Organisational Learning and Knowledge Management: A Prospective Analysis Based on the Levels of Consciousness

  • Ricardo Chiva
  • Rafael Lapiedra
  • Joaquín Alegre
  • Sandra Miralles


In this chapter, we analyse the concepts of organizational learning and knowledge management by relating them to the levels of human and organizational consciousness. In doing so, we understand the existence of different conceptualizations of both organizational learning and knowledge management, and relate them to several organizational models and levels of organizational learning. The learning organization model is related to the highest level of consciousness and to the highest level of learning: triple-loop learning. We associate this with an organizational learning perspective that stresses the importance of mindfulness, mindful learning, and with a knowledge management perspective that considers that knowledge might be a hindrance for real learning. Mindful learning has to do with being fully conscious, mindful, humble, with no knowledge; otherwise we only increase knowledge. To learn is not simply to collect knowledge. It is important to learn to observe without previous knowledge. Therefore, from this perspective, knowledge will in fact be a hindrance for organizational learning.


  1. Argyris, C., & Schön, D. (1974). Theory in practice: Increasing professional effectiveness. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  2. Argyris, C., & Schön, D. (1978). Organizational learning: A theory of action perspective. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  3. Argyris, C., & Schön, D. (1996). Organizational learning II: Theory, method and practice. Reading: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  4. Baer, R. A., Smith, G. T., Hopkins, J., Krietemeyer, J., & Toney, L. (2006). Using self-report assessment methods to explore facets of mindfulness. Assessment, 13, 27–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baron, J. N., & Kreps, D. M. (1999). Strategic human resources: Frameworks for general managers. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  6. Bateson, G. (1972). Steps to an ecology of mind. New York: Ballantine.Google Scholar
  7. Beck, D., & Cowan, C. (1996). Spiral dynamics: Mastering values, leadership, and change. Malden: Blackwell Publishers.Google Scholar
  8. Berger, P. L., & Luckmann, T. (1966). The social construction of reality. A treatise in the sociology of knowledge. Garden City: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  9. Blackler, F. (1995). Knowledge, knowledge work and organizations: An overview and interpretation. Organization Studies, 16(6), 1021–1046.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bohm, D. (1980). Wholeness and the implicate order. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Boucouvalas, M. (1993). Consciousness and learning: New and renewed approaches. In S. Merriam (Ed.), An update on adult learning theory. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  12. Brown, J. S., & Duguid, P. (1991). Organizational learning and communities-of-practice: Toward a unified view of working, learning, and innovation. Organization Science, 2(1), 40–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological wellbeing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 822–848.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Brown, K. W., Ryan, R. M., & Creswell, J. D. (2007). Mindfulness: Theoretical foundations and evidence for its salutary effects. Psychological Inquiry, 18, 211–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cacioppe, R., & Edwards, M. G. (2005). Seeking the holy grail of organizational development: A synthesis of integral theory, spiral dynamics, corporate transformation and developmental action inquiry. Leadership and Organizational Development Journal, 26(2), 86–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Chiva, R. (2004). Repercussions of complex adaptive systems on product design management. Technovation, 24(9), 707–711.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Chiva, R. (2014). The common welfare human resource management system. Personnel Review, 43(6), 937–956.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chiva, R. (2017). The learning organization and the level of consciousness. The Learning Organization Journal. In press. 24(3), 150–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Chiva, R., & Alegre, J. (2005). Organizational learning and organizational knowledge: Towards the integration of two approaches. Management Learning, 36(1), 47–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Chiva, R., Grandío, A., & Alegre, J. (2010). Adaptive and generative learning: Implications from complexity theories. International Journal of Management Reviews, 12(2), 114–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Clegg, S. R., Kornberger, M., & Rhodes, C. (2005). Learning/Becoming/Organizing. Organization, 12(2), 147–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Cohen, W. M., & Levinthal, D. A. (1990). Absorptive capacity: A new perspective on learning and innovation. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35(1), 128–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Cook, S. D., & Yanow, D. (1996). Culture and organizational learning. In M. D. Cohen & L. S. Sproull (Eds.), Organizational learning (pp. 430–459). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  24. Cowan, C. C., & Todorovic, N. (2000). Spiral dynamics: The layers of human values in strategy. Strategy & Leadership, 28(1), 4–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Crossan, M., Lane, H. W., & White, R. E. (1999). An organizational learning framework: From intuition to institution. Academy of Management Review, 24(3), 522–537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Dane, E. (2011). Paying attention to mindfulness and its effects on task performance in the workplace. Journal of Management, 37(4), 997–1018.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Drucker, F. (1954). The practice of management: The study of the most important function in American society. New York: Harper & Brothers.Google Scholar
  28. Easterby-Smith, M., Snell, R., & Gherardi, S. (1998). Organisational learning: Diverging communities of practice? Management Learning, 29(3), 259–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Elkjaer, B. (2004). Organizational learning: The ‘Third Way’. Management Learning, 35(4), 419–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Fiol, C. M., & O’Connor, E. J. (2003). Waking up! Mindfulness in the face of bandwagons. Academy of Management Review, 28, 54–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gärtner, C. (2011). Putting new wine into old bottles: Mindfulness as a micro-foundation of dynamic capabilities. Management Decision, 49(2), 253–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gebser, J. (1949). The ever-present origin. Athens: Ohio University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Gherardi, S. (1999). Learning as problem-driven or learning in the face of mystery? Organization Studies, 20(1), 101–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Giluk, T. L. (2009). Mindfulness, big five personality, and affect: A meta-analysis. Personality and Individual Differences, 47, 805–811.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Girard, J. P., & Girard, J. L. (2015). Defining knowledge management: Toward an applied compendium. Online Journal of Applied Knowledge Management, 3(1), 1–20.Google Scholar
