Our Founding Discipline LO20408

Thomas Struck (t.struck@bham.ac.uk)
Mon, 18 Jan 1999 10:29:16 -0000

Replying to LO20387 --

Dear orglearners,
in message 20387 Jens Peder wrote:

>May I suggest Easterby-Smith's seminal paper on the disciplines of
>organizational learning as an alternative. He argues that it is futile to
>try to integrate organizational learning and attempt to build an all
>encompassing model of how organizations learn because the subject draws
>at least six distinct disciplines (Psychology, Management Science and
>Systems, Sociology, Strategy, Production management, Cultural
>Anthropology). Instead we should appreciate the complexity of the subject
>and consider the fact that each discipline will have different

I think you can easily add engineering, ergonomics, finance,..., and
probably many others. Can it be that the problem is exactly this
fragmentation? Fragmentation of science (and the modern university) is by
some traced back to the early 19th century, when broady speaking new
questions led to new disciplines. The way it happened may be evolutionary
but is to some degree arbitrary.

The subject we talk about may be the "science of work" (as opposite to
spare time) and, may be, the learning organisation is a tool to
reintegrate thinking about management, economics, engineering, psychology,
sociology, medicine, law, ..... That of course could be called thinking
about systems. Every discipline itself does surely add important thoughts,
but who will integrate them? Sorry, but accountants (one fragment
currently in charge according to some scholars) are hardly right for the

I think the integration of different disciplines is one major contribution
of the learning organisation. Ideas may still be rather broad and blurred,
some scholars may (rightly) warn about them, but that is what I would
expect from thinking that tries to comprehend the whole.

All the best
Thomas Struck


"Thomas Struck" <t.struck@bham.ac.uk>

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