational learning. It refers to the learning and sharing of knowledge beween multiple branches/locations of the same multi-national organizations. It is a boon for big enterprises running in different locations.

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Organizational Learning Theory

Chris Argyris and Donald Schon are the most significant supporters of organizational learning (OL) theory. This theory’s primary intent is to compare the expected outcome and actual outcome and provide the comparison result that navigates the organizational inquiry process for further investigation and tries to solve the inconsistencies. It depends on the fact that the learning typically occurs only when an individual performs interaction to search and solve the problems

Now, what is organizational inquiry? An inquiry process helps an individual perform an interaction with other team members to take the learning process into action. So, learning is a practical and direct approach to such interactions.


Organizational Learning theory typically follows two operating modes:

  • Standardized section of the organization
  • Each organization typically possesses different rules and regulations to follow or perform a specific task or activity
  • Such instructions are job-oriented and enclosing an individual to deal to set their path
  • Flowy and collective way to deal with solving the complex problems and learning capabilities
  • The best example is the person solving the computer’s issues by troubleshooting, forums searching scenarios, and even taking assistance from co-workers

Often, these two approaches possesses huge variation. Theory-in-use is an ideal choice for the organization to develop an environment valuable to learning perspectives. In addition to it, it becomes relatively easy for individuals to perform an interaction with this culture in an indeterminate way.

Understanding the Three Types of Learning

The three levels of learning that need to be available in the organization include:

  1. Single Loop Learning: It contains one feedback loop when there are some updates or modifications to the business strategy to deal with the unpredicted outcomes.
  2. Double Loop Learning: It is a type of learning that provides significant results in a theory-in-use modification. To create an efficient working culture, specific actions affect the values, strategy, and even substantial assumptions.
  3. Deutero Learning: An impressive process to learn the improvement system of the learning process is Deutero. It includes structural and behavioural parts to have the determination of the learning process to take place. In short, it is “learning how to learn.”

Types of Organizational Learning

Such levels are quickly associated with the innovative concept by Peter Senge to deal with the learning business to improve the learning process and grasping the mental models. To lessen the organization at all levels, responsive learning must be available with three learning types. It ultimately depends on the firm management to select either single-loop learning, double-loop learning, or deutero learning to deal with learning types in the systems.

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Why is Organization Learning Important?

importance of Organizational Learning

Why is Organizational Learning given so much importance? Are practical training and expert development the best option for the organization to deal with appropriate learning?

The answer is NO. If the organization needs to play in a changing environment, organizational learning is the best possible solution.

The history says that the working culture coins quicker in this competitive market.  With new attractive and innovative technology initiation, the people come up with the latest operating skills. In the twenty-first century, people hardly go shopping, driving, learning, or communicating using digital platforms.

If the organization or business needs more customer satisfaction and appealing, they need to adjust as per the customers’ working ways. In addition to it, the technologies are also changing daily, making the people adapt to such norms to perform the business accordingly.

The best example is social media platforms. Traditionally, the business does not require any online presence like a website to enhance its productivity. As time passed, email addresses along with the website, became prime importance for the business. The best example of business transformation innovations is using social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, and Google Accounts. Below highlights the benefits of organizational learning when the organization develops a unique learning culture.

  • Enhancing Employee Satisfaction
  • Minimal Turnover Rates
  • Improving Business Productivity and Efficiency
  • Leaders Developments at all levels
  • Increased changeability within the organization

When the organization plans to develop a working and learning culture, appropriate timing and resource planning are must in this competitive world. Such a quick implementation of the market condition is the best reason for using organizational learning.

The lessons that hold the information related to the failures make the organization opt for the best practices. For the environment where teachers and students are the employees for any organization, there is a robust information exchange to perform contribution more linearly.

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How can Managers Promote Organizational Learning?

How can Managers Promote Organizational Learning

  1. Employees Encouragement to Challenge Personal Assumptions

    One of the most innovative things that senior managers need to perform is performing organizational learning promotions in organizations. The primary intent is to encourage the workers to deal with the presumptions that typically arise in their abilities and identify the factors that can be possible by themself.

