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Organizational Learning

Organizational Learning
Improving Learning, Teaching, and Leading in School Systems

October 2006 | 264 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Leadership Solutions

Reshapes the way teachers and administrators think about people, practices, and policies…

This innovative book about organizational learning in K–12 settings reshapes the way teachers and administrators think about people, practices, and policies while providing a compelling roadmap for transformation from within today's school systems.

Key Features:

  • Six interrelated conditions support organizational learning: prioritizing learning, fostering inquiry, facilitating the dissemination of knowledge, practicing democratic principles, attending to human relationships, and providing for members' self-fulfillment.
  • An on-going case study connects everyday practices in school systems to a holistic framework that helps practitioners understand how their thinking and behaviors influence learning, work environments, collegial interactions, decision making, and innovation.
  • Numerous practical examples bring complex theoretical concepts to life, while a series of essential questions, activities for getting started, and reflective journal prompts allow practitioners to apply content and ideas to their own settings

Meet the author!


List of Tables, Figures and Illustrations
Part I: What Is Organizational Learning?
Chapter 1: New Ways of Thinking: New Ways of Learning
Moving from an Industrial to a Knowledge Society

Theory and Practice

A Working Definition of Organizational Learning

Case Study

Looking Ahead

Reflective Journal

Chapter 2: Organizational Learning: Original Sources and Perspectives
Why Start With Theory?

How Will Understanding Theory Help an Organization Learn?

Origins of Perspectives on Organizational Learning

Example of Single-Loop Learning

Example of Double-Loop Learning

Example of a Discovering Organization

Comparison of Organizational Adaptation and Organizational Learning

Example of Superstitious Learning

An Application of Organizational Learning Concepts

Example of Organizational Learning by Math Teachers

Reflective Journal

Chapter 3: Core Assumptions of Organizational Learning Perspectives
Core Assumptions

Example of Multilevel Learning

Example of Building Shared Understandings

Example of Embedding Knowledge

A Framework for Understanding and Practicing Organizational Learning

An Example of the Unbelievable


Example of How Language Frames Issues

Reflective Journal

Part II: Why Is Organizational Learning Important For Schools and School Systems?
Chapter 4: Ensuring a Cycle of Continuous Learning
From Individual to Organizational Learning

From Insights to Institutionalized Learning

The Apple Story: Illustrating Four Learning Processes

Example of Learning Processes in a Middle School

Feed Forward and Feedback

Example of Learning Processes: Change in Routines

A Cyclical Process of Learning

Example of Error Detection as a Source of Learning

Reflective Journal

Chapter 5: Organizational Learning as Renewal
Renewal for Sustainability

Deutero Learning

Example of an Organizational Defensive Routine

Defensive Routines in School Contexts

Defensive Routines in Context

From Theory to Practice

Reflective Journal

Part III: How Do Schools and School Systems Foster Organizational Learning?
Chapter 6: Prioritizing Learning for All Members: The Primary Condition
Why is Prioritizing Learning Important?

Learning Case Study

Learning: A Way of Thinking

Changing Thinking, Changing Vocabulary

Learning: The Primary Condition

Example of Openness to Error Detection

Essential Questions

Getting Started Activities/Ideas

Further Reading

Reflective Journal

Chapter 7: Fostering Inquiry and Its Collateral Learning
Why is Inquiry Important for Organizational Learning?

Inquiry: A Specific Kind of Learning

Inquiry Case Study

Inquiry: A Way of Thinking

Inquiry and Attitudes

Inquiry and Attitudes: A Reciprocal Process

Direct Inquiry

Example of Collective Inquiry and Openness to New Ideas

Example of Inquiry as Continuous Improvement

Indirect Inquiry

Essential Questions

Getting Started Activities and Ideas

Further Reading

Reflective Journal

Chapter 8: Facilitating the Dissemination of Learning
Why is Dissemination Important for Organizational Learning?

Dissemination Case Study

Dissemination: A Way of Thinking

Dissemination: Sharing Learning

Examples of Dissemination as Dialogue

Example of a Mismatch Affecting Dissemination

Essential Questions

Getting Started Activities and Ideas

Further Reading

Reflective Journal

Chapter 9: Practicing Democratic Principles
Why are Democratic Principles Important for Organizational Learning?

Democratic Principles Case Study

Democratic Principles: A Way of Thinking

Democratic Principles: A Way of Living

Open Systems and Democratic Principles

A Contradiction: Democratic Life and the Bureaucratic Model

Example of a Minority as a Catalyst for Good

Roles and Responsibilities in Democratic Organizations

Example of Dependency and Low Responsibility

Summary: Leader as Model

Example of Linkages Between Learning and Professional Control

Democratic Principles and Organizational Learning

Long-Term Threats to Democratic Principles in Organizations

Summary of Threats to Democratic Principles

Essential Questions

Getting Started Activities and Ideas

Further Reading

Reflective Journal

Chapter 10: Attending to Human Relationships
Why are Human Relationships Important?

Human Relationships Case Study

Human Relationships: A Way of Thinking

Human Relationships: A Social Infrastructure

Schools With Strong Relational Trust

Potential Outcomes of Independence and Interdependence

Example of Conflict as Learning

Essential Questions

Getting Started Activities and Ideas

Further Reading

Reflective Journal

Chapter 11: Providing for Members? Self-Fulfillment
Why is Providing for Members? Self-Fulfillment Important?

Members' Self-Fulfillment Case Study

Providing for Members? Self-Fulfillment: A Way of Thinking

Historical Communities of Learners

Nurturing Members? Quest for Meaningful Values and Goals

Values and Practices of High-Performing Teachers/Leaders

Ways to Solicit Knowledge From All Members

Example of Goverment Influence on Innovation

Nurturing Members? Commitment and Connections

Providing Opportunities to Communicate and Connect

Nurturing Members? Aspirations for Growth

Hiring to Enhance Renewal

Essential Questions

Getting Started Activities and Ideas

Further Reading

Reflective Journal

Part IV: Looking Back, Looking Ahead
Chapter 12: Organizational Learning: A Balancing Act
Creating a Culture That Rewards Learning

The Role of Feedback and Feed Forward for Learning

Example of Influences Affecting Accuracy of Interpretations

Ways to Encourage Argument and Feedback

Organizational Memory: A Double-Edged Sword

Organizational Learning: Improving Learning, Teaching, and Leading

Organization Development: Building Schools'

Capacity to Develop and Extend Organizational Learning

Chapter 13: How Research Can Help Schools and Systems Move Forward
Examining Assumptions

Questions for Researchers and Practitioners

Wanting to Learn

Attending to All Members? Growth

Pinehurst Revisited: Practitioners Modeling Research for and With Students

About the Authors

The content of the book is timely and relevant. It covers the theories and concepts that I believe are necessary for my students to adopt in order to become effective administrators of buildings.

Dr Deborah Copeland
Educational Admin Dept, Ashland Univ-Columbus Center
June 30, 2023
Key features
  • in-depth explanation of six conditions necessary to support organizational learning
  • strong theory-to-practice connections
  • essential questions, getting started activities, and reflective journal questions to help readers connect concepts to their own school or school system
  • numerous practical illustrations and examples, including an on-going case study

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 5

Chapter 7

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