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

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Emotion in Organizational Learning

Looking across the four-quadrant framework, it seems that emotional and motivational factors are either subsumed under broader headings such as ‘learning culture’ (e.g. Pedler, Burgoyne, and Boydell, 1996; Garvin et. al., 2008) or condensed to attributes like ‘trust’ (Kang et. al., 2007; Nahapiet and Ghoshal, 1998). Similarly, although a wide literature has annotated the various factors that may facilitate both formal and informal learning—such as reward systems (Arthur and Aimant-Smith, 2001), personal commitment to self-actualization (Senge, 2006), and openness to new and different experiences (Pedler et. al., 1996) (touched on in quadrant one)—it is not clear how these mechanisms influence learning at a higher level than the individual. This lack of attention to emotion has, according to some scholars (e.g. Fineman, 2003), led to under-theorization in this area.

Close scrutiny indicates that there are suggestive links. Bandura (1982, 1997), discussed in quadrant two, has highlighted the role of self-efficacy in learning, suggesting that the momentum (and, by implication, the positive feelings) gained through achieving mastery may raise expectations and fuel an individual’s willingness to take on new challenges. Defensive thought patterns (cf. Argyris and Schön, 1978), by contrast, are laden with fear and threat, and likely to undermine double loop learning. According to Kelly (1955), however, whose work follows on from Mead (1938), seeing emotions ...

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