Contemporary Approaches of Learning Organization in the Asia Pacific Region


Edited by

Professor Robert McClelland, Deputy Dean School of Business and Management, RMIT University, Vietnam

Seng Kiat Kok, Program Manager HR and Entrepreneurship, RMIT University, Vietnam

Anh-Duc Hoang, Director, EdLab Asia Educational Research and Development Centre, Vietnam

What differing dynamics exist to the learning organization and organizational learning in the Asian Pacific context? What best practice and learning could be shared?

This special issue intends to gather worldwide scholars’ perspectives to illuminate the different challenges, opportunities in the Asia Pacific region, as well as the current subject thought leadership about the Asia Pacific region. It seeks to extend existing knowledge while simultaneously bringing to the fore, key areas for development and enhancement as well as signpost analytical and critical thoughts on the learning organization/organizational learning (Örtenblad, 2002a). It invites theoretically and empirically positioned papers to delve deeper into the notion and relevance of the learning organization/organizational learning and welcomes these views from across a diverse context and geography. Cross-discipline and contemporary studies from different industry and sector perspectives would also have the potential to enrichen understanding in a highly diverse region. There is much opportunity for this special issue to create impact not only in the Asia Pacific region but the wider sharing of best practice internationally. We hereby invite scholarly papers in these areas to share their research and thoughts to benefit the academic and professional community.


According to Snell and Hong (2012), it is impossible to clarify cultures and institutional contexts of Asian countries. This research theme is triggered by the idea that Asian Pacific is a region with unprecedented possibilities, which are caused by the interconnections between its countries and external economics (Hong et al., 2017). For instance, despite the withdrawal of the United States of America from TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) in Jan 2017, the countries within the region still can establish the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) in Mar 2018, like a Phoenix from the ashes (Qian, 2020). However, besides that macro engagement at diplomatic levels, is there any other common patterns of beliefs or behaviors at organizational level across the regions?

The differences between western and eastern countries have been risen since very early. Hofstede (1994) described Asian countries as high power distance, high masculinity, and long-term orientation. However, such findings might no longer fit the current context, in which, at the same time, each and every country across the globe is acting like a subject and an object of globalization. Hofstede (2007) also raised a concern that "Asia is not at all a homogeneous entity but also as heterogeneous as what is called the Western". Thus, what is specific for learning organizations organizational learning in the Asia Pacific? Are there any common patterns that fit most Asia Pacific countries? In this special issue, we aim to extend our knowledge about contemporary approaches of the learning organization/organizational learning in the Asia Pacific. We are yearning to scrutinize the Asia Pacific as a large group, as well as many sub-groups with collective values, cultures, and practices.

Regarding the complexity and fast growth of businesses within the region, developing sustainable learning organizations is a deniable demand. However, Velazquez et al. (2011) stated that prior literature about learning organization/organizational learning and sustainable development was not proper to form a clear direction of how a company can transform into a learning organization. Notwithstanding, by gathering up pieces of empirical experiences around the world, scholars will shed light on enterprises' operational culture, procedures, and routine toward sustainable organizational learning. Examined the role of system-level leaders in the public sector across the Asia Pacific over their tasks of developing people and organizations, Hallinger (1998) stated that culture change is necessary to foster organizational learning, which enhances individuals and organizations' learning journeys.

Gradually, we see that more literature presents the role of developing learning organizations as a praxis towards organizational innovation in the Asia Pacific. To be dated, in the Web of Science database, there are only 123 English articles about learning organization/organizational learning in the Asia Pacific (Hoang et al., 2021). Before 2014, most of those studies focused on reporting empirical cases or validating metrics related to a learning organization. For example, Snell (2002) presented a qualitative study about a case in Hong Kong and underlined the importance of organizational openness and creativity through top-down interactions, as well as the irreplaceable effects of psychological contracts. Liao et al. (2008) established the constructs of knowledge inertia and examined the relationships between knowledge inertia, organizational learning, and organizational innovation regarding the research objects of both state-run and private enterprises in China. Lee et al. (2012) investigated the structural relationship between Total Quality Management practices and Learning Organization in Malaysia's manufacturing industry. Thereafter, from 2014 to 2018, the research focus has been shifted into the mediating roles of absorptive capacity (Wu and Voss, 2015) and organizational capabilities (Song et al., 2018). In addition to the regular academic approaches, there was also action research about social exchange and project management toward building organizational knowledge (Sidani and Reese, 2018). Since 2018, academics who study learning organization/organizational learning in the Asia Pacific expressed their interest in novel issues such as organizational diversity (Hoe, 2019), besides the well-known interesting topic of organizational competitive advantages (Bui, 2019).

We call for papers that shed light on various theoretical and empirical aspects of learning organization and organizational learning in the Asia Pacific to examine the patterns of knowledge sharing, collaboration, and innovation. Authors can investigate around three main questions that guide this special issue. First, could it be possible to portrait a common structure of organizational values, cultures, and practices toward learning organization across the region? Second, regarding the four aspects of a true learning organization (Örtenblad, 2004): learning at work; organizational learning; developing a learning climate; and creating learning structures, is it possible to envision the explicit and tacit challenges which influence organizational learning and the learning organization across the Asia Pacific? Third, what are the potential areas of studies we should focus on to elevate our know-how and practices of the learning organization/organizational learning under the circumstance of a rapidly changing world? Besides, regarding the typological idea of Learning Organization (Örtenblad, 2002b), we welcome literature reviews of “what we know so far” about: (i) Learning organization in Asia Pacific region; (ii) Organizational Learning in Asia Pacific region; and (iii) Learning Organization/Organizational Learning studies conducted by scholars located in the Asia Pacific region. Scholarly works included in such reviews can be in English or other languages.

