Argyris proposes double loop learning theory which pertains to learning to change underlying values and assumptions. The focus of the theory is on solving problems that are complex and ill-structured and which change as problem-solving advances. This perspective examines reality from the point of view of human beings as actors. Typically, interaction with others is necessary to identify the conflict. There are four basic steps in the action theory learning process: 1 discovery of espoused and theory-in-use, 2 invention of new meanings, 3 production of new actions, and 4 generalization of results. Double loop learning involves applying each of these steps to itself.
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Chris Argyris has made a significant contribution to the development of our appreciation of organizational learning, and, almost in passing, deepened our understanding of experiential learning. Army eventually becoming a Second Lieutenant Elkjaer He graduated with a degree in Psychology Whyte in As well as making a significant contribution to the literature Chris Argyris was known as a dedicated and committed teacher. Argyris was also a director of the Monitor Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
This research resulted in the books Personality and Organization and Integrating the Individual and the Organization He then shifted his focus to organizational change, in particular exploring the behaviour of senior executives in organizations Interpersonal Competence and Organizational Effectiveness , ; Organization and Innovation , From there he moved onto a particularly fruitful inquiry into the role of the social scientist as both researcher and actor Intervention Theory and Method , ; Inner Contradictions of Rigorous Research , and Action Science , — with Robert Putnam and Diana McLain Smith.
He has also developed this thinking in Overcoming Organizational Defenses , Knowledge for Action As well as writing and researching, Chris Argyris has been an influential teacher. This is how Peter Senge talks about his own experience of Argyris as a teacher.
As the afternoon moved on, all of us were led to see sometimes for he first time in our lives subtle patterns of reasoning which underlay our behaviour; and how those patterns continually got us into trouble.
I had never had such a dramatic demonstration of own mental models in action… But even more interesting, it became clear that, with proper training, I could become much more aware of my mental models and how they operated.
This was exciting. The ability, demonstrated here, to engage with others, to make links with the general and the particular, and to explore basic orientations and values is just what Argyris talks about when exploring the sorts of behaviours and beliefs that are necessary if organizations are to learn and develop. This involves the way they plan, implement and review their actions.
What is more, fewer people are aware of the maps or theories they do use Argyris, One way of making sense of this is to say that there is split between theory and action. The notion of a theory of action can be seen as growing out of earlier research by Chris Argyris into the relationships between individuals and organizations Argyris , , The distinction made between the two contrasting theories of action is between those theories that are implicit in what we do as practitioners and managers, and those on which we call to speak of our actions to others.
The former can be described as theories-in-use. They govern actual behaviour and tend to be tacit structures. The words we use to convey what we, do or what we would like others to think we do, can then be called espoused theory.
When someone is asked how he would behave under certain circumstances, the answer he usually gives is his espoused theory of action for that situation. This is the theory of action to which he gives allegiance, and which, upon request, he communicates to others.
However, the theory that actually governs his actions is this theory-in-use. Making this distinction allows us to ask questions about the extent to which behaviour fits espoused theory; and whether inner feelings become expressed in actions. In other words, is there congruence between the two? Argyris makes the case that effectiveness results from developing congruence between theory-in-use and espoused theory. For example, in explaining our actions to a colleague we may call upon some convenient piece of theory.
The theory-in-use might be quite different. We may have become bored and tired by the paper work or meeting and felt that a quick trip out to an apparently difficult situation would bring welcome relief. This gulf is no bad thing.
If it gets too wide then there is clearly a difficulty. But provided the two remain connected then the gap creates a dynamic for reflection and for dialogue. To fully appreciate theory-in-use we require a model of the processes involved.
Governing variables: those dimensions that people are trying to keep within acceptable limits. Any action is likely to impact upon a number of such variables — thus any situation can trigger a trade-off among governing variables. Action strategies: the moves and plans used by people to keep their governing values within the acceptable range. Consequences: what happens as a result of an action. These can be both intended — those actor believe will result — and unintended.
Anderson Where the consequences of the strategy used are what the person wanted, then the theory-in-use is confirmed. This is because there is a match between intention and outcome. There may be a mismatch between intention and outcome. In other words, the consequences may be unintended. Where something goes wrong, it is suggested, an initial port of call for many people is to look for another strategy that will address and work within the governing variables. In other words, given or chosen goals, values, plans and rules are operationalized rather than questioned.
An alternative response is to question to governing variables themselves, to subject them to critical scrutiny. This they describe as double-loop learning. Such learning may then lead to an alteration in the governing variables and, thus, a shift in the way in which strategies and consequences are framed. Thus, when they came to explore the nature of organizational learning.
When the error detected and corrected permits the organization to carry on its present policies or achieve its presents objectives, then that error-and-correction process is single-loop learning. Single-loop learning is like a thermostat that learns when it is too hot or too cold and turns the heat on or off.
The thermostat can perform this task because it can receive information the temperature of the room and take corrective action. Single-loop learning seems to be present when goals, values, frameworks and, to a significant extent, strategies are taken for granted.
