Organizational Learning: A Radical Perspective

14 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2002


This paper reviews the organizational learning literature. For many years, organizational learning theory has been based on a functionalistic paradigm, but an interpretive paradigm now seems to be attaining dominance. However, neither of these perspectives of organizational learning is truly radical in the sense of challenging conditions of power and control in organizations. There are some critical texts on organizational learning (and the learning organization), but they go no further than criticism. Therefore, this paper tries to illustrate what we can call a radical perspective of organizational learning, based on themes in the critical works. The radical perspective of organizational learning implies an organization where the individuals learn as free actors. However, there are norms or rules to guarantee freedom. The learning space in the organization guarantees the occurrence of different opinions, and allows everyone to reflect upon their actions and learning. Working time and employee commitment are restricted so that work does not interfere too much with other undertakings. All employees are guaranteed permanent appointments. Finally, in the radical perspective of organizational learning, organizations die to make place for others when their missions are accomplished. After presenting the radical perspective of organizational learning, I outline some questions for future research and indicate the necessity of further development of such a perspective.

Suggested Citation

Ortenblad, Anders, Organizational Learning: A Radical Perspective. International Journal of Management Reviews, Vol. 4, pp. 71-85, 2002. Available at SSRN:

Anders Ortenblad (Contact Author)

Halmstad University ( email )

Box 823
301 18 Halmstad
035-167522 (Phone)
035-133879 (Fax)

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