This special issue welcomes papers dedicated to challenging and enhancing our knowledge of the learning organization and organizational learning, focusing on the Asia Pacific region. We invite papers with the following possible areas of interests:

  • Examining the Asian Pacific dynamics of the learning organization and organizational learning across different sectors and disciplines.
  • Examining what contemporary trends are in use, developed or emergent from the region, which has enormous potential for the learning organization and organizational learning
  • Do regional differences and approaches to the learning organization and organizational learning exist? And what, if any, are their impacts?
  • Do unique theoretical perspectives and frameworks exist with considering a localized regional dynamic, agenda or culture? 
  • Does the Asia Pacific region provide opportunities for new tools, frameworks and knowledge to become professionalized or applied in real-world practice?
  • Are there comparative differences in the learning organization and organizational learning as a product of being in the Asia Pacific region? Are there similarities in what we already know and how we can build from here? 

Inclusion criteria

Papers for this special issue should seek to challenge and/or advance understanding of the learning organization/organizational learning through theoretical or empirical manuscripts that focus upon the Asia Pacific context. Papers from different and cross-subject disciplines and varying industries/sectors are also welcome. Papers from all methodological approaches are welcome as long as their positioning and contributions are clearly identified, with limitations considered. It is envisioned that the research implications (in theory and/or practice) should be clearly communicated.

Manuscripts must live up to the criteria in the editorial by Editor-in-Chief, Professor Anders Örtenblad’s ‘Making your manuscript relevant for the TLO’:

Finally, all manuscripts must follow the TLO author guidelines: .

Submissions Information

Submissions open: 23rd November 2021

Submissions deadline: 15th March 2022

Guest Editors

Robert McClelland | [email protected]

Seng Kiat Kok | [email protected]

Anh-Duc Hoang | [email protected]

Any question regarding this special issue can be sent to the email address of any Guest Editor as listed above.


Bui, T.M.H. (2019), "On definitions of the learning organization: toward a new definition of learning organization", Örtenblad, A. (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Learning Organization, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, pp.137-147.

Hallinger, P. (1998), "Increasing the organization’s IQ: public sector leadership in Southeast Asia", The Learning Organization, Vol. 5 No. 4, pp.176-183.

Hoang, A.D., Kok, S. and Maheshwari, G. (2021), "Bibliography of studies on learning organization in Asia Pacific", working paper, School of Business and Management, RMIT University, Hanoi, VN, 19 April.

Hoe, S.L. (2019), "The topicality of the learning organization: is the concept still relevant today?", Örtenblad, A. (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Learning Organization, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, pp.18-32.

Hofstede, G. (1994), "The business of international business is culture", International Business Review, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp.1-14.

Hofstede, G. (2007), "Asian management in the 21st century", Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp.411-420.

Hong, J., Snell, R. and Rowley, C. (2017), Organizational Learning in Asia: Issues and Challenges, Elsevier, Amsterdam, NL.

Lee, V.H., Ooi, K.B., Sohal, A.S. and Chong, A.Y.L. (2012), "Structural relationship between TQM practices and learning organisation in Malaysia’s manufacturing industry", Production Planning & Control, Vol. 23 No. 10-11, pp.885-902.

Liao, S., Fei, W.-C. and Liu, C.-T. (2008), "Relationships between knowledge inertia, organizational learning and organization innovation", Technovation, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp.183-195.

Örtenblad, A. (2002a), “Organizational learning: a radical perspective”, International Journal of Management Reviews, Vol 4. No 1, pp.71-85.

Örtenblad, A. (2002b), "A typology of the idea of learning organization", Management Learning, Vol 33. No. 2, pp.213-230.

Örtenblad, A. (2004), "The learning organization: towards an integrated model", The Learning Organization, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp.129-144.

Qian, X. (2020), "Phoenix from the ashes: CPTPP meaning for Asia Pacific (and global) investment", Asian Journal of WTO and International Health Law and Policy, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp.567-652.

Sidani, Y. and Reese, S. (2018), "A journey of collaborative learning organization research", The Learning Organization, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp.199-209.

Snell, R.S. (2002), "The learning organization, sensegiving and psychological contracts: a Hong Kong case", Organization Studies, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp.549-569.

Snell, R.S. and Hong, J. (2012), "Organizational learning in Asia", Easterby-Smith, M. and Lyles, M.A. (Ed.s), Handbook of Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New Jersey, US, pp.635-658. 10.1002/9781119207245

Song, J.H., Chai, D.S., Kim, J. and Bae, S.H. (2018), "Job performance in the learning organization: the mediating impacts of self-efficacy and work engagement", Performance Improvement Quarterly, Vol. 30 No. 4, pp.249-271.

Velazquez, L.E., Esquer, J., Munguía, N.E. and Moure‐Eraso, R. (2011), "Sustainable learning organizations", The Learning Organization, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp.36-44.

Wu, A. and Voss, H. (2015), "When does absorptive capacity matter for international performance of firms? Evidence from China", International Business Review, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp.344-351.