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Philosophy of Management

Volume 1, Issue 2, 2001

Making Sense

Michael Fielding
Pages 17-29

Learning Organisation or Learning Community?

This paper takes a close look at a central aspect of the work of Peter Senge, namely his advocacy of the learning organisation and the 'Communities of Commitment' that he suggests are its central dynamic. Echoing strands of the liberal-communitarian debate. Senge argues for 'the primacy of the whole and 'the community nature of the self as two of the three Galilean shifts which have the potential to enable business to accomplish fundamental changes in our ways of thinking and being which have thus far eluded other agencies of social and political transformation. My concern is that Senge is not at all clear about the relationship between organisation and community, or, indeed, what community actually is. Arguing that his account is disappointingly partial and damagingly flawed, I then suggest a number of sites for future philosophical work for those who wish to develop an emancipatory notion of community. I end by advocating the work of John Macmurray as a major source of philosophical insight and human wisdom, both with regard to community and the development of a person-centred philosophy of work. A second paper will explore some of this ideas on these matters more fully.

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