  36. Glomb, T. M., Duffy, M. K., Bono, J. E., & Yang, T. (2011). Mindfulness at work. Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management, 30, 115–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Grant, R. M. (1996). Prospering in dynamically-competitive environments: Organizational capability as knowledge integration. Organization Science, 7, 375–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Graves, C. W. (1970). Levels of existence: An open system theory of values. The Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 10(2), 131–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Gunaratana, B. H. (2002). Mindfulness in plain English. Boston: Wisdom Publications.Google Scholar
  40. Hanh, T. N. (1976). The miracle of mindfulness. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  41. Huber, G. P. (1991). Organizational learning: The contributing processes and the literatures. Organization Science, 2, 88–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Hülsheger, U. R., Alberts, H. J., Feinholdt, A., & Lang, J. W. (2013). Benefits of mindfulness at work: The role of mindfulness in emotion regulation, emotional exhaustion, and job satisfaction. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98(2), 310–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Krishnamurti, J. (1994). On learning and knowledge. New York: Harper San Francisco.Google Scholar
  44. Laloux, F. (2014). Reinventing organizations: A guide to creating organizations inspired by the next stage in human consciousness. Brussels: Nelson Parker.Google Scholar
  45. Langer, E. J. (1989a). Mindfulness. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo.Google Scholar
  46. Langer, E. J. (1989b). Minding matters: The consequences of mindlessness-mindfulness. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 22, 137–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Langer, E. J. (2005). On becoming an artist. New York: Ballantine.Google Scholar
  48. Langer, E. J. (2009). Mindfulness versus positive evaluation. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology (2nd ed., pp. 279–293). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Langer, E. J., & Moldoveanu, M. (2000). Mindfulness research and the future. Journal of Social Issues, 56, 129–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Langer, E., & Piper, A. (1987). The prevention of mindlessness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53(2), 280–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Leonard-Barton, D. (1992). Core capabilities and core rigidities: A paradox in managing product development. Strategic Management Journal, 13, 111–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Levinthal, D. A., & Rerup, C. (2006). Crossing an apparent chasm: Bridging mindful and less mindful perspectives on organizational learning. Organization Science, 17, 502–513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Marlatt, G. A., & Kristeller, J. L. (1999). Mindfulness and meditation. In W. R. Miller (Ed.), Integrating spirituality into treatment (pp. 67–84). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  54. Mintzberg, H. (1989). Mintzberg on management: Inside our strange world of organizations. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  55. Murray, P., & Donegan, K. (2003). Empirical linkages between firm competencies and organizational learning. The Learning Organization, 10(1), 51–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Nelson, R., & Winter, S. (1982). An evolutionary theory of economic change. Cambridge, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  57. Nielsen, R. P. (1993). Woolman’s ‘I am We’ triple-loop action-learning: Origin and application in organization ethics. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 29(1), 117–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Nonaka, I. (1994). A dynamic theory of organizational knowledge creation. Organization Science, 5(1), 14–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Nonaka, I., & Takeuchi, H. (1995). The knowledge creating company. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  60. Örtenblad, A. (2002). Organizational learning: A radical perspective. International Journal of Management Reviews, 4, 87–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Robertson, B. J. (2015). Holacracy: The new management system for a rapidly changing world. New York: Henry Holt and Company.Google Scholar
  62. Senge, P. (1990). Fifth discipline. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  63. Spender, J. C. (1996). Making knowledge the basis of a dynamic theory of the firm. Strategic Management Journal, 17, 45–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Swieringa, J., & Wierdsma, A. (1992). Becoming a learning organization: Beyond the learning curve. Wokingham: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  65. Tolle, E. (2005). A new earth: Awakening to your life’s purpose. New York: Dutton.Google Scholar
  66. Tosey, P. C., Visser, M., & Saunders, M. N. K. (2012). The origins and conceptualisations of `triple-loop’ learning: A critical review. Management Learning, 43(3), 289–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Tsang, E. W. K. (1997). Organizational learning and the learning organization: A dichotomy between descriptive and prescriptive research. Human Relations, 50(1), 73–89.Google Scholar
  68. Visser, M. (2003). Gregory Bateson on deutero-learning and double bind: A brief conceptual history. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 39(3), 269–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Visser, M. (2007). Deutero-learning in organizations: A review and reformulation. Academy of Management Review, 32(2), 659–667.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Weick, K. E., & Putnam, T. (2006). Organizing for mindfulness: Eastern wisdom and western knowledge. Journal of Management Inquiry, 15, 275–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Weick, K. E., & Sutcliffe, K. M. (2006). Mindfulness and the quality of organizational attention. Organization Science, 17(4), 514–524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Wilber, K. (2000). A theory of everything: An Integral vision for business, politics, science and spirituality. Boston: Shambala Publications.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ricardo Chiva
    • 1
  • Rafael Lapiedra
    • 1
  • Joaquín Alegre
    • 2
  • Sandra Miralles
    • 1
  1. 1.Universitat Jaume ICastellón de la PlanaSpain
  2. 2.Universitat de ValènciaValenciaSpain

Personalised recommendations