Different Views of Organizational Behavior Learning

Much of the literature of this learning, seems to be following in the tradition of learning theories and taking a psychological or individual perspective on the phenomenon. There is a debate about whether or not organizations can learn and many just take the approach that organizational learning is the sum total of the individual learning occurring in the workplace. What would happen if our focus shifted to one that is more anthropological and, therefore, focused on group learning? What if there was a shift from seeing learning as just cognitive to seeing it as occurring when groups try to make sense out of their world? As a result of this new view of organizational learning what would be some of the necessary shifts in attitudes, beliefs and practices? Why would companies want to become learning organizations?

It seems difficult to shift our view of learning to something groups do and that it is a natural part of our day-to-day activity. Many educators and theorists do not seem able to hear own contradictions. James E. Russell, dean emeritus, teachers college, Columbia university states:

It cannot be pointed out too often that all education is self-education. Teachers may help define procedure, collect equipment, indicate the most propitious routes, but the climber must use his own head and legs if he would reach the mountaintop........ The best method of teaching adults yet hit upon is undoubtedly group discussion.

The group approach to learning is very compatible with humanistic learning but even Carl Rogers in his book "freedom to learn" does not directly address group learning and group tasks. There is a reference to a "jigsaw approach" that assigns each student a piece that becomes part of a total project. This seems to fall short of what might be possible of we explore group learning as something different from the accumulation of individual learning what will happen of workers move from cooperation, helping someone when asked, to collaboration, doing real work together.


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