Which multinational companies are learning organizations LO29793

From: Malcolm Burson (mburson@gwi.net)
Date: 01/08/03

Replying to LO29780 --

In response to my assessment of GE (LO29772), Ellery July asserts,

> Based on this assessment then there are no learning organizations
> multinational or not. Most organization in the US have bad compensation
> systems, have been known to treat some group of people badly, and lack an
> understanding of how their tools, procedures, and system negatively impact
> the world.

I'm not sure that "most" is a sufficient reason to conclude that there are
no learning organizations, but I, for one, would be content with the
conclusion that treating employees badly, and ignoring the consequences of
business which "negatively impact the world" would preclude one from

> While GE and others may not be perfect learning organizations they are
> learning organizations because they are seeking to make themselves better
> via learning. Some are further down the road then others - GE is further
> down then most based on their own outcomes (not mine or yours).

This implies that "making one's self better" by whatever means, so long as
they meet one's own standards for outcomes, obviates any need to consider
the contextual implications (ecological, moral, national, or whatever) of
an organization's actions. This, to me, is a kind of ethical solipsism
that is entirely inconsistent with, as I claimed in my earlier message, my
perception of the underlying ideology of Senge and others.

It seems to me, Ellery, that you certainly have the right to champion what
I would see as an entirely instrumental approach to organizational
learning; I just remain unconvinced that this is compatible with the
foundational proposals that have informed this list for the last decade.

> I never respond to Nazi analogies because the are loaded with political
> implications.

In response, I would challenge you to identify any analogy to
organizational life and development that is not "political." If you
prefer, I think it would be quite easy to provide another analogical
example that makes the same point.

In the spirit of respectful disagreement,

Malcolm C. Burson
Director of Special Projects
Maine Department of Environmental Protection



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