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Rethinking organizational learning using theory U: an ontological approach to strategic leadership.

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This research study embarked on an in-depth inquiry into the strategic thinking of organizations. The study endeavoured on understanding the different ways in which organizations change. This understanding brought to the fore two fundamental contributors that influenced organizational learning. The way organizations think affect the way they strategize. The ever more challenging and rapidly evolving economic environment in South Africa has put pressure on organizations to look for ingenious ways to survive .The current discourses has reified organizations, regarding them as mechanistic organisms with agency of their own. It is against this backdrop that the research adopted the “Theory U” framework. This theory considered the future as it emerged to address the organizational tussles and challenges during strategic planning and organizational learning .Theory U provided an analytical framework for individuals within organizations. It can be applied as part of a strategic planning process and it forces organizations to learn by appraising both their internal and external situations from an emerged future perspective. This would result in overall competitive advantages. Strategic leaders in organizations are struggling to formulate effective strategies that match the ever-changing business environment. This has affected their ability to execute their duties effectively, which subsequently affected organizational performance. Organizations are struggling to learn and analyse their current macro-environments. The research explored the available strategic thinking methods as revealed in the foremost discourse on organizations. Organizational learning received attention, using an ontological perspective .The phenomenon is studied from a positivist pragmatic perspective, which holds that an investigator can acquire various forms of knowledge and from a theoretical perspective. The research population consisted of organizations in the South African context and the inquiry focused on their micro- and macro-contexts. The questions were asked from a strategic leadership. The research instrument views organizations as systems, organisms, brains, cultures, psychic prisons, and transformers. Most organizations already show the components and attributes of a learning organization. The research aimed to examine the feasibility of adopting and implementing the organization learning approach to achieve organizational change and transformation.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.