Developments of the Learning Organization theory

The learning organization was defined as “an organization that is continually expanding its capacity to create the future. For such an organization, it is not enough merely to survive (…) adaptive learning must be joined with generative learning, learning that enhances the capacity to create” (Senge, 1990, 14). Senge proposes “five disciplines” for building a learning organization (Senge, 1990, 6-11): renounce to the old way of thinking (mental models), become committed to lifelong learning (personal mastery), gain the connection to the whole (systems thinking), share a common vision with all the team (shared vision), and work together for the achievement of the vision (team learning). The five elements were not new, but the model in which they were integrated was powerful enough to create a management orientation in North American area.

The initial theory was developed by other contributions. Lichtenstein (2000) proposed the term generative knowledge and insisted that all decision makers must move beyond a rational model of understanding to a transactional, open-minded and social model. Ratner (1997, 1-34) defined the learning organization as “one in which people at all levels are increasing their capacity to produce results they really care about.” Levine (2001) described the learning organization profile as being characterized by remembrance and learning, and using collective recording in work processes and decision-making, since learning is applied to produce or change strategies and procedures. Digenti (1998) explored the notion of learning community as a ground for building the learning organization, through: promoting socially responsible behaviors; visions and values; building cognitive skills inside the community. Thus, the organization could integrate the “whole self” of individuals in the organization. The concept of learning community was a step forward in defining larger social collective profiles; in some books appeared the concept “learning society”(as, for example, Raven and Stevenson, 2001).  In comparison with the learning organization, the learning community is a superior stage, because supposes a strong sense of identity and a high level of cohesion and trust.

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