The mystification of organizational learning

Victor J. Friedman, Raanan Lipshitz, Micha Popper

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Despite the growing popularity of organizational learning and the proliferation of literature on the subject, the concept remains elusive for researchers and managers alike. This article argues that enduring uncertainty about the meaning and practice of organizational learning reflects its so-called mystification. It attributes mystification to five features of the field: (a) ever-increasing conceptual diversity, (b) anthropomorphizing organizational learning, (c) a split in the field between visionaries and skeptics, (d) the reification of terminology, and (e) active mystification of the concept. The article explains and illustrates how the literature on organizational learning has contributed to these processes of mystification. It concludes by specifying a number of strategies that researchers and practitioners can employ to demystify the concept of organizational learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-30
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Management Inquiry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2005


  • Knowledge management
  • Learning organization
  • Organization learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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