Fighting for Knowledge: Developing Learning Systems in the Australian Army

Kathleen O'Toole, Steven Talbot

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Citations (Scopus)


    This article reports on an investigation that contributes to the understanding of social and organizational learning in the military. Data were collected through a series of focus groups with over 150 Army personnel in the Australian Army. Analysis revealed that perceived learning opportunities were shaped, enabled, and constrained by a variety of social, cultural, structural, and process-related imperatives. This was manifested through two learning systems: (1) a formal learning system directly managed by the organization and (2) an informal system that was fostered through strong social networks and driven by the organizational culture. From this investigation, we posit a social theory of learning, which encompasses sharing knowledge and experience through social interaction. This article concludes by arguing that the learning systems approach taken in this article is a useful and practical method of evaluating the organizational learning mechanisms in a military organization.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)42-67
    Number of pages26
    JournalArmed Forces and Society
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


    • Learning Organizations
    • learning systems
    • organizational learning
    • social networks


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