Organization as Learning:
a Comprehensive Evolutionary Framework.

VII Congreso Hispano-Francés de la Asociación Europea de Dirección de Empresas (AEDEM).
Lleida, Junio de 1997

Antonio Grandío Botella.
Ricardo Chiva Gómez.
Predepartamental Unit of Business Administration and Marketing.
Universitat Jaume I

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Aiming to integrate some new Management and Organization approaches (Learning Organizations, TQM etc.) with the older ones (Strategic Management, Resources Based View etc.), and based upon a constructivist view, this paper proposes a continuum of the collective "weltanchauung" and the meanings shared by both academic and organizations communities. It is distinguished two main dimensions: the vertical or Organizational, regarding 7 levels of Learning (Conditioned, Operating, Imitative, Strategic, Representational, Aware and Realizing) and the horizontal or Social (close to the Schein's concept of culture, ranging from "artefacts" to "basic assumptions") from which seven stages come out: Familiar, Normative, Social, Economic, Informative, Systemic and Complex.

1.- Introduction.

Terms such as Learning Organizations (Senge, 1990), TQM, Transformational Organizations (Banner & Gagné, 1995) etc. are increasingly accepted in the Management and Organization literature. However, in spite of the great amount of references made to differentiate earlier approaches from the newer ones, there has still not been developed a theoretical effort in building a comprehensive framework which would make sense of these disciplines evolution, and that also would be able to suggest an understandable evolution of company's configuration.An attempt to contribute to the building of such a framework is made, in this paper, with the help of two important dimensions: learning and culture within organizations.Although Management or Organizational Science is still young, there are as many studies and theories as little consensus to describe, explain and even predict organizations or companies behaviours. This diversity of approaches reflects how complex organizations are and also the increasing subtlety of the organizational studies (Astley & Van de Ven, 1983). As Kickert (1980) states, Organizational Science seems to have all the characteristics of the so called by Kuhn (1962) a pre-paradigmatic science, as it appears that so many approaches, terms, ideas and "paradigms" constantly proliferate (Pfeffer, 1982). Gioia and Pitre (1990) defend a "multi-paradigmatic" approach in theory building process as it is necessary a wider perspective, as opposed to a unique and consolidated paradigm (Kuhn, 1962). Many theorists have tried to gather and group all the schools of thought and approaches (Scott, 1961; Koontz, 1961; Hutchinson, 1967; Scott & Michell, 1972; George, 1972; Perrow, 1973; Burrell & Morgan, 1979; Pfeffer, 1982; Astley & Van de Ven, 1983; Bolman & Deal, 1984; Scott, 1987), however the problem stays as they are merely typologies of schools, without any comprehensive and integrative view of their evolution. Nevertheless, as Astley and Van de Ven (1983) enunciate, it is necessary to carry out an integrative process in order to identify relations and contradictions among the different approaches if we wish to improve our organizational knowledge. Our article pretends not only to integrate the different approaches, but also to understand their evolution and even bring out a possible company's evolution.

2.- Two Evolutionary Dimensions: Learning and Culture.

For all our purposes, learning is understood as a synonymous of organizing: "Organizing is instrumentalize under a new and unique ideological, semantical, linguistical, economical, political or religious unit, those which previously consisted of several units, groups, parts or meanings. And, also, to some extent, organize is synonymous of intelligence and comprehension. So, Organizing, in the dynamic sense, is also learning, continuous improvement (kaizen). But, paradoxically, organizing also implies the opposite of what we are saying. A new order requires the previous chaos of the older one. So that, dynamically considered, the order takes in itself the seed of the disorder and vice versa … for instance, we could understand that life and death are concepts that we have artificially differentiated: it is the same negantropic or biologic impulse what drives the child to be born and what drives him or her to death. And, phenomenologically, the child dies to become an adolescent and this to become an adult." (Grandío, 1996a).

