Moral foundations of the learning organization

Robin Stanley SNELL

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Characteristics of learning organizations (LOs) include free exchange across communities of practice, networked knowledge and experience, continual improvement, learning leadership, open dialogue, continual transformation and protean psychological contracts. I identify 10 moral foundations of LOs. They would house communal business cultures, accountable to Aristotelian and Kantian ethics. Power blocs would allow space for quieter, less obtrusive contributions to be valued, rather than imposing exploitative or mercenary discourses of appropriation. LOs would strive to improve their records of meeting stakeholders' moral claims. They would respond humbly to stakeholder criticism. Leadership would be humble and virtue seeking. There would be civil liberties. LOs would build, debug and update their own moral traditions. They would treat employees with compassion. They would also give special help and support to those challenged by obsolescence. There would be transparent operations and decision-making, engendering critical trust. I suggest how aspiring LOs may try to overcome problems of human defensiveness, limited moral reasoning capacity and fragmented moral terrain, and build these 10 moral foundations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-342
Number of pages24
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2001


  • Development
  • Ethics
  • Learning organization
  • Moral climate
  • Morality


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