Flexible Learning Systems and Obsolete Organization Structures: Steps Towards Bridging the Gap

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This study explores the mismatch between existing learning systems and the members’ needs for learning in a large international organization. It responds to recent research which argues that members’ learning modes need to be understood and catered for in modern age organizations. Rather than arguing from “what should be”, however, it explores “what is”, by analysing the mismatch developing in a classical organization. Based on the findings, an instrumental model is elaborated, which combines structural and cognitive factors. A main argument is that learning systems and organization structure inhibit one another mutually, which prevents lasting change from taking place. The key to resolving mutual inhibition is to engage in a process of inquiry which focuses on the overall structure and also the learning systems. Three characteristics of such a process of inquiry are proposed as requirements for the resolution of mutual inhibition: social context, setting and proximity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Management
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)89-110
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Learning systems
  • Organizational change
  • Management
  • Organizational learning

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