This literature review is part of the series Lessons for change about organisational learning, resulting from a collaboration between ActionAid, DFID, Sida and the Participation Group at the Institute of Development Studies to explore understandings of learning and to document innovative approaches. Organisational learning is increasingly being viewed as key to improving development performance and impact. However, there remains confusion around what the term means and how it translates into practice. This literature review aims to provide some insight in this area. More specifically, it highlights the importance of learning in the context of the current development environment; briefly summarises literature on knowledge, learning and the learning organisation from both the corporate and the development sectors; develops an understanding of learning as reflection and reflexivity; reviews a number of key theories which help to inform an improved understanding of learning as reflection and reflexivity; and explores some of the organisational implications for institutionalising this type of learning. In three chapters it discusses what we mean by learning and the learning organization; the characteristics of learning and reflection processes; challenges to reflective learning; and whether learning in development organisations is an achievable goal.
Institute of Development Studies