Theories of Action

Notes from “Theory in Practice,” Chris Argyris and Donald A. Schön, Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1978.

This book describes two theories of action. They can be related to the two reactions to stimuli postulated by Piaget, assimilate and adapt. Assimilate is the path normally taken when stimuli are close enough to what is expected, whereas adapt is the path taken when deviation is so great that future expectations must (should?) change.

  1. Learn to adopt new action strategies to achieve our governing variables.
  2. Learn to change our governing variables.

Reference to Ashby's (1952) distinction between single-loop and double-loop laerning:

… In the context of theories-in-use, a person engages in single-loop learning, for example, when he learns new techniques for suppressing conflict. He engages in double-loop learning when he learns to be concerned with the surfacing and resolution of conflict rather than with its suppression.
In single-loop learning, we learn to maintain the field of constancy ly learning to design actions that satisfy existing governing variables. In double-loop learning, we learn to change the field of constancy itself.
Double-loop learning does not supercede single-loop learning. Single-loop learning enables us to avoid continuing investment in the highly predictable activities that make up the bulk of our lives; but the theory-builder becomes a prisoner of his programs if he allows them to continue unexamined indefinitely. Double-loop learning changes the governing variables (the “settings”) of one's programs and causes ripples of change to fan out over one's whole system of theories-in-use.
theories_of_action.txt · Dernière modification: 2010/10/28 13:31 par suitable
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