Action Learning and Learning OrganizationLO29274

From: Acosta, Anne (A.ACOSTA@CGIAR.ORG)
Date: 10/08/02

Replying to LO29268 --

Dear Dianne,

>From one Ph.D. student to another (tho I'm still far from being
almost-completed), I highly recommend anything by Bill Torbert and
particularly the book he has co-authored, PERSONAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL
TRANSFORMATIONS (you can see several reviews of the book at

I like many things about the way Torbert thinks, beginning with the fact
that he is 100% a scholar-practitioner -- his fascination with connecting
action learning with leadership development and organizational learning
was triggered by his own struggles with trying to weave these together in
his early career, and he has continued to experiment with this ever since
(for more than 20 years) in academic (e.g., the design of MBA programs)
and organizational settings. He digs into the challenges of personal and
organizational transformation in a much more rigorous and profound way
than, for example, Senge, who also tries to link these two dimensions.
He also looks at learning in a holistic way -- not just as a
cognitive/instrumental process, but one which involves affective and power
aspects. He posits parallel developmental processes for individuals and
organizations (drawing on the work of Robert Kegan and others), whereby
each successive stage enables more sophisticated approaches to handling
paradox and complexity. And he argues (convincingly, I think) that action
learning (to get back to your original question) is the central process
through which individuals and organizations come face to face with the
limitations of operating at their current stage, and can work through the
challenges to move towards higher level of thinking, working and relating.
It's a very thick analysis, and the way he weaves it all together strikes
me as a vivid example of high-level systems thinking.

Get the book, read it, and let's continue the conversation about this!
(Talking with you about it will no doubt help me understand it better as

Warm regards,

Anne Starks Acosta
Ph.D. student, Fielding Graduate Institute
(Home base: Teotihuacan, Mexico)


"Acosta, Anne" <A.ACOSTA@CGIAR.ORG>

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