    The first and foremost step in understanding the importance of this inspiring step of building organizational learning is to recognize the brain utilization to perform the tasks. By utilizing the brain to make perfect decisions, it reserves limited energy. Still, making use of such power can quickly reduce the brain’s ability to focus on the tasks and activities to perform.

    The energy usage includes the muscles to move, which, in turn, initiate building up metabolites once the employee experiences fatigue. The managers can also make limited energy reserves such that employees’ minds do not focus more on implementing the tasks and activities in the form of short-cuts.

    The organization or the managers can offer interactive training to gain proper insights and knowledge information to the employees as their core habits. Such training sessions can quickly apply such approaches by including the notion of work reflection among themselves.

    It often leads many managers to such situations at one point or another to relate something to perform accurately. It brings insurance to adapt external changes to comfort the competitive edge and make an employee ready to face the challenges of taking care.

    Finally, the managers take the appropriate time to reflect and review the things being done in a specific way. Such measures become valuable resources to make use of the organization’s success.

  2. Providing Working Culture for Employee Safety in Failures

    The organization needs to ensure that employees’ commitment to addressing situations where things do not work as per the proper planning. In simple words, the organization must provide essential learning process training to the employees to make things done to work out as per the requirements.

    The primary importance deals with the necessary things that make the working process of brains to be active. For this to be in action, exceptional attention to such innovative things needs to perform as a part of the protective measures.

    It involves the neurological mechanism that helps the employees generate new skills and insights for specific tasks or activities. The organizations provide employees with the best method to get rid of the failure, and they are ready to offer the perfect answers to their queries.

    The working culture develops within the organization such that employees can quickly move their primary focus of avoiding failure to learn new approaches to enhance their career skills. In the case of scheduling training and workshop, the organization can quickly offer context to employees in order to deal with the multiple failures situations. Often, there are many consequences for the organization that help the employees focus on complicated, painful, and many others.

  3. Learning Promotions as Shared Expertise

    From the last two measures, it’s quite clear that there is a strong dependency on relationships and interactions. With the invention of this measure, the promotion of the learning skills in the organizations brings more encouragement to employees to view the shared learning experience.

    The learning experience is a must for any organization, as its growth, success, productivity, and shared purpose are entirely dependent on the collective experiences of everyone working in the organization. This measure’s primary intent is to clarify that all the employees, including those possessing leadership positions and knowledge-workers, have answers to all the questions.

    The organization must have a working environment that aids the employees to develop a new opportunity to suit for a better version of themselves.

Challenges of Organizational Learning

  1. Creating Impact Through Learning

    The best practice to create organizational knowledge and implement such knowledge is an innovative tool that significantly affects an organization’s impact. The non-profit organization does not need to be a multi-million dollar agency or possessing knowledge management function to have perfect goals, special incentives, and even well-defined knowledge processes to improvise organizational learning.

    The knowledge management systems include essential metrics like sharing best practices across business sites, conversations with the board of directors, and other aspects of the programs. The learning-related activities and tasks related to any topic vary according to different parts of an organization.

    The primary factor of staff training includes the locus of the activity to improve business performance on a large scale. The survey depicts that around 98 percent of the business, after collecting the data or information, could not reflect, which makes them perform integration of various program activities.

    • First, leaders need to demonstrate their commitment to set goals and vision and act as role models to perform learning activities.
    • Second, leaders need to promote a working environment of continuous improvement that values organizational learning behaviours.
    • Third, the organization must be ready with the learning structure applied to specific people to capture, share, and use knowledge or information flow within the organization’s networks.
    • Finally, the organization must have an accurate knowledge process design that defines how people will work.
  2. Gaps in the Learning Cycle

    Recent research suggests that more than 90 percent of the leaders working in an organization take care of learning-based activities and develop an impressive model to capture and share knowledge among the resources. Three main gaps usually resides in the heart of any organization.


    The report says that nearly six in ten non-profit organization leaders do not track learning metrics and work without any goals and mission. It becomes quite complex to handle such knowledge resources deployment, progress measurements and behaviour influencing scenarios across the organization.As per the news, World Vision,, with around 23 CoPs membership, works on the principle to provide children access to education, healthcare, communities of practice (CoP), and experiencing God’s love in their useful lives within the organization’s global intranet. However, the essential factor in changing the lives is frequently sharing the knowledge information from one field of the procedure to another.The organization simply translated the broader strategic goals into a subset of knowledge goals, including best field operations practice. For example, training community health workers for disease prevention and patient care, enhancing yields for farming purposes, and even well-boring in arid regions.

