Learning can take place at individual level, team level or at organisational level. Though we mainly focus and relate learning to an individual, more and more organisations are adopting the concept of organisational learning in order to survive in the competitive world.
Organisational learning can be described as the ability of an organisation to develop an understanding and gain insight from experience through experimentation, observation and analysis and thus make it more efficient and effective in competition to other organisations.
Organisational learning thus studies models and theories about the way an organisation learns and adapts. Effective organisational learning entails modifying the procedure themselves and may be even the assumptions, values, and objectives on which they were based to not only solve current problems, but to prevent their recurrence in the future (Coffey et al, 1997).
It not only contributes to resolving organisational issues, but promotes individual development of knowledge and skills. Organisational learning is also related to organisational change as it can contribute and is conducive to organisational change. An organisation in the process of learning may utilise any one of the three learning styles, viz., (i) single loop learning, (ii) double loop learning and (iii) deuteron learning.
i) Single loop learning mainly deals with the identification and rectification of errors. This is the fundamental level of organisational learning where the effectiveness of rules and policies in the organisation are focused on. One disadvantage of this style is that, the organisations may focus only on the errors and not on developmental aspects. This style can be most effective when solving problems with high level of urgency.
ii) Double loop learning when compared to single loop learning is in-depth. It is normally used in an organisation when there is a need to focus on norms, structures and identify the root causes of an error. The use of this learning style may lead to certain changes that may impact the values, beliefs and strategies in an organisation.
Double loop learning directly deals with the root cause of the problem thus may require a long period of time and cannot be utilised for dealing with immediate problems. Double loop learning is definitely more advantageous to any
organisation compared to single loop learning. However, there is hesitation on part of the organisations to use it because of its complexity, time consuming process and also because it involves disclosure of errors and questioning of values, beliefs and strategies in an organisation.
iii) In deuteron learning, not only there is an in-depth analysis of error and questioning of values, beliefs and strategies as in double loop learning, but it goes one step further and also attempts to evaluate and analyse the whole process of learning. This style thus enhances the learning practice in the organisation.