Urban Institute: Cultivating an Organizational Learning Culture

Learning Culture    


How might we promote a culture of continuous learning and knowledge sharing, given we’re incentivized to focus on other business and implementation priorities?


Institute cultural practices to mainstream learning


A key challenge for many organizations is finding a way to promote a culture of continuous learning while also focusing on business and implementation priorities.

“An organization’s culture often explains why certain systems, practices, and behaviors do or do not occur (Trice and Beyer 1993). Some organizational cultures are structured and controlled, governing employee behavior through rules and standard operating procedures. Other cultures are characterized by creativity and individuality, encouraging high levels of risk taking.”

Organizations that foster a learning culture have staff who are interested in learning and apply what they have learned, as part of a cycle of continuous improvement. However, often in response to external pressures such as donor or investor requirements, social impact organizations tend to direct their attention and resources towards compliance and accountability.

In this resource, the Urban Institute outlines how organizations in the social impact sector can move away from a compliance culture, by defining a learning culture and implementing strategies to cultivate it.

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