An Adaptive Learning Pathway for Systemic Leadership

  • Catherine HobbsEmail author


Adaptive social learning. This short chapter brings everything together to present a continuous Adaptive Learning Pathway for Systemic Leadership entailing a repeated sequence of questioning. Within the sequence of questions, jumping to ‘how?’ tends to be the norm, without first considering the other more fundamental questions. The question ‘how?’ in effect needs to be rooted by all the other questions. This approach helps people to reflect critically about knowledge and values and to plan adaptively. All five operational principles are now put together to create the currents of transformation, representing different facets demanded by a constant form of dynamic adaptation. This could help create a movement of adaptive social learning which has been described as the ‘fourth human threshold’ of human-social evolution (Dunn in Economic and Social Development: A Process of Social Learning. The John Hopkins Press, Baltimore and London, 1971).


Transformation Social learning 


  1. Ackermann, F. (2012). Problem Structuring Methods ‘in the Dock’: Arguing the Case for Soft OR. European Journal of Operational Research, 219(3), 652–658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andrews, M., Pritchett, L., & Woolcock, M. (2017). Building State Capability: Evidence, Analysis, Action. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Argyris, C., & Schon, D. (1978). Organizational Learning: A Theory of Action Perspective. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  4. Dunn, E. S. (1971). Economic and Social Development: A Process of Social Learning. Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins Press.Google Scholar
  5. Engeström, Y., & Sannino, A. (2010). Studies of Expansive Learning: Foundations, Findings and Future Challenges. Educational Research Review, 5(1), 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Espinosa, A., & Harnden, R. (2007). Complexity Management, Democracy and Social Consciousness: Challenges for an Evolutionary Learning Society. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 20(5), 401–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Flood, R. L., & Romm, N. R. A. (1996). Contours of Diversity Management and Triple Loop Learning. Kybernetes, 25(7/8), 154–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Franco, L. A. (2007). Facilitating Collaboration with Problem Structuring Methods: A Case Study of an Inter-Organisational Construction Partnership. Group Decision and Negotiation, 17(4), 267–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hobbs, C. (2016). Tapping the Resource Within? Exploring a Learning Pathway for Systemic Leadership Within Local Governance Networks. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Ph.D. Systems Science, University of Hull, Hull, UK.Google Scholar
  10. Janis, I. L. (1972). Victims of Groupthink: A Psychological Study of Foreign-Policy Decisions and Fiascoes. Oxford, England: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  11. Laszlo, A., Luksha, P., & Karabeg, D. (2017). Systemic Innovation, Education and the Social Impact of the Systems Sciences. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 34(5), 601–608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Leicester, G. (2007). Policy Learning: Can Government Discover the Treasure Within? European Journal of Education, 42(2), 173–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Midgley, G., & Wilby, J. (2015). Learning Across Boundaries: Exploring the Variety of Systems Theory and Practice. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 32(5), 509–513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Mingers, J., & Rosenhead, J. (2004). Problem Structuring Methods in Action. European Journal of Operational Research, 152(3), 530–554.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Moynihan, D. P., & Landuyt, N. (2009). How Do Public Organizations Learn? Bridging Cultural and Structural Perspectives. Public Administration Review, 69(6), 1097–1105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Pedler, M., Abbott, C., Brook, C., & Burgoyne, J. (2014). Critically Reflective Action Learning: Improving Social Work Practice Through Critically Reflective Action Learning. Leeds: Skills for Care.Google Scholar
  17. Rosenhead, J. (1989). Rational Analysis for a Problematic World: Problem Structuring Methods for Complexity, Uncertainty and Conflict. Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
  18. Rosenhead, J. (1996). What’s the Problem? An Introduction to Problem Structuring Methods. Interfaces, 26(6), 117–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Sanderson, I. (2009). Intelligent Policy Making for a Complex World: Pragmatism, Evidence and Learning. Political Studies, 57(4), 699–719.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Schön, D. (1987). Educating the Reflective Practitioner: Towards a New Design for Teaching and Learning in the Professions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  21. Senge, P. (1990). The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of Organizational Learning. Milsons Point, NSW: Random House.Google Scholar
  22. Tsoukas, H., & Hatch, M. J. (2001). Complex Thinking, Complex Practice: The Case for a Narrative Approach to Organizational Complexity. Human Relations, 54(8), 979–1013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of Practice and Social Learning Systems. Organization, 7(2), 225–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Systems StudiesHull University Business SchoolCumbriaUK

Personalised recommendations