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How Organizations Learn: An Integrated Strategy for Building Learning Capability / Edition 1

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Now more than ever, businesses and organizations must learn from their experiences and adapt to change in order to survive, grow, and thrive. But what exactly does it mean to be a 'learning organization'? Does your company's learning portfolio match its strategy? And how can your company's approach to learning ensure its ongoing success? This essential volume, the first integrated, comprehensive view of the subject, answers these and other critical questions and provides readers with clear concepts and practical techniques for increasing the learning capability of their companies.
Here, authors Anthony J. DiBella and Edwin C. Nevis integrate the best of established organizational learning theory with their own cogent insights. Their original research in seven U.S. and European businesses has given them a compelling vision of how and why organizations learn. Working with executive managers, human resource and organization development consultants and trainers, and operations staff in more than twenty-five Fortune 500 companies, DiBella and Nevis have developed, tested, and refined the set of concepts, methods, and tools they present.
DiBella and Nevis maintain that all organizations have learning capabilities and styles, which vary with individual corporate cultures, and show why distinctive styles should be regarded as sources of competitive advantage. They find that learning capabilities are developed as companies put certain prescriptive conditions, called Facilitating Factors, into place, and as changes in attitudes, behaviors, and structures occur. Businesses should not overlook existing capabilities, however; but should evaluate them in terms of an integrated framework-such as the the Learning Profile-one of the many valuable tools this book includes.
From theory and research to practical applications, How Organizations Learn presents a productive framework for any organization that wants to learn more fully and adapt more quickly to the fast-changing marketplace. DiBella and Nevis advocate a strategic commitment to learning, suggesting that through such an approach, we can make not only our organizations but also our society more effective and rewarding.

In this essential volume, authors DiBella and Nevis offer sound advice on how to increase the learning capabilties of your company. Readers will discover a powerful array of tools and techniques for leveraging an organization's unique learning style, as well as a productive framework that will help your company learn more fully and adapt more quickly in today's volatile marketplace. It's the most comprehensive work to date concerning this all-important competitive advantage.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This work is a rare find in business literature: simultaneously highly readable, practical, and academic. For the involved manager who wants to help increase the long-term viability of his/her organization, this book will prove to be highly important and valuable." (Herbert Rau, strategic marketing manager, Fairchild Semiconductor)

"The authors accomplish an amazing feat in providing an insightful synthesis of numerous theories of the learning organization, ranging from Argyris to Senge and then moving rapidly beyond them through case studies to identify a set of how-to tools for leaders and change managers. For those interested in transformation, a most valued addition." (James J. Gannon, senior vice president, Human Resource Development, Royal Bank of Canada)

"How Organizations Learn gets to the practicalities and realities of organizational learning. This is not a fad, it's the outline of effectiveness for organizations of the future." (Patrick Canavan, corporate vice president and director of global leadership and organization development, Motorola)

"This book should appeal to anyone looking for a single resource about the practice of assessing the learning capabilities of organizations. The authors provide an elegant and comprehensive approach that is based on theory yet grounded in actual learning organizations." (Mark Van Buren, senior research officer, American Society for Training & Development)

"DiBella and Nevis provide a highly insightful framework for analyzing and transforming a company's learning style. Provocative and pragmatic!" (John Seely Brown, chief research scientist, Xerox Palo Alto Research Center)

"To understand and drive changes is difficult for everyone, both individuals and organizations. DiBella and Nevis supply CEOs and managers with a set of very useful tools to analyze and increase the learning capability of their organizations and to balance day-to-day decisions with the implementation of long-term strategies." (Mauro Mastrogiacomo, manager of human resources and organizational development, Fiat Auto)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787911072
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 10/10/1997
  • Series: The Jossey-Bass Business and Management Series
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,315,809
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.63 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

ANTHONY DIBELLA and EDWIN C. NEVIS are among the nation's leading organization development consultants. DiBella is a former visiting scholar at MIT, where he received his Ph.D. Nevis, a former professor at MIT's Sloan School and one of the founders of Cleveland's Gestalt Institute, is also coauthor of Intentional Revolutions (1996) and author of Organizational Consulting: A Gestalt Approach (1987).

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Table of Contents


Developing Learning in Organizations: A Matter of Perspective.

Foundations of an Integrated Strategy.


Recognizing Your Organization's Learning Portfolio.

Developing a Learning Strategy.

Improving Organizational Learning Capability.

Enhancing Effectiveness at Each Phase of the Learning Cycle.

Assessing Learning Capability Over Time.


Using an Integrated Strategy in Different Contexts.

Conclusion: What is the Good of All This Learning? Assessing the Impact of Learning on Performance.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2000

    Helpful tool!

    There are many books on the change process, but many if not most ignore the learning that must occur by those who are changed. This book provides a tool for you to analyze the learning capacity of your organization, as well as to help you identify the learning leverage points that need to be tweaked for the organization to achieve its goals.

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