Argyris C.. 1992. On Organizational Learning.


Describes organisational defences to learning and means to overcome them, including a compendium of 27 book chapters and journal articles

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This book builds on ideas of Argyris and Schön (Theory in practice) to explore, in more detail, organisational defences to learning, the counter-productive consequences of organisational development, and issues associated with information use. The core argument is that organisation defences that prevent workers from experiencing negative feelings also prevent learning about the causes of them, and that increased reflection on practice is required to overcome these defences. Defences are exemplified where inconsistent messages are provided by managers, who act as if messages are not inconsistent, and make the inconsistency and the actions that suggest there is no inconsistency beyond discussion. The target of Argyris’s views of organisational defences is senior managers.


This book is most useful for those at senior levels in large, multi-tiered organisations, focussing on the individual and their influence on learning across the organisation. Argyris’s focus on organisational defences to learning, and how to identify them provides useful insight into the culture of learning that needs to be cultivated within an agency. He also identifies process as a focus for learning, as opposed to describing the learning process that supports more concrete outcomes. Keywords: organizational