In other words: organize is a "sense making" process, close to those that leaders do. This dichotomic digression recalls the famous Schumpeter's "creative destruction" (1911) concept which he thought to be the essence of the economic development.So organizing is a complex phenomenon which implies various dimensions (Grandío, 1996a): Creates economy of resources, sense or meaning, union under greater identities, harmony, co-ordination and reduction of the friction and uncertainty.But, at the same time, each one of these characteristics has their "dark" side: Treats as externalities non quantifiable costs (social, ecological etc.), conceptually "represents" as an enemy or threat to nonsense (represented as "environment") or to different meanings, manage other entities in an isolated way, create repression, conflict or painful dualities in order to bring harmony and finally, as the Autopoietic Theory (Maturana & Varela, 1980; Krogh, Roos & Slocum, 1995; Whitaker, 1995) suggests, the more they get certainty the more they increase uncertainty, because of the clear-cut focus (figure) makes the background out of focus and fuzzy (all increasing of inner certainty is accompanied of outer uncertainty).In sum we have the two coin sides of the organizing concept: organize and "chaotize": the disorder of the old order is the new order. This dynamic sense of organizing is what we propose as a synonymous of learning, and it will be represented in the figure as the vertical Orientation. This implies a movement through "the being" of the organization itself, from the most physical or "configured" to the ultimate "essence" or soul of it. It belongs to the ontological field and can be explained by the used level of abstraction when assessing its nature. Maybe from that we could think that learning means searching the ultimate essence. Closed terms to this dimension are the Essences, Principles and Practices levels of Senge (1990). By Horizontal Orientation we mean the moving through the cultural phenomenon, the second dimension we referred, that we call "the doing", from the most external aspects of culture (artefacts), as Schein (1985) conceived them, through values, to the innermost or implicit basic assumptions.

  Figure 1: Two Evolutionary Dimensions: Society and Organization.


This can be seen in figure 1 where learning or organizing moves vertically from the most mechanical bottom to the most "illuminated" or conscious top (Insight). We could almost say that our "being" is utterly determined by our learning level, that is also to say: our "organizing mode". In the other dimension, we can understand our "shared meanings", the cultural basis ranging from the most explicit Schein's "artefacts" (that we rename as "practices") to the most implicit underlying assumptions (that we rename as "dogmas"). As we have noted, this latter dimension alludes to historic time bounded "line", whereas the former refers to "a-historic" non time bounded "being". These two dimensions are the base to understand any organization or even any human being. And the combination of both crystallizes in what we call stages. A stage can be understood as an actual event, a "paradigm" which can be divided into two dimensions: an organizing (learning) mode or level and a correspondent bunch of "shared meanings" or culture exhibited by a community of scientists or managers.

3.- Organizational Evolution: 7 Levels and 7 Stages.

We propose 7 levels of Learning with their correspondent Stages:

Table 1. - 7 Levels and 7 Stages.

  Learning Level Stage Topic   Insight respect previous Stage
7 Realizing Complex Creation ñ




Learning depend on the creation of new "insights"
6 Aware Systemic Learning Representations depend on "how we learn and build them"
5 Representational Informative Meanings Objectives depend on "how we see" (representation)
4 Strategic Economic Objectives Norms and Satisfaction depend on "what our objectives are"
3 Imitative Social Satisfaction Norms and Plans depend on "members satisfaction"
2 Operating Normative Norms Routines depend on what the norms dictate
1 Conditioned Familiar Routines  

