Going Beyond Total Quality: The Characteristics, Techniques, and Measures of Learning Organizations

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Business | Organizational Behavior and Theory


The popular total quality management (TQM) approach has tended to focus on internal processes, rather than external issues such as competitiveness and market appeal, and is more reactive and adaptive than anticipative. The time has come to go beyond TQM and to understand the nature and application of organizational learning. Learning organizations envision change, are committed to generating and transferring new knowledge and innovation, and have learned how to learn. TQM may be embedded in the learning organization, but TQM is but the first step or wave in transforming and creating organizations which continuously expand their abilities to change and shape their futures. This article first defines and identifies the characteristics of a learning organization, then explores some techniques to develop and transform an organization into a learning organization, and finally suggests some traditional and newer techniques, such as data envelopment analysis (DEA), as ways to measure and evaluate organizational learning.


DOI: 10.1108/eb028822