Double-loop learning

Robin Hill (BSRAH@TWP.AC.NZ)
Wed, 30 Oct 1996 15:55:14 +1300

Hi PCP folks,

This list seems to have been very quiet for a while. I thought some
of you might like to put your minds to something (especially
management and organisational folks), so here goes.....

Has anyone in the PCP field done anything relating to Chris Argyris'
concept of Double-loop learning? First, I haven't been able to find
very much clear cut material on double-loop learning, and have a
rather impoverished understanding of it? Second, it seems to me that
the double-loop processing concept might have some relationship with
the constructive alternativism concept, or related concepts.

This sort of thing seems important to the Organisational Behavior
class that I teach. Hence I'd like to know more about it and also
find out if any other PCP'ers have also thought about it.

I know that someone is now going to respond with "Excuse my
ignorance, Robin, but what is double-loop learning?" Part of my
answer to that is "Well, that is what I'm trying to find out." The
second part of my answer is: I understand it refers primarily to
problem solving and decision making processes, particularly by
managers. Managers become rewarded (with promotions and
success, etc.) for making relatively quick, and off-the-cuff
solutions and decisions. They may not address the alternatives.
They're thinking only "inside the box." Hence they have only
processed the problem they face through a single loop.

A second loop occurs if they consider the problem from an alternative
point of view. Perhaps even role play from another point of view.
Perhaps think about he problem from a different academic discipline.
I do this all the time, and often think of it as a constructivist
way of behaving. Any other thoughts? Any references you can tell me

Dr. Robin Hill

Senior Lecturer & Research Leader
Department of Business Studies
The Waikato Polytechnic
Private Bag 3036
Hamilton 2020
New Zealand

Fax. NZ (07) 834-8802