The first two kind of learning levels (1 and 2) refers to what is well known in behaviourist psychology, and it has two main ways: classical conditioning, related to Pavlov theories (1926) and operant conditioning, related to Skinner (1938).Conditioned learning refers to synchronic association (pairing) between an neutral stimuli and an unconditioned stimuli (i.e. food), whereas the Operating one implies a diachronic association (contingency) between a behaviour and an ulterior reinforcement (let's recall the reinforcement Skinner's definition as "something that increases the probability of a behaviour -response in Skinner's terms- apparition") .The first one will be unconscious, and exemplified by the typical Pavlov's experiment where after several occasions a dog has been fed with a previous small bell ringing. In absence of the food, when this animal hears the bell salivates. The second learning level could be consequence of a simple reward or punishment depending on a wide spread of kinds of reinforcement. We all unconsciously learn everyday in this way by performing typical routines (driving a car or using our computer word processor) or norms (stopping the car at a red semaphore or pressing a key combination to save a document in our word processor). To cite some organizational analogies, we could find here the classical French & Raven (1959) Coercive Power.Associated to conditioned learning we refer here to the Familiar Stage, where our continuum starts. Possibly, the simplest and the oldest organization we can find is the family and it could have great analogy with the Mintzberg's Simple Structure (1979) or Entrepreneurial Configuration (1984). Examples of its artefacts are the figures of the parents, the owner, tools for hand working an so on, meanwhile the basic assumptions could be represented by paternalism, protection and obedience. Note the great analogy with the direct supervision co-ordinating mechanism (hereafter we substitute the term mechanism by the term "mode" because we shall introduce two new co-ordinating "modes" that cannot fit well with the mechanic view). Taylor's Scientific Management could fit in this stage.

Routines depend on Norms:

On the other hand, related to Operating Learning, we find the Normative Stage. Beyond the previous implicit familiarity where authority functioned through direct supervision, norms appear to be a further step which substitutes personal relationships with impersonal rules. "norms work for all", we do not need to expect some personal advising but simply follow what the laws dictate for a determinate situation. The more the norms comprehend all the organization casuistic, the more efficient the organization will be. Operating learning occurs due to rewards and punishments that reinforces the norms fulfilment, even more than the actual efficiency goals. From that, fear and lack of rules questioning seem to be generally present. Bureaucracy and Mechanic organizations (Mintzberg, 1979, 1984) with their operations standardization are good instances of this stage. In this stage, we can recognize the Strategic Planning as a representative Management school.

Norms depend on Satisfaction.

The Imitative Learning alludes to what it has been called Social, Observational or Vicarious Learning. Conspicuous authors in this framework are Bandura (1963). It refers to the capacity of learning from the observation of another's behaviour and, to a great extent and following the previous power analogy, we could find also three sub levels: the Traditional, Expert and Referent (or Charismatic) French & Raven's power.Its related Stage is the Social one. As the Human Relations School showed, all formal effort is accompanied by a counter acting informal power (Mayo, 1945). As Maslow (1959, 1969) pointed in his Belongingness Needs, people need to belong to a group and are motivated by other's acceptance. We call culture to all the co-ordinating phenomena that emerge because of this necessity. In economic terms, and regarding to the upper co-ordinating modes, control through culture is the cheapest way to co-ordinate. Freely accepted without a sense of pressure, culture represents an implicit norm both tacitly and unconsciously learned, created and performed by copying the others, and specially the leader's, behaviour.We could find the Organizational analogies in the Mintzberg's missionary organization. However, as we develop below, we have to distinguish (Grandío, 1996b) between what we call Missionary X (ranging from unions, political parties through religious organizations and even to sects) from Missionary Z (related to the highest learning level: realizing).Whereas this latter three kind of learning could be included in what Argyris call "Single Loop" learning and are close related to classical Psychology, Strategic Learning supposes a qualitative leap from which it could be assumed a certain degree of human free will and what economists call rationality. Although the economic sense of rationality is quite ambiguous (Grandío, 1996a), and its discussion goes beyond the purposes of this paper, it is useful to recall the Simon's concept of "limited rationality" and his understanding of organizational, even the human, behaviour as a kind of "problem solving process" (Simon, 1947, 1978, 1982). In this learning level there is finally some room for questioning if we are "going in the right direction", so it is evidently related to the concept of strategy. For us, it is important to emphasize the existing clear cut distinction in this vision between goals and resources, objectives and instruments, for it represents the core explanation of the actual paradigm in management (strategic management), and lay the foundations of the next learning level: the Representational. 

Table 2.- The Seven Learning Levels & Stages of Management: a Meaning Continuum.

