a student's perspective LO7042

Jacqueline Mullen (J.Mullen@agora.stm.it)
Mon, 29 Apr 1996 14:34:35 GMT

Responding to LO6954

"corporate america is a consumer looking for new products
all the time. LO is a hot product now, but if the LO practioners out
there can't deliver, and corporate america can't profit from it, LO will
soon fade and other things will replace it... who knows what will replace
LO, but something will. LO practioners should not get carried away and
think that we have a marriage lisence with corporate america. we are
merely having an affair with corporate america. corporate america is
already married, to its profit."

Yup. This is, I trust, one of the most important areas where an
international collaboration of those interested in promoting the Learning
Organization becomes most fruitful. The key word is: Economics. I don't
think the rest of the world has any idea just how fundamentally
ethnocentric the US is in terms of economics. (Or, alas, perhaps they
do.) The US folk-economics tradition perceives external labor market
flexibility as "the way things work." It presumes that the world is a
sort of upwardly progressing economic mono-culture, where US multi's
respresent the most advanced stage in evolution. "Come out shooting"
hire-fire policies and globally chasing the lowest payable employee is the
key to success. The result is socially very aggressive, very unsettling,
but it also tends to keep unemployment down (i.e. renders only the
individual responsible for job creation) and profits up. (For now, at
least) The US folk-economics vision of social systems rests, for the most
part, on par with superstition. Embarassingly simplistic. Europe, which
has greater internal labor market flexibilty, also engages in greater
intercultural economic analysis. (I'm not implying cause and effect,
however.) It may not be the most enlightened argument all the time, but at
least I cringe less when someone opens his or her mouth. (I ranted on US
economics-democracy connection in LO2763, for the foolhardy)

As long as economics remains a sacred cow in the US, there will be
a huge risk of fly-by-night LO dabblings. However, there are stronger US
voices beginning to emerge, challenging the economic orthodoxy. So if LO
promoters prove to be astute learners, in this era of stratigic alliances,
this, too, could be added to a shared vision. (Maybe someone could also
promote LFM? He or she could ask: does your financial market have a
learning disability?)

Harvard's Juliet Schor in "The Overworked American" was proposing
a few solutions. Thought provoking reading.

"--my personnal belief is that organizations can not be compared to
communities. organizations are tied to earnings, communities are tied to
living. these are two different things."

I agree. It would be interesting to have an intercultural melee
on this. Most places have a worker/management conflict to heal, but the
US, with the legacy of a highly flexible, highly mobile, immigrant
workforce and a "wild west" mythology, is the only place I can think of
that has so drastically divorced itself from a sense of place, a sense
contunity with a local community and/or government, that it can consider
itself as an independent abstraction, answering to no one. I, too, am
wary of an "organization as community" solution.


Jackie Mullen J.Mullen@agora.stm.it

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>