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Handbook of Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management, Second Edition by MARJORIE A. LYLES, MARK EASTERBY-SMITH

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The Field and Scope of the Handbook

For reasons of space, the title of the handbook refers to organizational learning and knowledge management; but two other important topics, ‘the learning organization’ and ‘organizational knowledge’, are also covered here. At first glance they may all seem very similar; but there are a number of important distinctions which we will explain below. The distinction between the first two terms was clearly articulated by Tsang (1997) to the extent that organizational learning refers to the study of the learning processes of and within organizations, largely from an academic point of view. The aims of such studies are therefore primarily to understand and critique what is taking place. On the other hand the learning organization is seen as an entity, an ideal type of organization, which has the capacity to learn effectively and therefore to prosper. Those who write about learning organizations generally aim to understand how to create and improve this learning capacity, and therefore they have a more practical impact and a performance agenda. We have gathered together papers in Part II of this volume, which reflect different aspects of the domain covered by these two terms.

A similar distinction can be made between the terms organizational knowledge and knowledge management. Those who write about the former often adopt a philosophical slant in trying to understand and conceptualize the nature of knowledge that is contained within organizations. Hence ...

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