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Learning Organization

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 56 Issue: 9 Dated: September 2008 Pages: 71-75
George Cartwright
Date Published
September 2008
5 pages
This article advocates law enforcement agencies’ using Peter Senge’s concept of creating a “learning organization” in order to improve organizational effectiveness and enhance the recruitment and retention of personnel.
In the early 1990s, Senge wrote about “a learning organization.” Three factors indicate whether or not an organization is a learning organization. First, in a learning organization, individual personnel view their current assignment in terms of how it contributes to the mission of the organization as a whole. Second, there is a balance between competition and cooperation among personnel. Competing ideas and efforts to excel energize an organization; however, communication of ideas must result in a cooperative consensus for action, followed by cooperation with coworkers in achieving the organization’s mission. Third, a learning organization is persistent in reviewing research on best practices under a mindset that the organization can always improve on the framing of its mission and efforts to achieve that mission. The development of such a learning organization requires an investment in people, and investments take time to mature. Learning organizations develop in others the ability to analyze issues, which leads to a deeper understanding of the goals of the organization and how they can be achieved. Each individual in the organization feels he/she is part of an evolving organization, providing both an input of ideas and an output of action whose quality improves the overall quality of the organization’s mission.