From continuous improvement to organisational learning: developmental theory

Peter Murray, Ross Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


As a learning theory, the continuous improvement (CI) discourse has benefited countless manufacturing enterprises to improve and adapt their methods of production. As one of the pillars of total quality management, it has generally included a range of dynamic concepts from high involvement teamwork and production enablers, to other social and technical capabilities such as innovation techniques. Such methodologies have been promoted in the literature as potential manifestos that can transform existing capabilities from simple representations of capability, to dynamically integrated ones (often labelled “full CI capacity”). The latter term in particular deserves more attention in the literature. Since CI techniques cannot be separated from organisational learning methodologies, it follows that CI methods should underpin holistic learning. This paper explores whether CI methodologies have advanced far enough to be considered as integrated and holistic in their own right. If not, it follows that new theories, challenges and discourses should be considered for exploration in the CI literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-282
Number of pages11
JournalThe Learning Organization
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • continuous improvement
  • learning cycles


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