"Growing Double and Deutero loop learners: An analysis of the British Army's efforts to inculcate a learning culture amongst junior officers".

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Politics


A learning culture should empower individuals to explore ideas and knowledge, create an environment where mistakes are permitted and learned from and encourage the time/space for effective reflection. Effective learners within an organisation need to not only learn to 'do things better' (single loop) and 'do better things' (double loop), but learn why to do so is key (deutero loop). A common view, both in literature and practitioner management, is that hierarchical/bureaucratic organisational structures actually discourage the establishment of an effective learning culture and so the development of effective learners within the organisation, for reasons such as a lack of freedom, space and trust. However, there appears to be relatively little evidence to support such an assertion, and it warrants further examination.
Using British Army as a case study, this project aims to research to what extent the Defence Organisational Learning Strategy (DOLS) policy aim of implementing a "routine learning culture" by 2020 in the British Army has been effective. It will investigate organisational learning culture within a hierarchical and often bureaucratic structure; examine and identify any poor and best practice in implementing and introducing a learning culture within such organisations, and potentially further wider academic understanding of top down imposed cultural changes and their implementation and acceptance at the bottom of such structures. In addition, this project may reflexively assist the Army in identifying and developing its own learning practice and potentially enable more effective evaluation of the top down policy initiatives being implemented, thus adding value to the organisation itself.
I am a serving Army Major on the periphery of the significant changes that the Army is attempting to make in order to institutionalise organisational learning, and so my research process will be in line with Action Research principles. The study will employ a grounded theory mixed methods approach using literature and interview data to generate theoretical constructs and develop research questions which will then be tested with survey and further interview data collection.
This study is a collaborative project working with the British Army's Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Resolution (CHACR) and Exeter University. It will contribute towards Dr Sergio Catignani (Exeter University's Strategic Studies Institute)'s research into organisational learning in the British Army, and is funded under the Politics Pathway. No overseas fieldwork or language study is required.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000630/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
1606705 Studentship ES/P000630/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2024 Leanne Fuller