Programmed, autonomous-formal and spontaneous organizational learning

C. K. PAK, Robin Stanley SNELL

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

9 Citations (Scopus)


Organizational learning (OL) has been represented either as the systematic governance of collective expertise or as a relatively anarchic process of implicit transaction within and across fluid, dispersed communities of practice. Qualitative case-study research open to both perspectives was conducted in a not-for-profit service organization, a franchisee company and a vertically integrated company, all based in Hong Kong. Two forms of OL as systematic governance were found: 'programmed' OL (POL) and 'autonomous-formal' OL (AFOL), respectively. The relative emphasis on POL and AFOL appeared to vary from organization to organization, and to be influenced by management philosophy and by institutional frameworks such as professionalization and franchisee status. A 'spontaneous' and dispersed form of implicitly transacted OL (SOL) was also found. SOL appeared to reflect natural exuberance but was attenuated when colleagues regarded knowledge as a commodity. There appeared to be synergy between AFOL and SOL.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-288
Number of pages14
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2003


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