Vertical Dimension Horizontal Dimension
Learning Level Stage Practices Meanings Dogmas
Conditioned Learning Familiar Parents  
Hand working   
Direct supervision
Operating Learning Normative Static Equilibrium  
Imitative Learning Social Mass Meeting  
Norms Standardization
Strategic Learning Economic Equilibrium  
Means and Resources   
Outputs Standardization
Winners & Losers  
Representational Learning Informative Data Bases  
Status Degrees   
Being up to date  
Skills Standardization
Aware Learning Systemic Team works  
Informal Relations   
Shared Knowledge  
Mutual Adaptation
Realizing Learning Complex Meditation  
Peak Experience   
(tuning in)
Creative Tension  


Norms and Safety depend on Objectives.

The rising of the strategic and economical rationality has its correlated phase: the Economic Stage. We all recognize that, in fact, it represents the actual paradigm in Organization and Management literature. In this stage, the core topic will be focused on the dichotomy of means and goals, from which a simplified rationality will rise. This approach will tend to control through results (let's recall the corresponding Mintzberg's Co-ordinating mode: Outputs Standardization). An obvious corollary is the Diversified/ Divisional Configuration (Mintzberg, 1979, 1984), which main emphasis lays on financial statements, ROI's, SBU's and the like. Also corresponds to the MBO techniques (objectives and means again). It includes a huge number of well known approaches but, widely considered, it ranges from the economical view of the M form linked to the Industrial Organization (Williamson, 1985, 1991), to the military planning increasingly shifting to strategic management of Ansoff (1965, 1976, 1979) and the intermediate postures owned to Porter (1985, 1991) with his popular Competitive Advantage.As objectives or outputs are the key aspects, people will tend to "hiper-differenciate" between this and the "means" to get them. This also implies a clear cut frontier between two processes: Formulating and Implementing and, probably, it reflects the organizational existing power boundaries.As the term Strategy comes from the military field, the term "enemy" is also a necessity, now euphemistically substituted with the term "rival". So, competition emerges as the natural (and essential) atmosphere where organizations are immersed. Although co-operation exist it is seen, again, as a mean to obtain the main goal: the ability to compete.

Objectives depend on Representations.

In a certain way, we could understand the Representational learning as a continuous interrogating about which the goals and the resources are, and if they are the right ones, what imply teleological questions. In this way this learning level go further, meaning that all depends on how we represent reality.Although the term representation has been finally chosen by us regarding to learning, the correspondent stage has been labelled as Informative for it embodies better the emerging "Information Era" propitiated specially by the explosion of the Information and Internet Technologies. But we can easily distinguish three sub phases (that is also to say learning levels) inside this broad stage (in order of abstraction): Informative, which would include what it seems to be the immediate alternative paradigm to Strategic Management (and the more theoretically closed to it): the Resource Based View (Prahalad & Hamel, 1990; Grant, 1991; Peteraff, 1993), Knowledge with its core focused in Knowledge Creation Management and which reflection can be seen in Drucker's (1993) new approaches (let's recall his "post capitalist society"), Nonaka (1991; 1996), Choo Chun Wei (1995, 1996), and Representation which has many analogies in Management literature: i.e. the Morgan's (1986) Images of Organization, Strategy as a Perspective in the 5 P's of Mintzberg's Theory (Mintzberg & Quinn, 1991), and all of his analogies of this with culture, personality of organization, "weltanschauung", ideology etc., Senge's (1990) Mental Models, Betis & Prahalad's (1995) Dominant Logic, the cited Autopoietic Theory (Maturana & Varela, 1980; Krog, Roos & Slocum, 1994, Whitaker, 1995) etc.Unlike the previous quantitative stage, what matters now is the qualitative aspect which focuses on "how is it" instead of "how much is it". Perhaps, to a certain extent, it also shows the "Noetic Absolute" (Brosse, 1982) of our western culture and civilization, since our next two levels have an unmistakable eastern flavour and, in the statistical and historical sense, their stages belong to an immediate future and require a huge "quantum leap", a copernican shift in our most basic assumptions about the world we live in.To boot, in an academic sense, we are deeply convinced that Representational level implies an actual synthesis between psychological and economical views. We say synthesis as opposed to eclecticism in the sense that it transcend both in a new level that we could be widely labelled as Business Organization Science that would include in its roots, obviously, many other social sciences like Sociology, Anthropology etc. in a new order to understand our new society of organizations (Drucker, 1993).

