Barriers to Implementing the Concept of Learning Organization in Public Administration – the Example of PIORiN

Jacek Pasieczny, Tomasz Rosiak


Theoretical background: An efficient public administration is a prerequisite for a harmonious development of business, and for the security and prosperity of society. Its rapidity and quality are particularly important in the situation of dynamic economic, political and social changes. However, the model upon which administration is built and functions fails to meet the requirements of the present day. The subject of dysfunctional bureaucracy has been thoroughly analyzed and described in detail. Blind adherence to regulations, reluctance to introduce changes and lack of motivation to help clients are well-known vices of bureaucratic organizations throughout the world. Although countless attempts have been made to change the way these organizations function, the design and implementation of such improvements is hindered by a variety of obstacles. In this article, we shall describe barriers to the process of implementing the concept of a learning organization in a large bureaucratic organization.

Purpose of the article: The purpose of the article is to discuss a number of barriers to the process of implementing the concept of a learning organization within a specific bureaucratic organization, namely the State Plant Health and Seed Inspection Service (Państwowa Inspekcja Ochrony Roślin i Nasiennictwa, PIORiN). The barriers discussed were identified in the course of research. Thus, the article adds to the existing body of knowledge about the functioning of bureaucratic organizations, their specificity and processes that take place within them. By identifying potential and actual barriers to the process of change, we can better understand organizational behavior. It also provides practical knowledge about the critical elements of the process of change.

Research methods: Research was conducted within a large public institution in charge of phytosanitary controls. Three types of triangulation were used in the study: methodological, theoretical and investigator triangulation. Conclusions were drawn on the basis of a total of 51 interviews, of which 31 were conducted within the organization and 20 with external partners (clients). The basic tool used for collecting data was an open interview, always conducted by two researchers at a time. Interviews were transcribed and read on an ongoing basis with a view to carrying out a preliminary selection and category coding. Four team members participated in the coding process. Codes were subsequently analyzed and grouped into categories that served for drawing conclusions.

Main findings: A number of barriers of great consequence for the process of implementing the concept of learning organization in administration have been identified; the most important are: excessive formalization, limited use of clients’ knowledge, insufficient financing, inadequate IT support, and limited cooperation with other public institutions.


learning organization; public administration; barriers; excessive formalization; limited cooperation

Full Text:



Acar, O.A., Tarakci, M., & Van Knippenberg, D. (2019). Creativity and innovation under constraints: A cross-disciplinary integrative review. Journal of Management, 45(1), 96–121.

Argyris, Ch., & Schon, D. (1978). Organizational Learning: A Theory of Action Perspective. Reading: Addison-Wesley.

Batko, R. (2013). Golem Awatar Midas Złoty Cielec. Organizacja publiczna w płynnej nowoczesności. Warszawa: Wyd. Akademickie SEDNO.

Burrell, G., & Morgan, G. (1979). Sociological Paradigms and Organizational Analysis. Aldershot: Gower.

Crozier, M. (2009). The Bureaucratic Phenomenon. Abingdon: Routledge.

Cuffa, D., & Steil, A.V. (2019). Organizational learning in public organizations: An integrative review. Navus: Revista De Gestão e Tecnologia, 9(3), 112–123.

Czarniawska, B. (2014). Why I think shadowing is the best field technique in management and studies. Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management. An International Journal, 9(1), 90–93.

Davenport, T., & Prusak, L. (1998). Working Knowledge. How Organizations Manage What They Know. Brighton: Harvard Business School Press.

De Hart-Davies, L., & Pandey, S. (2005). Red tape and public employees: Does perceived rule dysfunction alienate managers? Journal of Public Administration. Research and Theory, 15(1), 133–148.

Dekker, S., & Hansén, D. (2004). Learning under pressure: The effects of politicization on organizational learning in public bureaucracies. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory: J-PART, 14(2), 211–230.

Dolińska, M. (2005). Procesy uczenia w organizacji i aliansie strategicznym. Przegląd Organizacji, 1, 19–22.

Gieske, H., Van Meerkerk, I., & Van Buuren, A. (2019).The impact of innovation and optimization on public sector performance: Testing the contribution of connective, ambidextrous, and learning capabilities. Public Performance & Management Review, 4(2), 432–460.

Greiling, D., & Halachmi, A. (2013). Accountability and organizational learning in the public sector. Public Performance & Management Review, 36(3), 380–406.

Hansen, M.T., Nohria, S., & Tierney, T. (1999). What’s your strategy for managing knowledge. Harvard Business Review, 77(2), 106–116.

