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

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Organizational Learning Based Upon Individual Learning Theory

Literature on organizational learning was first coined as theories of organizational behavior within the field of management science (Cyert and March, 1963; March and Simon, 1958). These early contributions to the emerging field of organizational learning dealt with information processing and decision making in organizations. The purpose was to help organizations learn to adapt to changes in the environment and to provide prescriptive managerial techniques. About thirty years later, with the publication of Senge’s book, the counterpart of organizational learning, the Learning Organization, appeared as yet another way to create organizational learning (Senge, 1990). Judging from the many books and guidelines that have been published on how to develop a Learning Organization and pave the way for organizational learning, the Learning Organization and organizational learning have proved to be powerful models for organizational development (Argyris and Schön, 1996; Pedler and Aspinwall, 1998; Senge et al., 1999).

The learning theory in much of the literature on organizational learning and the Learning Organization is inspired by an individual-oriented psychological field. Enhancing information processing and decision making in organizations are seen as something that is done by individuals, and processes that can be enhanced by individuals’ learning. Individuals’ learning outcome can then, by way of individuals’ acting on ...

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