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Journal cover: Learning Organization, The

Learning Organization, The

ISSN: 0969-6474

Online from: 1994

Subject Area: Organization Studies

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Senge's many faces: problem or opportunity?

Document Information:
Title:Senge's many faces: problem or opportunity?
Author(s):Anders Örtenblad, (School of Business and Engineering, Halmstad University, Halmstad, Sweden)
Citation:Anders Örtenblad, (2007) "Senge's many faces: problem or opportunity?", Learning Organization, The, Vol. 14 Iss: 2, pp.108 - 122
Keywords:Learning organizations, Literature
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/09696470710726989 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to discuss both possibilities and problems with Senge's (1990) many faces in The Fifth Discipline, i.e. the fact that different authors refer to different excerpts from his book as his version of the learning organization.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper shows that the authors' understandings of Senge, in which a literature review resulted, are seen in the light of theories of travelling of management ideas, particularly the “translation model”.

Findings – The paper finds that both possibilities and problems with Senge's many faces were found. A fatal problem is that the many faces jeopardize the confidence in the concept and eventually its existence. But the strong connections to Senge's book, that the authors have, reduces the problems, and Senge's many faces might not cause that much trouble after all.

Research limitations/implications – The paper shows that anyone who wishes to can, for different reasons, refer to Senge, and his version of the learning organization, and thereby gain legitimacy. One does not have to be very accurate; as it seems, almost anything goes.

Practical implications – In the paper the “translation model” is divided into two sub-models, which probably will sharpen future translation research.

Originality/value – The paper is a study in which it is shown how authors understand other authors. This is an example that is rarely seen. Both possibilities and problems are discussed with vagueness to Senge's many faces. This is not very common. A special case of the translation model is developed (the “smorgasbord model”), better suited to deal with the type of idea that focuses on copying of excerpts from a specific book than the traditional translation model (the “whispering game model”).

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