    CoP members’ engagement emerges in various ways and groupings: Some listen and learn using plug-in terminology, while others collaborate on global documents having essential strategies and primary standards dealing with specific areas of research proposals to use search tools to find the best answers. The CoP possesses a strong potential to deal with various knowledge assets for a particular sector, perform analyses and make appropriate use of them for change management.

    The CoPs also perform meetings using WebEx platform, where the team members grab the advantages of discussing several issues in depth using face-to-face conversation.

    The first gap in the learning cycle can quickly resolves the strategic clarity of “why” of organizational learning. The organization just need a specific rewards system to achieve a specific goal of problem-solving attitude. The leaders are unable to receive a success to clarify the incentives for the individuals, teams, or the organization as a whole.It seems that half of the majority do not involve in performing evaluation of learning behaviours just like interviews session. If the organization possess responsive strategy to build organizational responsibilities to directly effect to the job. The simple example is the Councils on Foundations (COF), which is just a non-profit membership whose collective assets is a huge amount, has no specific individual knowledge staff. COF uses customer relationship management (CRM) to track members interactions and pass relevant learning information to colleagues working on different departments to a great extent. The simple example is a teacher working in academic institution like schools and colleges. Such teacher work together to perform a common subject or task.The perfect and innovative chance to make huge impact on organization or field-based operation provides smooth interaction of staff reward to share the information to someone they need.

    For instance, In My Shoes, which is nothing but the effective unit of AzCA possess the goals to tune the voice of a child making foster decisions of child welfare experts. It can eventually result to the system including independence loss, family connections, and even community.

    The company uses storytelling and testimonials to perform message communication for the policy changes to a great extent.

    The final step of closing the gap by making intuitive processes help individuals and teams to grab robust motivation by asking relevant question for many staff members: How? What is the normal process that the organization use to capture, share and utilize the knowledge to make a big impact?The organization’s primary goal is to implement Organizational Learning by identifying, codifying, and making use of best practices and become master in varied curriculum. The process must include essential knowledge assets like online documents, impressive content strategy, in-line classroom materials, virtual systems, and most importantly, the valuable feedback forms.

  3. Getting Better at Organizational Learning

    • During the traditional days of internet, the biggest and perfect library that came into action was World Wide Web to make available on the floor.
    • The organization must follow the knowledge flow that involves the extensive usage of responsive quality of service to the leading clients generally requires hard work. The steps that leader must take in order to set the learning goals invoke the technology advances to be available in the organization’s mission.
    • It may incorporate various tool to share knowledge more efficiently. KIPP, World Vision and Nature Conservancy are the best examples of it. It eventually offers interesting context and take advice in terms of team collaboration to include the service of person-to-person connections and exchanges.

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A collection of organizational rules, regulations, best practices, values, and effective processes is a learning culture. A learning culture organization basically uplifts employees and businesses to develop knowledge and its related capability. In other words, the perfect and responsive learning culture provides impressive organizational learning.
It is a company or business that is being used as a supplement a learning methodologies on themselves. The learning businesses work personally in order to complement and enhance their performance within the organization.
The best examples of learning organizations are:

  • Pizza Hut
  • Microsoft
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • USA Today
  • Apple

Following are the essential traits of organizational learning:

  • Collaborative Learning Environment
  • Lifelong Learning Mindset
  • Impressive Mental Models
  • Forward-Thinking Leadership


Hope you got a detailed overview of Organizational Learning for your employees needs?

Organizational Learning must be available as a primary source in the organization in order to perform knowledge sharing within the organization on a large scale.

The organization needs to follow the key organizational learning theory approach to gain more insights into the knowledge management tools. The senior managers in the organization make use of enhanced techniques to perform the organizational learning promotion globally.

If you have any queries or suggestions related to this content, just share your valuable feedback or contact us for further inquiries.

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