Representations depend on Learning.

Aware learning means the fact of an holistic taking notice of the actual "what is", staying in the present without dichotomies or contradictions (for instance between organization and environment), understanding this latter term in the sense of the Festinger (1957) cognitive dissonance. Paradoxically, let's note that the very being plenty aware of any contradiction becomes a truly awareness state. As Krishnamurti (1969) says:

"The images create the space between you and what you observe and in that space there is conflict, so what we are going to find out now together whether it is possible to be free of the space we create, not only outside ourselves but in ourselves, the space which divides people in all their relationships."

The awareness state implies more flexibility than the representation one; in fact goes beyond it. It could be founded in the nature of Dialogue such as Bohm (1988; 1993) and Senge (1990) has described it, implying suspense of any thought, impulse, judgement and serious attention to the overall process is considered. Image (or representation) is, at the most, a provisional researching instrument in expectation of a new lighten about any phenomenon.Its correspondent stage is the Systemic. We know how systemic thinking implies seeing the world as an interrelated wholeness. Instead of causal and linear links among parts, a system is a recognizable dynamic pattern of relations. Systems theory, we owe originally to Von Bertalanffy (1956), has its ultimate organizational development in Senge's "Fifth Discipline" and in his "Learning Company". And, as Betis and Prahalad (1995) say, learning new things means, to the same extent, unlearning the old ones.

Finally, Realizing learning implies the opening of new perceptive paths where previously there were only a poor or null sensibility. Moreover, new semantic nexus or differentials are established among categorical aggregates that were characterized by either their previous tightness or their separateness before. Closed concepts to this could be found in the "aha" of the Gestalt Psychology (Kohler, 1917). Roughly means a shift of cognitive configuration. Let's bethink that the well known English word "configuration", usually handled, by Mintzberg for instance, in the organizational field, represents an accurate translation of the German, and psychological, word "gestalt" .In sum, both terms lie on the assumption (linked to the previous learning level) that parts often derive their nature and purpose from the whole and cannot be understood apart from it. Moreover, in a systemic way, a mere summation process of individual elements cannot give account of the whole. Its core experience focuses in what Senge names as "Metanoia", term which also goes beyond the former learning modes. It represents an actual paradigm shift and, moreover, the changing from one stage to another. The metanoia acts also "automating" the previous sustained paradigm which became instrumental to the newer one. Experientially understood, this stage is named by Senge "Alignment" and has great analogies with what Maslow calls "Peak Experience" and Grandío (1996a) "Tuning In".Globally considered, as with the term representation synthesizes the innermost social and cultural aspect of our model, the term aware synthesizes the deepest learning aspect. But the term realizing synthesizes the necessary "insight" or "aha" to jump from a lower to an upper learning level, the creation of a new comprehension or relationship. Besides the already cited terms, we can find many other closed concepts: Creative Destruction (Schumpeter, 1934), We could insert here, as a natural development of the Learning Company, the "Fourfold Vision" (Rooke & Keeley, 1994), the "Seven Organization Energies" (Tosey, 1994) and finally, the Transformational Company view which is claimed to be a real new paradigm (Banner & Gagné, 47-55). 

Table 3.- Levels of Organizing/Learning, Human Needs and Psychology and Management Schools. Source of our own.

Learning Levels Maslow Psychology School Management School
Conditioned Physiological Classical Conditioning (Pavlov, 1904, 1926) Scientific Management (Taylor, Fayol)
Operating Security Operant Conditioning (Skinner, 1926)
Imitative Social Vicary, Observational (Bandura, 1963) Human Relations (Mc Gregor, Mayo)
Strategic Achievement Problem Solving (Simon, 1947, 1978) Strategic Management (Andrews, Ansoff, Porter)
Representational Status (Ego) Cognitivism (Miller, Galanter & Pribram, 1960). Constructivism Images of Organization (Morgan, 1986)
Aware Self Actualization Humanism (Mc. Gregor, Rogers, Maslow) Learning Company (Senge)
Realizing Transcendence Transpersonal (Maslow, 1950, 1968) Transformational (Banner & Gagné, 1995)

  4.- Levels, Styles and Scopes.

