Welcome to learning

The idea of a “learning organization” originated in the world of business, and spread from there across education and training, religion, government and non-government sectors, national and international. Although yet to become closely interrelated with the idea of lifelong learning, organizational learning and learning organizations provide potentially some of the most supportive contexts and value systems for lifelong learning. Just as lifelong learning is a condition for the well-being of the individual, organizational learning has become recognized as a condition for the continuing life and vitality of the organization, in whose interest it is to promote the continuing open-ended learning of its members.

A strong implication is that the continuing life of the organization depends on the lifelong learning of its members. A corollary is that to the extent that individuals spend their lives working and living within organizations, the lifelong learning of individuals is dependent on organizations creating and sustaining a culture of learning – one of the feature s of a learning organization. There is thus a profound implicit connection between the concept of lifelong learning and the concept of a learning organization. Moreover, just as individual learning can be either unconscious, consciously self-directed, or formally organized in social institutions – and this has been stressed by advocates of lifelong learning who recognize that it should not be left to chance or the uncritical endorsement of the status quo (Candy 1991, p.l6)-so advocates of organizational learning and the learning organization recognize that these should not be left to chance (Marquardt 1996, p.16). Similarly, advocates of lifelong learning recognize that the development of learning organizations is a trend enabling lifelong learning (Longworth & Davies 1996, pp.34, 73-80). For individual and organization, learning is essential not just for survival but for the quality of life itself.