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Exploring organizational learning mechanisms in special education

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Purpose ‐ The notion of organizational learning (OL) has reached the forefront of both school change discourse and academic inquiry. However, this notion has not yet undergone deliberate thinking and research within the special education domain. The purpose of this paper is to address this gap in the literature by empirically investigating OL through a structural concept ‐ organizational learning mechanisms (OLMs) ‐ as embedded into the learning values (culture) of special education. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A case study of three student's functioning levels (low, intermediate, and high) in a special education school provided the context for studying OLMs and the learning values (culture) influencing their productivity. Findings ‐ This paper supports the existence of and the capacity for systematic learning through institutionalized structures and procedures in a special education school. This paper also illuminates the effect of learning values (culture) on the effectiveness of OLMs in a special education school. Research limitations/implications ‐ Generalizing from this case study (a special education school comprising three levels of student functioning) is quite problematic. However, this paper supports the merit of empirically researching OL in special education schools through the structural-cultural framework. Originality/value ‐ This paper provides a useful conceptual and empirical framework to evaluate special education schools as learning organizations.
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Keywords: Israel; Learning organizations; Learning processes; Secondary education

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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