Classical authors like Simon (1991) state that learning takes place inside individual human heads and that organizations only learn because of the learning of their members and of the introduction of new members who have knowledge the organization did not previously had. However, this would deny the social context of learning in which individuals are embedded. But it is clear that there are more dimensions. On top of that, nowadays, it is constantly defended by many authors like Argyris and Schon (1996) the existence of organizational learning. This would be understood as the transfer of knowledge from the individual or group to the organization, which would explain that organizations maintain certain behaviours, values or basic assumptions through time, despite of the presence of the people that have insert them. Also, according to Cangelosi and Dill (1965), learning within organizations happens across three different levels: individual, group and organization. Although we agree with this typology, we prefer to name them Learning Scopes instead of levels, as we intend to stress that our learning levels imply degrees of learning, from the most basic to the most complexes. So, by scopes we will refer to horizons, from the single to the whole. Obviously, each level can embrace the three scopes, even when probably each of it have its core characteristics at a certain scope.As we comprehend the learning levels, we realize that each of them could obviously take place at individual, group or organizational scope. This is due to the chance of any learning to go further and consequently make the other two scopes learn: everything an individual learns could be understood and learnt by a group or even though by a whole institution or organization. From that it is evident that a continuous flux will occur from individuals to groups and the organization, from groups to individuals and the organization, and finally from the organization to individuals and groups. Despite whichever the Learning Level or the Scope, each company can be described or characterized by a particular way of learning or Learning Style (Shrivastava, 1983). Dibella, Nevis and Gould (1996) state that there are seven orientations, expressed as bipolar continuums, that can determine the Learning Style of a certain company or organization. These Learning Orientations are: knowledge source (internal / external), product process focus (product / process), documentation mode (personal / collective), dissemination mode (formal / informal), learning focus (adaptive / innovative), value-chain focus (design-make / market-deliver), and skill development focus (individual / group). This typology implies the different modes or ways of organizational learning and legitimates a non-normative approach, which means that depending on many internal and external variables, companies can develop a particular way of learning. Obviously, every Learning Style will coherently take place within a certain Learning Level, which could let us use the former concept as a useful clue pointing to a certain level.The evidence of differentiation in learning styles implies the huge complexity of the organizations and businesses and therefore of their understanding. The possibility of finding different styles in each learning level indicates the need of the avoidance of simplicity in Organization Science.

5.- The Cultural Aspect: the Doing.

As it has been stated above the second dimension, graphically expressed by an horizontal arrow, is the cultural aspect. This dimension relates to what individuals, groups and even the organization do. Behaviours, values and the most intrinsic, basic assumptions are included (Schein, 1985). Therefore we should imagine this horizontal dimension in every person and group of the organization and also in the organization itself. If this dimension is taken as explanatory to comprehend the evolution aimed in this paper, every stage, coming out from it and the other dimension, should be characterized by a different culture. Even if the reasons why the evolution occurs will be explained below, in this paragraph we must understand certain relationships between the learning an the social, which help us to better face this progress. Whenever a paradigm changes, inevitably something has been learned, which according to Schein (1995) is painful. At that time new basic assumptions are taken, and a so called transformational learning occurs. This typology of learning (transformational and generative (Senge, 1990) or incremental) is based on the process and we could track its origins since Buckley's (1967) Morphogenesis and Morphostasis concepts (Scott, 1992). Therefore if the learning suggest the acquisition of new basic assumption, which implies radical change we are talking of transformational learning. But if on the other hand the learning does not mean radical change in the way of seeing things we will speak generative or incremental learning (Senge, Schein, ). The latest approach does not insinuate a change in basic assumptions.

6.- An Evolving Continuum: Automation through Paradigms to Utopia.

