Aim: It is the intention of this paper to review the issues and challenges organizations face when aspiring to embrace and enact the tenets of a learning organization; and in particular the perceived impact on management strategy, structure and leadership styles. The paper is predicated on the premise that learning and knowledge act as vital strategic resources, crucial not only to organizations in terms of competitive advantage but to ethical enterprise per se.
Background: Modern life is characterized by change, against the backdrop of this continual turmoil, organizational learning has emerged as a dominant theme within contemporary management theory, with many commentators increasingly locating the capacity of an aspiring organization to accommodate the ethos of organizational learning, as the vital component in ensuring enduring efficiency, innovation and competitiveness. However, the utility of such learning needs to be scrutinized and evaluated in terms of service need and expectation.
Origins of information: The paper will expand upon wider theoretical debates extant within the literature, by considering the concept and utility of the learning organization with specific reference to management reform extant within the British National Health Service (NHS).
Data analysis: During the course of the review the various the theoretical positions contributing to the notion of the learning organization will be analysed, the practical ramifications of which will be examined in the context of reflective practice, clinical supervision and the wider cultural background of nursing and the NHS.
Conclusions: The paper concludes that the NHS needs to reorientate management perspectives to focus attention more acutely on systems which are deliberately designed to facilitate shared learning, to unravel the ambiguities of organizational life, to affirm management belief in the nursing contribution and to achieve an as yet unrealized potential in terms of patient care and advanced nursing practice.