n Journal of Public Administration - Developing a learning public organization and improving the productivity of public human resources

Volume 40, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



The objective of this paper is to clarify the nature of a learning organization and to explain how the South African Public Service can become a learning organization. The paper identifies forces contributing to increased pressures on the Public Service to become a learning organization. With globalisation becoming a reality, the people's [customer] demands for quality goods and services have led the Public Service to recognize the need to adopt a new paradigm of learning. The paper argues that learning can be a source of competitive advantage to the degree that it motivates and enables the Public Service as an organization and officials to be more productive and effective in providing quality service in an ever-changing environment. The paper is an attempt to integrate a number of different perspectives on the learning organization, with a focus towards practice and application in the public sector. The paper begins by giving a definition and background to provide a sense of how the concept of a learning organization developed. Next the focus is on two types of learning, namely: action learning and strategic learning. The paper concludes that public organizations need to engage in scientific market research, staff development, and performance management to acquire knowledge and skills through continuous learning, not only for their career paths, but also for organizational success and service delivery improvements.

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