From these two dimensions it will be able to understand the different stages that companies and organizational disciplines go through. However the main issue in this evolution will be to clarify the process, the dynamic aspect through which companies and people in them go further and change the paradigm.Obviously, none of these stages excludes the characteristics of the others, but rather it could be understood as a matter of goals and resources. The stage where an organization stays determines its consciousness goals, that we refer as "paradigm" (all attributes and characteristics belonging to this stage) and implies considering previous stages as transcended, assimilated and relegated to the subconscious, in a word: automated. In the same sense, future stages are considered as "desired", unfeasible and ultra-long term objectives: in sum: utopians. Perhaps we could address it as supra-conscious: that it still have not become conscious (for subconscious field was once conscious). We can find an instance in the driving car learning: first is something utopian, perhaps we feel it far from our capabilities and even extremely complicated. As we are practising, it absorbs almost all of our attention and consciousness. Finally, when we become an expert driver all skills required are working without taking any notice of it, automatically.In Organizational terms we might suppose we are in the Economic stage. Surely our main goals would be related to profits, performance, greater incomes, lower costs and the like. But, immediately we should have to mention what the "resources" (instrumental or logistical) are to manage in order to achieve these objectives. To our perspective, these resources can be divided in two: the operational or automated ones (you work "over" them) and the visionary or utopian (you work "towards" them).In decreasing order of importance, and among the operational resources, we find those attributes and characteristics of the social stage (human resource management, culture as a co-ordinating mechanism etc.) normative stage (rules and operation technology) and familiar stage (direct control, necessary commanding etc.).Similarly, and also in decreasing order of importance, among the visionary resources we would find the informative features (information technology, educational programs, intangible resources, skills acquisition and development etc.), the systemic ones (learning processes, team work, participating, shared knowledge etc.) and the complex ones (creative tension, awareness, intuition etc.). 

Figure 2: Articulating the Stages Evolution.  

7.- Inside the Paradigm.

As we have suggested, paradigm represents the "in use" stage in which our consciousness is focused and, therefore, clearly seen. This paradigm contrast against all the rest of unfocused stages, whose features are seen in a foggy manner.In order to understand how this paradigm behaves through time, we have mentioned above two related dimensions: the social and the organizing, the culture and the learning aspect.The manifestation over time and space of each learning level is what we call a stage or paradigm. Each stage has, of course, its three social levels: practices, meanings and dogmas (artefacts, values and basic assumptions in the Schein -1988- sense). So, a stage are the manifestation, reincarnation o articulation, reflection in time and space (historically understood) of a determinate certain learning level. In other words, every stage will be characterized by a level of learning, which is the institutionalized way of learning.We could surmise two complementary sociodynamic modes of the inner paradigm evolving: the bottom-up (in the Durkheim sense) or the Up-Down one (related to Stuart Mill or Weber framework). But, whatever the mode would be, we always find three typical communities in each stage: the "pre-paradigmatics" (focused in previous stage representations), the "paradigmatics" and the "post-paradigmatics".Dominating over the traditional pre-paradigmatics, the most of people (in a statistical centrality sense) in each stage "shares" the dogmas, meanings and practices that belong to that determinate certain learning level: we could call this majority: the paradigmaticts. But are the post-paradigmatics those that challenge existing stage with an increasing criticism (Up-down). If this fact is added to that of a growing disaffection among the "usual practitioners" of the main paradigm (Botton-up), due to environmental evolution or social transformation, we have the engine which moves the evolution towards later stages.As an example and taking again, as an instance, the economic stage, we can find a majority that defends this paradigm distinguished by strategic learning. However, and due to evident social and technology transformation, among others, previous paradigmatic people have begun to challenge and/or to replace many of the axioms of the actual paradigm. In this process they will accept new approaches as little differentiated from the older owned ones, that do not need to be considered as a new paradigm. At the same time post-paradigmatics begin to be aware or even realize the sense of the paradigm and begin to demand a new one.


