Learning to change: The case for systemic learning strategies in the humanitarian sector

Ramalingam, B. and Mitchell, J.
Publication language
60 pp
Date published
15 Dec 2022
Research, reports and studies
Organisational Learning and Change

This paper presents the case for systemic organisational change in the humanitarian system. The paper firstly shows that that organisational learning has tended to reinforce existing ways of working and has not been able to shift a culture that values action over reflection.  As a result, the rest of the paper asks about the most significant changes in the humanitarian sector and the contribution of learning. The paper explores four case studies on learning using a systems lens, which enables a more dynamic and holistic view of how learning actually works in the sector. The findings show that learning has indeed played a critical role in many key change efforts but has often not been part of wider organisational learning efforts. The paper’s conclusion suggests that the humanitarian sector needs to rethink its rationale and approach to learning; and that the research and explorations in the paper can underpin this approach. A number of steps are then proposed for how this may be taken forward.