Skip to main content
Programmed, autonomous-formal and spontaneous organizational learning
British Journal of Management
  • C. K. PAK, Open University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • Robin Stanley SNELL, Lingnan University, Hong Kong
Document Type
Journal article
Publication Date

Organizational learning (OL) has been represented either as the systematic governance of collective expertise or as a relatively anarchic process of implicit transaction within and across fluid, dispersed communities of practice. Qualitative case-study research open to both perspectives was conducted in a not-for-profit service organization, a franchisee company and a vertically integrated company, all based in Hong Kong. Two forms of OL as systematic governance were found: 'programmed' OL (POL) and 'autonomous-formal' OL (AFOL), respectively. The relative emphasis on POL and AFOL appeared to vary from organization to organization, and to be influenced by management philosophy and by institutional frameworks such as professionalization and franchisee status. A 'spontaneous' and dispersed form of implicitly transacted OL (SOL) was also found. SOL appeared to reflect natural exuberance but was attenuated when colleagues regarded knowledge as a commodity. There appeared to be synergy between AFOL and SOL.

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2003 British Academy of Management

Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Full-text Version
Publisher’s Version
Citation Information
Pak, C. K., & Snell, R. S. (2003). Programmed, autonomous-formal and spontaneous organizational learning. British Journal of Management, 14(3), 275-288. doi: 10.1111/1467-8551.00379