Jasimuddin, S.M., Klein, J.H., & Connel, C. (2005). The paradox of using tacit and explicit knowledge strategies to face dilemmas. Management Decisions, 43, 104–105.

De Jong, J.D. (2016). Dealing with Dysfunction: Innovative Problem Solving in the Public Sector. Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.

Kędzierski, M. (2022). Integracja czy połączenie. Analiza możliwości zwiększenia efektywności działania inspekcji weterynaryjnej oraz ochrony roślin i nasiennictwa. Warszawa: Fundacja Europejski Fundusz Rozwoju Wsi Polskiej.

Kłobukowski, P., & Kłobukowska, K. (2021). Administracja publiczna jako organizacja ucząca się – badanie usługobiorców PIORiN. Studia i Materiały, 1(34), 161–174.

Kołtuniak, M. (2021). Zarządzanie inspekcją ochrony roślin w turbulentnym świecie – od rygorystycznej kontroli do elastycznego nadzoru? Studia i Materiały, 1(34), 119–133.

Konecki, K. (2000). Studia z metodologii badań jakościowych. Teoria ugruntowana. Warszawa: Wyd. Naukowe PWN.

Kumar, R. (2011). Research Methodology. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

Levitt, B., & March, J.G. (1988). Organizational learning. Annual Review of Sociology, 14, 319–340.

Macias, J. (2011). Strategie zarządzania wiedzą w przedsiębiorstwie. Przegląd Organizacji, 7–8, 4.

Merton, R.K. (1996). On Social Structure and Science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Mieczkowski, B. (1991). Dysfunctional Bureaucracy: A Comparative and Historical Perspective. Lanham: University Press of America.

Mikuła, B. (2005). Procesy organizacyjnego uczenia się w aliansie strategicznym. Przegląd Organizacji, 5, 9–12.

Miles, M., Huberman, A.M., & Saldana, J. (2014). Qualitative Data Analysis. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

Miller, G. (2002). Rational choice and dysfunctional institutions. Governance, 13(4), 535–547.

Morgan, G. (2006). Images of Organization. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

Moynihan, D.P., & Landuyt, N. (2009). How do public organizations learn? Bridging cultural and structural perspectives. Public Administration Review, 69(6), 1097–1105.

Mumford, A. (1995). The learning organization in review. The Learning Organization in Review, 27(1), 5.

Nonaka, I., & Takeuchi, K. (1995). The Knowledge Creating Company: How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Olejarski, A., Potter, M., & Morrison, R. (2019). Organizational learning in the public sector: Culture, politics, and performance. Public Integrity, 21(1), 69–85.

Pasieczny, J., & Rosiak, T. (2021). W kierunku organizacji uczącej się. Warszawa: Wyd. UW.

Peeters, R., Trujillo Jiménez, H., O’Connor, E., González Galindo, M., & Morales Tenorio, D. (2018). Low-trust bureaucracy: Understanding the Mexican bureaucratic experience. Public Administration and Development, 38(2), 65–74.

Popper, M., & Lipshitz, R. (2000). Organizational learning: Mechanisms, culture and feasibility. Management Learning, 31(2), 181–196.

Postuła, A., & Rosiak, T. (2022). Human resource management in the public sector. The challenges of the industry 4.0. Scientific Papers of Silesian University of Technology, Organization and Management Series, 164.

Quinn, J.B. (1980). Strategies for Change: Logical Incrementalism. Homewood: IRWIN.

Rokita, J. (2003). Organizacja ucząca się. Katowice: Wyd. AE.

Sarvary, M. (1999). Knowledge management and competition in the consulting industry. California Management Review, 41(2), 95–107.

Senge, P.M. (1990). The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. New York: Broadway Business.

Sułkowski, Ł. (2003). O związkach między kulturą organizacyjną a organizacją uczącą się. Przegląd Organizacji, 4, 9–11.

Tsang, E. (1997). Organizational learning and the learning organization: A dichotomy between descriptive and prescriptive research. Human Relations, 1, 73–89.

Vince, R., & Saleem, T. (2004). The impact of caution and blame on organizational learning. Management Learning, 35(2), 133–154.

Wiemann, M., Meidert, N., & Weibel, A. (2019). “Good” and “bad” control in public administration: The impact of performance evaluation systems on employees’ trust in the employer. Public Personnel Management, 48(3), 283–308.

Yanow, D. (2000). Seeing organizational learning: A ‘cultural’ view. Organization, 7(2), 247–268.

Data publikacji: 2023-04-19 10:27:40
Data złożenia artykułu: 2022-10-02 18:18:21


Total abstract view - 213
Downloads (from 2020-06-17) - PDF - 0



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2023 Jacek Pasieczny, Tomasz Rosiak

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.