Learning Inquiry

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 25–46 | Cite as

How can organisations learn: an information systems development perspective

  • Gavin J. BaxterEmail author
  • Thomas M. Connolly
  • Mark Stansfield


This article sets out to argue that organisations can learn but that they cannot do so in their own right without infrastructural support. This article further examines the notion that individuals in organisations also require the cognitive participation of the organisation itself as a learning entity to learn. The close reliance and affiliation required between individuals and organisations to enable their learning from one another are discussed. In continuation of this, specific examples are provided through the industry sector of information systems development (ISD) projects to illustrate of how organisations can learn. Finally, the question of how one identifies organisational learning is analysed. Following on from the ISD and its use in the analogy of organisational learning, the article discusses an organisational empirical research project currently being undertaken by the authors, which utilises blogs. Though there are many potential organisational learning connotations associated with blogs, they could be perceived as a type of information system. The ongoing research being undertaken with the company using the blogs will attempt to identify indicators of learning at the individual, group and organisational levels. The significance of the issues explored in this article lies in the fact that it addresses an ISD approach to study how an organisation learns, and why this perspective is useful towards understanding the process of organisational learning. This article contributes to the organisational learning debate through an illustrative industry example of ISD projects. In doing so, we wish to argue that though individual learning can occur in ISD projects, the collective nature of projects primarily engenders the interpretive aspect of organisational learning. We further believe that it is the interactive nature of an ISD project that allows an organisation to learn in tandem with project members as exemplified through the stages of a project life cycle. We feel that this article contributes to the ISD and organisational learning literature in terms of linking both concepts together.


Organisational learning Interpretive paradigm Mutual learning Individual learning Collective learning ISD Organisational memory 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gavin J. Baxter
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thomas M. Connolly
    • 1
  • Mark Stansfield
    • 1
  1. 1.School of ComputingUniversity of the West of ScotlandPaisleyScotland, UK

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