Communities of Practice LO27036

From: Barry Mallis (
Date: 07/23/01

Replying to LO27015 --


I liked your simple expression concerning organizations and communities of
practice. It makes me wonder further about whether organizations have some
intangible "power" to learn. Help me here.

Are there not hypotheses, backed by phenomenological evidence, that groups
of organisms possess discernable attributes usually not seen in
individuals members of the group? At an extreme, we describe "mass
hysteria" and palpable physical effects it has on humans. Can amoebas act
in a group the way they would not alone, much like schooling fish, herding
mammals, Gloria Estefan concert-goers, looters?

I wonder how much of a stretch it is to think that these "organizations"
actually learn/acquire behaviors (especially higher up the food chain).

Now, if there's something to all this, if some kind of "weak force" in
organizations makes the Organization itself learn in a way that is
different from the learning of individual members OUTSIDE the dynamics
(whatever THAT is) of the organization, then maybe organizations DO learn,

> Organizations don't learn, people do. Much of the learning that people do
> in formal organizations is done in informal, primarily social
> organizations known as "communities of practice" (CoPs).

Thanks for your thoughts.

Best regards,

Barry Mallis
The Organizational Trainer
110 Arch St, #27
Keene, NH 03431 USA
voice: 603 352-5289
FAX: 603 357-5257


Barry Mallis <>

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