Learning organizations in crisis environments: Characteristics of deployed military units

Raffaella Di Schiena, Geert Letens, Jennifer Farris, Eileen Van Aken

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In the current global economy, learning is seen as a pre-requisite for the survival of today?s organizations. This should be particularly true for organizations that operate in crisis settings and need to adapt and respond quickly to changes in a complex, hostile, and volatile environment. Organizations are often said to be more likely to adapt to this kind of environment when they behave as "Learning Organizations" (LO). Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to investigate whether deployed military units actually show characteristics of a LO in the context of a mission, as opposed to military units engaged in territorial activities. Two prominent multidimensional models of LO constitute the theoretical background of this research: Peter Senge?s five disciplines and Örtenblad?s academically-founded four characteristics of a LO. Senge?s dimensions are quantitatively measured through the development of a new LO questionnaire. Quantitative analysis demonstrates that Systems Thinking and Personal Mastery were significantly more present in mission units than in territorial units. The analysis of Örtenblad?s characteristics through semi-structured interviews reveals potential impediments to change for dangerous operational functions and calls for future research that relates leadership styles to LO characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
StatePublished - 2012
Event62nd IIE Annual Conference and Expo 2012 - Orlando, FL, United States
Duration: May 19 2012May 23 2012


Conference62nd IIE Annual Conference and Expo 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityOrlando, FL


  • Crisis environments
  • Learning organizations
  • Military
  • Questionnaire


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