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From learning organization to practically wise organization Jennifer Rowley Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK, and Paul Gibbs Middlesex University, London, UK Abstract Purpose – Although the notion of wisdom confronts the economic rationale of business organizations, this paper aims to argue that organizations are coming under increasing pressure not only to learn, change and adapt, but also to take actions that are ethically acceptable and respond to the expectations of multiple stakeholders, or in other words to act wisely. Accordingly this article seeks to progress the debate on the relationship between organizational learning, learning organizations and wisdom, in pursuit of a new version of the model of the learning organization, the practically wise organization. Design/methodology/approach – First, the literature on the learning organization and organizational learning is reviewed with a view to the identification of useful models and concepts. The paucity of reference to wisdom in that literature is noted. The following sections develop the theme of practical wisdom and, the essence of the practically wise organization, respectively. Finally a model for the practically wise organization that is both a virtuous and a learning organization is proposed. Findings – The paper finds that a practically wise organization is a learning organization whose learning architecture is based on the principles of practical wisdom. Such an organization manages the processes associated with the seven pillars of wisdom: understanding dynamic complexity; developing personal wisdom competency; deliberating towards ethical models; refreshing shared sustainable vision; group wisdom dynamics; deliberated praxis; and embodied learning. Originality/value – The article is a first step towards extending the theory and practice associated with the learning organization and organizational learning to embrace the multi-stakeholder, ethically and morally informed perspectives embedded in the notion of practical wisdom. Keywords Learning organizations, Corporate social responsibility, Business ethics Paper type Conceptual paper Introduction This article was prompted by an invitation, embedded in a call for papers for a special issue of this journal, to envisage the future of or for, the learning organization. Our proposition is that such a future must embrace and interpret the concept of practical wisdom. Whilst acknowledging what might be perceived as the naı¨vete ´ of transplanting philosophical systems of thinking founded in a pre-modern era into a post-industrialised, instrumental and secular world (Case and Gosling, 2007) and in no sense underestimating the challenge of this endeavour, we seek to make a contribution to the integration of wisdom into organizational learning theory. We argue that the The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/0969-6474.htm
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