Regenerating the learning organisation: towards an alternative paradigm

Mike Pedler, Shih wei Hsu

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper aims to take a critical view of the concepts of the Learning Organisation and Organisational Learning (LO/OL) and respond to two questions about their current state: are existing perspectives on LO/OL still fit for purpose? What are the possibilities for an alternative paradigm of LO/OL? Design/methodology/approach: The paper critically reviews the literature of LO/OL and uses the concept of problematisation together with some guiding principles from ancient wisdoms to articulate an alternative paradigm. Findings: Two waves of LO/OL are identified. A first wave rests on a series of assumptions that have shaped a predominant understanding of LO/OL, including the suppositions that all learning is good; that those organisations adopting LO/OL strategies are engaged in useful work and in pursuing socially valuable ends; and that neo-liberal beliefs favouring market-based solutions are the most appropriate response to organisational problems. A more reflexive approach to LO/OL has challenged these predominant views, and although it has had little impact on practice, it paves the way for a possible second wave perspective. With the help of a theoretical excursion of Taoism and Buddhism, the authors portray a possible picture of a new paradigm for LO/OL. Originality/value: Whilst existing critical accounts have problematised the mainstream assumptions of LO/OL, they have not clearly indicated any different perspectives. Drawing upon ancient wisdom, the paper identifies some guiding principles for an alternative LO/OL paradigm and discourse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-112
Number of pages16
JournalLearning Organization
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2019


  • China
  • Eastern philosophy
  • Learning
  • Learning organisations
  • Organizational theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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