Learning Organization


Maintaining competitiveness in the business world

Principal Metaphors

  • Knowledge is … scope of possible activity
  • Knowing is … adequate functioning
  • Learner is … a member (individual) and/or a dynamic team/organization (collective)
  • Learning is … adapting; expanding scope of competencies/possibilities
  • Teaching is … supporting; challenging




Learning Organization is a team or company that attends to the co-entangled phenomena of the learning of its members and its continuous transformation. Learnings at both the individual and collective level are understood to be motivated by pressures to be current and competitive in the business ecosystem. Prominent subdiscourses include:
  • Team Learning (Peter Senge, 1990s) – a structured process by which team members suspend their personal assumptions as they think together as a team


As might be guessed from their names, Learning Organization and Organizational Learning have much in common, especially around matters of maintaining competitiveness in a business environment and bringing together multiple level-specific sub-theories. They part company in Learning Organization’s embrace of Eco-Complexity Discourses, which enables Learning Organization to present a greater coherence across its sub-theories. That said, there tends to be some sloppiness around invoking notions associated with Folk Theories (especially the Acquisition Metaphor) when discussing learning.

Authors and/or Prominent Influences

Peter Senge

Status as a Theory of Learning

Learning Organization satisfies most of the criteria of a theory of learning. In particular, the focus of the theory is explicit and its metaphors of co-entangled learning are well developed and consistently used.

Status as a Theory of Teaching

Learning Organization is not a theory of teaching, but it is typically deployed as a framework to interpret and affect the functioning of a company. In a sense, then, like Organizational Learning, Learning Organization is theory of teaching a company by addressing learning possibilities simultaneously across levels of the organization.

Status as a Scientific Theory

Evidence has been generated to show that embrace the principles of Learning Organization can support innovation, efficiency, and competitiveness.


  • Team Learning

Map Location

Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2021). “Learning Organization” in Discourses on Learning in Education. https://learningdiscourses.com.

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