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KRISHNAMURTI J. 1.969 Freedom from the Known harper

KUHN, THOMAS S. 1.962 The Structure of Scientific Revolutions UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS

LEVY, DAVID 1.994 Chaos Theory and Strategy: Theory Application, and Managerial Implications STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT JOURNAL VOL. 15, 167-178, 1994

MARCH, JAMES G. & SIMON, HERBERT A. 1.987 1.961 Teoría de la Organización ARIEL ECONOMIA

MASLOW, ABRAHAM 1.973 El Hombre Autorrealizado KAIROS. Barcelona,

MASLOW, ABRAHAM 1.990 1.971 La Personalidad Creadora KAIROS

MASLOW, ABRAHAM H. 1.991 1.970 Motivación y Personalidad DIAZ DE SANTOS, MADRID

MINTZBERG, HENRY 1.984 1.979 La Estructuración de las Organizaciones ARIEL ECONOMIA

MINTZBERG, HENRY 1.992 1.986 El Poder en la Organización ARIEL ECONOMIA

MINTZBERG, HENRY 1.991 1.989 Mintzberg y la Dirección DIAZ DE SANTOS

MINTZBERG, HENRY 1.994 The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning PRENTICE HALL HEMEL HEMPSTEAD

MINTZBERG, HENRY & BRIAN QUINN, JAMES BRIAN 1.993 1.991 The Strategy Process: concepts, contexts, cases PRENTICE HALL NEW JERSEY

MORGAN, GARETH 1.990 1.986 Imágenes de la Organización RA-MA MADRID

MORGAN, GARETH 1.989 Creative Organization Theory: a Resourcebook SAGE PUBLICATIONS

MORGAN, GARETH 1.983 Beyond Method: Strategies for Social Research SAGE PUBLICATIONS LONDON

NONAKA, I. 1.994 A Dynamic Theory of Organizational Knowledge Creation organizational science. vol 5, nº 1

PERROW, C.N. 1.973 The Short and Glorious History of Organizational Theory organizational dynamics. vol 2: 2-15

PETERAF, MARGARET, A. 1.993 The Cornerstones of Competitive Advantage: a Resource-Based View STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT JOURNAL, VOL. 14 179-191

PFEFFER, J. 1.982 Organizations and Organizations Theory BALLINGER PUBLISHING COMPAnY

PORTER, MICHAEL E. 1.991 Towards a Dynamic Theory of Strategy STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT JOURNAL, WINTER SPECIAL ISSUE, 12, 1991, 95-117

PORTER, MICHAEL E. 1.995 Competing Interests Fortune interview

PORTER, MICHAEL E. (EN MINTZBERG, H. & QUINN, J.B. 1991) )1.980 How Competitive Forces Shape Strategy

PRAHALAD C.K. & HAMEL, GARY 1.994 Strategy as a Field of Study: Why Search for a New Paradigm? STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT JOURNAL VOL. 15, 5-16, 1994

ROULEAU, LINDA & SÈGUIN, FRANCINE 1.995 Strategy and Organization Theories: Commons Forms of Discourse JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT STUDIES 32:1 JANUARY 1995


SCHEIN, EDGAR H. 1.988 1.985 La Cultura Empresarial y el Liderazgo (Una Visión Dinámica) PLAZA Y JANES

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SCOTT, W.G. 1.961 Organization Theory: an Overview and Appraisal ACADEMY OF MANAGEMENT JOURNAL, APRIL, 7-26

SCOTT, W.G. 1.987 Organizations: Rational, Natural and Open Systems prentice hall

SCOTT, W.G. & MITCHELL, T.R. 1.972 Organization Theory dorsey press

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STACEY, RALPH D. 1.995 The Science of Complexity: an Alternative Perspective for Strategic Change Processes STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT JOURNAL, VOL. 16, 477-495 1995

VAN DE VEN, ANDREW H. 1.992 Suggestions for Studying Strategy Process: a Research Note STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT JOURNAL VOL. 13, 169-188, 1992

VON KROGH, GEORG, ROOS, JOHAN & SLOCUM, KEN 1.994 An Essay on Corporate Epistemology STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT JOURNAL VOL. 15, 53-71, 1994

WERNERFELT, BIRGER 1.995 The Resource-Based View of the Firm: Ten Years After STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT JOURNAL VOL. 16, 171-174, 1995

WHITAKER, R. 1.995 Self-Organization, Autopoiesis, and Enterprises Internet Public Archive.

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