From Organizational Learning to the Learning Organization

A. Edmondson, B. MOINGEON

Management Learning

1998, vol. 29, n°1, pp.5-20

Departments: Strategy & Business Policy, GREGHEC (CNRS)

This article reviews theories of organizational learning and presents a framework with which to organize the literature. We argue that unit of analysis provides one critical distinction in the organizational learning literature and research objective provides another. The resulting two-by-two matrix contains four categories of research, which we have called: (2) residues (organizations as residues of past learning); (2) communities (organizations as collections of individuals who can learn and develop); (3) participation (organizational improvement gained through intelligent activity of individual members), and (4) accountability (organizational improvement gained through developing individuals' mental models). We also propose a distinction between the terms organizational learning and the learning organization. Our subsequent analysis identifies relationships between disparate parts of the literature and shows that these relationships point to individual mental models as a critical source of leverage for creating learning organizations. A brief discussion of the work of two of the most visible researchers in this field, Peter Senge and Chris Argyris, provides additional support for this type of change strategy.