In many respects the distinction at work here is the one used by Aristotle , when exploringtechnical andpractical thought. The former involves following routines and some sort of preset plan — and is both less risky for the individual and the organization, and affords greater control.
The latter is more creative and reflexive, and involves consideration notions of the good. Reflection here is more fundamental: the basic assumptions behind ideas or policies are confronted… hypotheses are publicly tested… processes are disconfirmable not self-seeking Argyris He argues that double-loop learning is necessary if practitioners and organizations are to make informed decisions in rapidly changing and often uncertain contexts Argyris ; ; As Edmondson and Moingeon put it:.
The underlying theory, supported by years of empirical research, is that the reasoning processes employed by individuals in organizations inhibit the exchange of relevant information in ways that make double-loop learning difficult — and all but impossible in situations in which much is at stake. This creates a dilemma as these are the very organizational situations in which double-loop learning is most needed.
The belief is that all people utilize a common theory-in-use in problematic situations. This they describe as Model I — and it can be said to inhibit double-loop learning. Model II is where the governing values associated with theories-in-use enhance double-loop learning. Argyris has claimed that just about all the participants in his studies operated from theories-in-use or values consistent with Model I Argyris et al. The theories-in-use are shaped by an implicit disposition to winning and to avoid embarrassment.
The primary action strategy looks to the unilateral control of the environment and task plus the unilateral protection of self and others. As such Model I leads to often deeply entrenched defensive routines Argyris ; — and these can operate at individual, group and organizational levels. Exposing actions, thoughts and feelings can make people vulnerable to the reaction of others. However, the assertion that Model I is predominantly defensive has a further consequence:.
Acting defensively can be viewed as moving away from something, usually some truth about ourselves. If our actions are driven by moving away from something then our actions are controlled and defined by whatever it is we are moving away from, not by us and what we would like to be moving towards.
Therefore our potential for growth and learning is seriously impaired. If my behaviour is driven by my not wanting to be seen as incompetent, this may lead me to hide things from myself and others, in order to avoid feelings of incompetence. For example, if my behaviour is driven by wanting to be competent, honest evaluation of my behaviour by myself and others would be welcome and useful. It is only by interrogating and changing the governing values, the argument goes, is it possible to produce new action strategies that can address changing circumstances.
Chris Argyris looks to move people from a Model I to a Model II orientation and practice — one that fosters double-loop learning. He suggests that most people, when asked, will espouse Model II. In addition, we need to note that the vast bulk of research around the models has been undertaken by Argyris or his associates. Advocating courses of action which discourage inquiry e. The significant features of Model II include the ability to call upon good quality data and to make inferences.
It looks to include the views and experiences of participants rather than seeking to impose a view upon the situation. Theories should be made explicit and tested, positions should be reasoned and open to exploration by others. In other words, Model II can be seen as dialogical — and more likely to be found in settings and organizations that look to shared leadership.
It looks to:. While they are not being asked to relinquish control altogether, they do need to share that control. The picture is always incomplete — and people, thus, are continually working to add pieces and to get a view of the whole. They need to know their place in the organization, it is argued. An organization is like an organism each of whose cells contains a particular, partial, changing image if itself in relation to the whole.
Organization is an artifact of individual ways of representing organization. Hence, our inquiry into organizational learning must concern itself not with static entities called organizations, but with an active process of organizing which is, at root, a cognitive enterprise.
Individual members are continually engaged in attempting to know the organization, and to know themselves in the context of the organization. At the same time, their continuing efforts to know and to test their knowledge represent the object of their inquiry. Organizing is reflexive inquiry….
There must be public representations of organizational theory-in-use to which individuals can refer.
Single and double loop learning
Double-loop learning entails the modification of goals or decision-making rules in the light of experience. The first loop uses the goals or decision-making rules, the second loop enables their modification, hence "double-loop". Double-loop learning recognises that the way a problem is defined and solved can be a source of the problem. Double-loop learning is contrasted with "single-loop learning": the repeated attempt at the same problem, with no variation of method and without ever questioning the goal. Chris Argyris described the distinction between single-loop and double-loop learning using the following analogy:. Double-loop learning is used when it is necessary to change the mental model on which a decision depends.
Double Loop Learning (C. Argyris)
Chris Argyris has made a significant contribution to the development of our appreciation of organizational learning, and, almost in passing, deepened our understanding of experiential learning. Army eventually becoming a Second Lieutenant Elkjaer He graduated with a degree in Psychology Whyte in
Double Loop Learning: Download New Skills and Information into Your Brain
On this blog I am going to share some information about Single and Double-loop Learning. Sooner or later, you should be able to find answers to these questions from this blog:. And i n addition to these, hopefully some good case-examples, pictures, videos and etc. Single-loop learning illustrated in figure 1 below is one kind of organizational learning process. In single-loop learning, people, organizations or groups modify their actions according to the difference between expected and reached outcomes.