JICA Ogata Research Institute

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Limits of the Concepts of Organisational Learning and Learning Organisation for Government-owned International Development Agencies

The concepts of organisational learning and the learning organisation (LO) emerged to cope with a rapidly changing global environment. Yet, little has been discussed about the benefits of the concepts for governmental organisations. This article focuses on a unique type of organisation, namely government-owned international development agencies (GIDAs) and discusses the utility of the concepts for them. First, the article reviews the existing literature on the two concepts and the characteristics of GIDAs. It then argues that the concepts are of limited utility for GIDAs because of the contexts in which GIDAs are embedded. The concepts encourage organisations to take risks, experiment, and perform double-loop learning; however, factors facing GIDAs such as tightly regulated mandates, strict accountability requirements, strong political and bureaucratic pressures, ambiguous goals, and cultural values in overseas offices in non-Western countries discourage the GIDAs from living up to the potential the concepts offer.

This article represents a part of JICA Ogata Sadako Research Institute for Peace and Development’s project, “Countermeasures to Institutional Duality: Cases of Bilateral Development Cooperation Agency’s Overseas Offices.”

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