Culture as Organizational Learning

I have always struggled to understand the concept of organizational learning. After all, how can an insentient thing be said to learn? This is particularly ironic, as I often refer to myself as working in the area of adult and organizational learning.

Quite a timely piece, but I just read and have been discussing an article by Scott D. N. Cook and Dvora Yanow (1993), Culture and Organizational Learning.  In it, they focus on the learning that occurs within organizations as a facet of organizational cultural:

We hold that learning can indeed be done by organizations, that this phenomenon is neither conceptually nor empirically the same as either learning by individuals or individual learning within organizations; and that to understand organizational learning as learning by organizations, theorists and practitioners need to see organizations not primarily as cognitive entities but as cultural ones (pg. 374).

They go on to define organizational learning as:

the acquiring, sustaining, or changing of intersubjective meanings through the artifactual [sic] vehicles of their expression and transmission and the collective actions of the group (pg. 384).

Never thought about it in this perspective.


Aidan Henry recently wrote about how he wanted to learn more about his readers, and I have been thinking about how interesting this idea is. Now, I am not going to pretend I have a lot of readers, and while I do not really track my blogging stats, I do want to use this to partially share something about me right now, especially as I just celebrated my first anniversary of this blog.

Back then, I wrote:

I think silence and voice are elusive concepts that are so intertwined they cannot be seen independently. Silence means others can have a voice, and to have one’s voice means another is silenced.

Is it this simple? Who decides?

So, where am I today?

Well, I am still an instructional designer (though a senior one at this point) and an adjunct instructor (yes, a professor) at NYU Stern. I consult on organizational learning and communication issues more these days. I still conduct research in the fields of human resource development and adult education. I like philosophy, though appreciate it most when it is in an applied context, namely in the areas of political and social postmodern thinking (especially with issues of power and positionality and self-identity). I also really like love technology, primarily in its application to the above-mentioned things I do.

I expect this to further develop over the next year, as even dictionary definitions change over time as new experiences occur. I have certainly had no end of new experiences recently, and expect the same for the foreseeable future. I like to remain active and alive!