Re: Double-loop learning

Magnus Larsson (
Thu, 31 Oct 96 07:35:24 +0100

At 23.08 1996-10-30 +0100, you wrote:

>In other words, it's yet another handy management-training wheeze, divorced
>from any solid base in theory, of the kind which gets reinvented every 11
>years or so under a slightly new guise. (e.g. "faculty" - "ability" -
>"skill" (in the trainer, not the sensory-motor skills, sense) - competence
>- competency).
>if that sounds useful then it's because it's stated a wee bit more
>rigorously, so that comparisons to constructivist formulations become


I find your comments interesting, but just like Gary I think I'll have to
read them a few more times. No worries about feeling flamed here either. But
I'd like to make a few comments.

You say double-loop learning is divorced from any solid base in theory. I
think Argyris would have been not so much grumpy about that, but that he
would have asked you to illustrated that point. In fact, you seem to have a
more rigorous elaboration of a theoreetical base for the concept, easily at
hand, as you illustrate. And Argyris places it in some kind of empirical
framework, as I see it, for instance in "Knowledge for action". But still,
it's value might very well be heuristic rather than analytical.

The question I ask myself, with my much lesser aquaintance with PCP, is
whether there are other concepts within this tradition that would cover
precisely what you described in your explanation of double-loop learning. If
so, the concept seems superfluous in this tradition, if not, an
investigation might be worth the try.=20

One related concept is Watslawicks second order change, which I understand
as very clearly formulated in a systems theory language. As I understand the
ideas of second order change and double loop change as almost identical.
Maybe there are more concept, within PCP tradition that is similar. But as
for constructive alternativism, I still don't see the connection clearly.

I agree with you about the poor status of much of management litterature.
However, I am not sure that all management research has the same purpose or
aim in its research, and therefore "rigour" might have more than one meaning
here. This is of course not an excuse for sloppy research, but an
observation that for instance, action research and traditional academic
research have not identical research criteria, and therefore the litterature
and the concepts michgt be different.=20

For instance, I understand Argyris as very heavily action research oriented,
and that the heuristic value, or the way a concept might support a process,
might be as important as its analytical power in it self, but for other
reasons and in its right context. Though I am not sure if Argyris would
agree on this..........

I welcome more discussion on this issue. My own thoughts would not suffer
from some more clarity.......


Magnus Larsson
Department of applied psychology Adress: Exercisgatan 5
Lund University 211 49 Malm=F6
Sweden Sweden