Introducing the Learning Organization

The 19th century was the age of pioneering, economic man. Economic achievement, endorsed by both Church and State, became the hallmark of the industrializing societies. The 20th century, however, has seen the rise of “differentiated” organizational man. Institutional power, endorsed by both “free” and socialist enterprise, has supplanted personal power. The 21st century is likely to herald the successor to economic and organizational man – the “integrated”, whole person. Thus, the 19th century was the age of the pioneering entrepreneur; in the 20th century the scientifically rational executive has taken command: business administration has taken over from business entrepreneurship, the bureaucratic organization from the pioneering enterprise, the 21st century, as we see, will be the era of the integrated learning organization. In this chapter we shall introduce you to such a developed enterprise, in both theory and practice.

Within such an organization a healthy array of individual managers, institutions, and cultures holds interdependent sway. In the vertical dimension, each engages in an on-going evolutionary process of learning and development (upward), and a continuing transformative process of innovation and creativity (downward). In the horizontal dimension, each participates in an interactive process of learning with and through others.

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