Critical Realism and Organizational Learning

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
202 Downloads (Pure)


This study investigates the implications of applying critical realism to the study of organizational learning. It considers critical realism as an alternative theoretical science foundation to the domains of empirical realism and social constructivism that characterize most of the field of organizational learning.

This study adopts the approach of a philosophical/conceptual discussion.

This study finds that the critical realist approach makes it possible for organizational learning researchers to apply a prescriptive change agenda. It requires researchers to study the context in which organizational learning occurs. These two features enable the researcher to propose what the world must be like for organizational learning to occur. Hence, a critical realist foundation moves organizational learning theory a step closer to its theoretical sibling, the learning organization.

This study reveals the potential in applying critical realism to the study of organizational learning and identifies its related strengths.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLearning Organization
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)32-45
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2020


  • Critical realism
  • Critical realist
  • Exploration and exploitation
  • Organizational learning
  • Theory of science

Cite this