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Do Organisations Learn? Some implications for HRD of Bateson’s levels of learning

Tosey, P and Mathison, J (2008) Do Organisations Learn? Some implications for HRD of Bateson’s levels of learning Human Resource Development Review, 7 (1). 13 - 31. ISSN 1534-4843

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Abstract

This article explores and appraises Gregory Bateson’s theory of `levels of learning’ (Bateson, 2000a) and its implications for Human Resource Development, especially with reference to issues of organisational learning. In Part One, after briefly reviewing Bateson’s biography we describe the origins and contents of the theory. In Part Two, three particular features of the theory are explored, together with their practical and theoretical implications for HRD: 1. The significance of the recursive relationship between the levels; 2. Bateson’s theory is not a stage theory of learning; `higher’ levels of learning are neither superior to, nor necessarily more desirable than, lower levels; 3. Bateson’s emphasis on the notion of context, which implies that the task of management involves sensitivity to such contexts. In Part Three the discussion emphasises the holistic nature of Bateson’s theory, in that the levels of learning combine cognitive, embodied and aesthetic dimensions. We review some limitations of the theory, then conclude by considering its perspective on the question, `do organisations learn?’.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright 2008 Sage Publications.
Divisions: Faculty of Business, Economics and Law > Surrey Business School
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2012 16:14
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2013 19:03
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/145889

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