Acquiring organizational learning norms: a contingency approach for understanding deutero learning

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'The Learning Organization' is a configuration of learning norms (called a learning prototype here), which is seldom related to varying levels of learning needs. This article assumes that organizational environmental complexity and dynamics define four learning needs levels. Consequently, four learning prototypes exist that best treat the learning needs. The extent of match between learning needs (which are increasing in modern organizations) and required learning norms define an organization's learning capabilities. Deutero learning is the acquisition of these learning capabilities. Four case studies describe the accumulations and unlearning processes with regard to the related learning norms. These adjustments of the related policy, responsibility, action and procedural learning norms are enabled and constrained by organizational environmental factors. This article also suggests that Nonaka and Takeuchi's `knowledge creation company' prototype may be effective at all learning needs levels, but inefficient in less than high learning needs situations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-200
Number of pages20
JournalManagement learning
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Deutero learning
  • Organizational learning capacity
  • Knowledge creation
  • Organizational learning prototypes


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