Advanced paper discussion proposal: Deconstruction, Research and Organisational Learning

Year: 1998

Author: Garrick, John, Rhodes, Carl

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In this paper, we make a case for the use of deconstruction to inform research into organisational learning. We offer a critique of existing methodological constructions of organisations as learning systems and challenge the knowledge assumptions on which the development and conceptualisation of learning organisations often rests. We also critique much of the research in organisational learning as it is frequently legitimated through the progress myth that learning will lead to commercial success, and that commercial success will lead to social progress.

We highlight a number of possible ways that the textual practice of deconstruction can contribute to a meta-theoretical framework for theorising and researching organisational learning. In doing so we stress that as an approach deconstruction is not reducible to a set of techniques that can be systematically applied. As such there are significant concerns that it will not count in contemporary research recognition frameworks (eg research quantums and funding formulae).

Our perspective on researching organisational learning is presented as a way of thinking about organisations. Our contention is that significant potential is being ignored (or shut down) in research into organisational learning by its neglect of hidden epistemological assumptions which are further obscured by managerialist research agendas which search for instrumental techniques to re-address people as knowledge workers. Knowledge generated through research at this postmodern moment appears to be prized in so far as it can generate a market advantage, and can be measured by observable competencies, and numerically and financially based performance indicators. We conclude by attempting to open up new and radical avenues for research through a deconstruction of deconstruction.