This week’s required reading was about Chris Aygris’ theories of action, double loop learning and organizational learning.
Aygris and Schon suggests that there are two theories of action which are espoused theory and theory-in-use.
Espoused theory: “The words we use to convey what we do or what we would like others to think we do.”
“We might explain our sudden rush out of the office to
others, or even to ourselves at some level, by saying
that a ‘crisis’ had arisen with one of‘our’ clients.”
Theories-in-use: “The theory that actually governs his actions.”
“The theory-in-use might be quite different.We may have
become bored and tired by the paper work or meeting and
felt that a quick trip out to an apparently difficult
situation would bring welcome relief.”
Then there’s single and double-loop learning. Single loop learning involves looking for a different strategy when the current approach is unable to achieve the goal. The new strategy must work within the confines of the governing variables. The current goals, objectives, values and beliefs are unquestioned and will remain unchanged. To put it simply, strategy changes, everything else, no.
Double-loop learning, however, allows the governing variables to come under criticism and to be changed if the need arises. This results in a change in the way strategies are made, so in other words, the conceptual framework changes.
Finally, there’s Model I and Model II, which inhibit and enhances double-loop learning, respectively.
From what I understand, Model I has an autocratic style of leadership because decisions are more likely to be made objectively and are imposed upon others. Its characteristics include showing weaknesses like emotion, incompetence, ineptitude to be frowned upon which in turn creates a need to suppress negative feelings.There is a higher chance for resistance against changing goals to “win” in a sense that the goal is expected to be made a success and if not, it is seen as a “loss”.
Model II, on the other hand, has a more participative style of leadership because control is shared and opinions and inquiries are encouraged. Theories are tried and tested and information circulates within the organisation easily.
It’s interesting to see that Model I seems to reject innovation whereas Model II enhances it because it allows more creativity due to open communication and more freedom of choice.