Eric Abrahamson

“Fads, Fashions and the Fluidity of Knowledge: The Story of Peter Senge's 'The Learning Organization'”

Coauthor(s): Mikelle Calhoun, William Starbuck.

Editors: Mark Easterby-Smith and Marjorie Lyles

Abstract:
This chapter uses the story of Peter Senge's "The Learning Organization" (TLO) and talks about "learning organizations" to illustrate how management fads and fashions affect the spread of knowledge. Some commentators labeled Senge's successful TLO work a "fad." Implicit in such labeling is derision and suggestion that association with TLO lacks benefit. New management techniques often provoke skepticism and when miracles do not occur, receive the same derogatory "fad" label. Is the negativism associated with management fads and fashions warranted? Analysis of the Senge TLO phenomena portrays fads and fashions as social processes, intrinsic to social change. They erupt from latency periods and may have brief or long lives. In retrospect, their consequences may be beneficial or harmful and may be short-term or long-term. Even brief fads may produce lasting benefits. TLO's story shows the complexity of social change and reveals the fluidity of knowledge, as ever-evolving fads and fashions weave older ideas into new beliefs and ways of problem solving.

Source: The Blackwell Handbook of Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management
Exact Citation:
Abrahamson, Eric, Mikelle Calhoun, and William Starbuck. "Fads, Fashions and the Fluidity of Knowledge: The Story of Peter Senge's 'The Learning Organization.'" In The Blackwell Handbook of Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management, 225-248. Ed. Mark Easterby-Smith and Marjorie Lyles. Chichester: Wiley, 2011.
Pages: 225-248
Place: Chichester
Date: 2011