Organizational Learning: Theory & Meaning Explained

Are you looking for the optimum solution for your organization to improvise the knowledge experience? You need to understand the importance of learning in an organization’s planning to perform knowledge sharing or information sharing within the organization. Organizational learning is essential for almost a to z companies to enhance the business performance quickly.

What is Organizational Learning?

Organizational learning is nothing but the bridge between the operating and visionary- Brown and Duguid

The working process to transfer the knowledge within an organization is known as organizational learning.

Organizational Learning is a boon for almost all the organizations irrespective of size and type. The knowledge creation, retention and knowledge transfer within the organization enhance the business strength greatly.

What is Organizational Learning

The organizational learning consists of three essential functions.

  • Knowledge Creation
  • Knowledge Retention
  • Knowledge Transfer

A lot of improvement takes place in organizational learning, as the organization and the team members create a robust knowledge base platform to involve a to z business topics to improve business performance.

Understanding the importance of creating an inspiring and innovative learning environment for an organization needs an appropriate knowledge management 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.

  • Individual Learning
  • Group member Learning
  • Organizational Learning
  • Inter-organizational Learning

Organizational Learning Theory

Chris Argyris and Donald Schon – Supporters of 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.

Such a process moves 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:

  1. Espoused Theory
  2. Theory in Use
  • 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 its 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 possess huge variations. 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
  2. Double Loop Learning
  3. Deutero Learning

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.

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Why is Organization Learning Important?

importance of Organizational Learning

Why is Organizational Learning given so much importance? Do you think practical training programs of KM tools 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.

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. 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 for using knowledge management software.

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 step that organizations need to do is building organizational learning is to recognize the brain utilization to perform the tasks such as decision making and reserve limited energy.

    The organization or the managers can offer interactive training to gain proper insights and knowledge information to the employees as their core habits with KM tools. 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 do a performance review of 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 with appropriate learning processes trains 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 scheduling training programmes and workshops, the organization can promptly offer context to employees to deal with the multiple failure situations.

  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 framework 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 a to z questions.

    The organization must have a learning 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 systems 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 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, making them perform 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 using 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 root causes usually reside in the heart of any 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 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.

    CoP members’ engagement emerges in various ways and groupings: Some listen and learn using plug-in terminology. Others collaborate on global documents with essential strategies and primary standards dealing with specific research proposals to use search tools to find the best answers.

    The CoPs also perform meetings using the WebEx platform, where the staff grab the competitive advantage of discussing several issues in depth using face-to-face conversation.

    The first gap in the learning cycle can quickly resolve the strategic clarity of the “why” of learning organizatitonal. The organization just needs a specific rewards system to achieve a particular goal of problem-solving attitude. The leaders cannot receive success to clarify the incentives for the individuals, teams, or the organization as a whole.

    Suppose the organization possesses a responsive strategy to build organizational responsibilities to affect the job directly. A simple example is a teacher working in an academic institution like schools and colleges. Such teachers work together to perform a familiar subject or task.

    The perfect and innovative chance to significantly impact an organization or field-based operation provides smooth staff reward interaction to share the information with someone they need.

    The final step of closing the gap by making intuitive learning processes help individuals and teams to grab robust motivation by asking the relevant question for many staff members: How? What is the normal process that the organization uses to capture, share, and utilize it to impact significantly?

    The organization’s primary goal is to implement Organizational Learning by identifying, codifying, and using best organizational learning practices and becoming a master in a varied curriculum. The process must include essential knowledge assets like online documents, impressive content strategy, in-line classroom materials, virtual systems, and valuable feedback forms.

  3. Getting Better at Organizational Learning

    • During the traditional days of the internet, the most important and perfect library that came into action was the World Wide Web to make available on the floor.
    • The organization must follow the knowledge flow that involves the extensive usage of responsive service quality to the leading clients generally requires hard work. Leaders must take steps to set the learning goals to invoke the technology advances to be available in the organization’s mission.
    • It may incorporate various KM tools to share knowledge more efficiently. KIPP, World Vision and Nature Conservancy are the best examples of it. It eventually offers a fascinating context and takes 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 learning processes is a learning culture. A learning culture organization uplifts employees and businesses to develop knowledge and its related capability.

It is a company or business that is being used as a supplement for learning methodologies on themselves. 

The best examples of learning organizations are:

  • Pizza Hut
  • Microsoft
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • USA Today
  • Apple
  • Collaborative Learning Environment
  • Lifelong Learning Mindset
  • Impressive Mental Models
  • Forward-Thinking Leadership


In conclusion, any company needs to establish a learning culture through organizational learning. It enables organizations to stay competitive in today’s market by acquiring collective knowledge and developing skills by continuously learning.

The senior managers in the organization can also utilize enhanced techniques to perform corporate learning globally. Organizations can improve their performance and achieve long-term success with the right collaborative approach to Organizational Learning.

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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