Single and Double Loop Learning: Attitudes and Behaviour

Attitudes Definition: An attitude is a way of thinking or feeling about something, a certain state of mind at the time.

Behaviours Definition: Behaviour is defined as the way one acts towards themselves and others around them. To link the two we could say that due to the attitude a person has towards spiders, he/she may behave differently.

Single and Double Loop Learning Definition: This theory was made to try and understand how people learn within organisations.

  • Single-loop learning is the ability to use feedback to make continuous adjustments and adaptations, to maintain performance at the standard which the organisation is looking for.
  • Double-loop learning is the ability to challenge and redefine the assumptions underlying performance standards and to improve performance.

Single Loop learning is a much shorter process than Double Loop, as the continuous improvement only takes a bit out of the day for an employee. It is the idea that by continuously improving, costs will come down, profits will go up and the ability to compete will be easier. Double Loop learning tries to take everything and change it, it is the type of company which wants to innovate instead of steadily change to meet demands.

We can use the example of Nokia and Apple here, Nokia were in the Single Loop learning where they were trying to keep the same phone whilst reducing costs so they could sell to different markets, who didn’t have as much money, such as Africa, and although it worked somewhat, because they didn’t innovate they were left behind in their main markets of Europe and America.

Apple on the other hand set out to innovate, make the market come to them, instead of catering for the market. They challenged their beliefs and it worked, being one of the biggest companies in the world, whilst their old competitor Nokia has fallen rapidly.

Take a look at the diagram below to get a better understanding;

Single and Double Loop Learning

If you can’t see the diagram, or need some written information to copy to your notes the process is this;

(Goals) -> Actions -> Outcomes -> Evaluate Outcomes (Rethink Thoughts Behind Goals) -> Rethink Actions -> Actions

Argyris and Schon (1978)

Key Learning Points?

  1. What is the Definition of Attitudes?
  2. What is the Definition of Behaviours?
  3. What are the main points to the Single Loop Learning Theory?
  4. What are the main points to the Double Loop Learning Theory?