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Organizational Psychology: Organizational Learning

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The field of psychology is a wide one and thus, there are various sub-fields in it. Organizational psychology has fields that range from leadership, job occupational health, organizational learning, etc. Learning is regarded as the conception and attainment of impending and concrete knowledge. Thus, learning can be either individual, or organizational. Either way, learning is meant to uphold the workers, and the organization up-to-date with any changes within the outside environment. At the same time, learning is imperative in building up enthusiasm, high spirits, flexibility, and cooperation amongst the workers. In psychology, learning is used to refer to the process through which a moderately long-term change in the potential behavior of workers and the organization at large occurs due to experience or practice.

Organizational learning has been mainly used when talking about individual learning in an organization; and the whole organization learning as a joint body. Individual learning, learning within small and large groups, and learning within an entire organization is very necessary for the organization to have the required knowledge that helps in taking effective actions. In addition, organizational learning has been used to refer to an organization’s capacity to obtain the indispensable knowledge required to guarantee survival and competition within its environment.

Organizational Learning

In most cases, organizational learning is focused on registering knowledge that has been gained through individual or organizational experience. Subsequently, organizational learning involves making the acquired knowledge available to all individuals, especially when it is pertinent to the work they do. Individual learning can be attained through studying, experiences, reasoning, observation, rehearsal, and through the development of efficient mental models in an individual’s mind. On the other hand, organizational learning, is as much a social activity than a cognitive activity.

This is because, organizational learning takes place when an organization or groups of individuals learn to interact with one another, share one’s knowledge with others and when these groups act cooperatively in a manner that capitalizes on their joint effort, capacity, and capability of understanding and taking effective action. One aspect of organizational learning is that it involves language-sharing, finding meaning, and meeting group objectives and standards that are considerably very different from those in individual learning.

It is thus true that, when an organization learns, there is generation of a social collaboration that builds up an overall knowledge, adds value to the workers of an organization, and consequently, adds to the organization’s overall performance. The kind of knowledge that is earned through organizational learning is of two kinds. The kind of knowledge can either be tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is individual and difficult to validate. Tacit knowledge is almost invisible and almost inexpressible.

This makes tacit knowledge to be challenging to share with other people. Apart from being a type of organizational knowledge, tacit knowledge also has two dimensions. The technical dimension comprises of individual skills or abilities, which are referred as cognitive and knowhow dimension. These consist of values, opinions, and principles. The explicit kind of knowledge is expressible through numbers and words and it can also be communicated amongst individuals in a formal and systematic manner.

Types of Organizational learning

Individual learning in organizations

Individual learning is apparent and subtle since all organizations are made up of individuals and because even though an organization may be independent of a specific individual, it cannot be independent of all individuals. According to research, individual learning refers to alteration of one’s skills, understandings, cognition, attitudes, and ethics that an individual acquires via self-study, observation, etc. individual learning is important in every organization because, any kind of knowledge always starts with an individual.

Team learning in organizations

A team refers to a small group of individuals, who help in gather a set of harmonizing and suitable skills, while at the same time holding themselves conjointly responsible for accomplishing a distinguishable and clear various goals. Team learning is very important in achieving learning at the organizational level. Thus, team learning acts as a doorway to organizational learning and is a fundamental learning unit. Team learning is imperative for any organizational learning since, unless learning occurs in teams, there cannot be learning in any organization.

Types of learning levels

Single-loop Learning

In this type of organizational learning, the focus of the workers is predominantly on their actions and not on inherent assumptions or obvious behavioral patterns. In single-loop learning, the members of an organization acquire new capabilities and skills through incremental development. In addition, the workers accept the rules and regulations of an organization without questioning and the workers are also determined to seek improvement of performance within the rules and regulations that have already been set by the organization. This concept is very suitable when dealing with routine and repetition that does not involve challenging an individual’s mental models, suppositions, and framework of learning.

Double-loop Learning

This learning is also regarded as learning by accommodation. Unlike in single-loop learning, in double-loop learning, the workers in an organization experience changes within the internal structure, which in turn affects their principles, concepts, and attitudes. Double-loop learning focuses on insights as to why certain approaches or solutions to problems within an organizational actually work. This learning reshapes the thoughts and actions of workers and thus, when error detection occurs, the members challenge their expectations and mental models in order to realize why the current policies and structures of the organization cause errors. In other words, double-loop learning takes place when errors are amended by altering the governing values of an organization.

Triple-loop Learning/ Deutero-learning

This organizational learning model integrates both the single- loop learning and the double-loop learning. However, unlike in single- loop learning which questions about actions are asked and double-loop learning where questions about mental models and suppositions are asked, triple-loop learning focuses on transformation of organizational members and helping them learn how to learn. Triple-loop learning attains this by concentrating on their ability to utilize single- loop learning and double-loop learning effectively.

Importance of Organizational learning

Many organizations learn how to intensify their employees’ adaptability and proficiency at all times and most especially in times of change. Organizational learning is a vibrant process, which establishes itself in the constantly ever-changing nature of most organizations. Organizational learning is the key to innovation, teamwork, inter-cultural understandings, and high employee morale in organizations, especially in times of improbability and outside challenge.

The concept of organizational learning is very important in any organization as it serves to increase the efficiency, competitive advantage, and innovation within organizations . When organizational learning is matched with knowledge management, they both serve to increase the quality of resolutions within the organization. In addition, both organizational learning and knowledge management serve to better the effectiveness of employees and the organization at large.


In the rapidly changing, unpredictable and progressively compound environment of this day, the creation, attainment, and application of knowledge through unremitting and comprehensive learning is evidently the remaining solution to the excellence and survival or organizations. In order for learning, working, and transformation to succeed collectively, all of them have to be linked, both in theory, and in practice. Through human resource, organizational learning may create learning, and enable innovation and adjustments in organizations. The process of organizational learning has thus proven to be an essential element of the strategy and culture of an organization.

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