We're too much in 'to do' mode: action research into supporting international NGOs to learn

We're too much in 'to do' mode: action research into supporting international NGOs to learn

Organisational learning processes

Developing organisational learning capacity does not just happen: it requires conscious effort. This paper explores the organisational learning processes of development NGOs. Focusing on the Netherlands, it investigates how these organisations think and talk about learning, how they learn in practice, and how action research can help support organisational learning.

The author finds that:

  • most organisations do not appear to have a clear concept of what learning is, or an explicit organisational learning strategy
  • the way international development organisations think and talk about learning influences the way in which they shape their organisational learning
  • promoting organisational learning is something that remains a vague overall goal
  • joint reflection on experiences is not common practice, it is mostly informal and project-related.

Recommendations for researchers include:

  • facilitate a learning process with all involved in the research
  • reserve room for stories (case studies) alongside larger-scale (quantitative?) research
  • make actions and decisions transparent and discuss choices conscientiously, so that they provide insight to others.