The role of self-transcending knowledge in Senge’s understanding of learning organizations Towards an interdisciplinary taxonomy of self-transcending knowledge

Alexander Kaiser, Markus Peschl

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the concept of self-transcending knowledge as one of P. Senge’s
common themes underpinning his five disciplines approach. It will be shown that the notions of vision, purpose and
transcendence, especially self-transcendence are closely related to each other. However, the aspect of self-transcendence has not been covered well yet in the existing literature. That is why this paper is guided by the following research question: What does a consolidated, integrative and interdisciplinary concept of selftranscending knowledge look like, and what are its defining and unifying features and characteristics with respect to learning organizations?
Design/methodology/approach – This conceptual paper draws on (both theoretical and empirical) interdisciplinary evidence from a wide variety of fields, such as organization studies, psychology, philosophy, learning organizations, cognitive science and innovation studies. Key authors from the field of selftranscending knowledge and their approaches will be discussed to develop a unified interdisciplinary concept
of self-transcending knowledge and its possible applications, which will be demonstrated in a case study.
Findings – Self-transcending knowledge turns out to be central in the fields of learning (organizations) and
innovation, as it deals with future-oriented knowledge that is “not yet”, that transcends the boundaries of
existing knowledge. It is based on self-detachment, the notion of potentials and the insight that novel
knowledge is not only the result of a creative agent (or organization) but also can be found and cocreated
through an attentive search in an unfolding reality.
Originality/value – Existing literature in the field of P. Senge’s five disciplines (and beyond) does not offer a
comprehensive concept of self-transcending knowledge. This paper addresses this issue by bringing together
approaches from a wide range of fields related to this concept; it develops an interdisciplinary and coherent notion and taxonomy of self-transcending knowledge and shows its impact for learning organizations and innovation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527 - 539
JournalThe Learning Organization
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 102
  • 502050 Business informatics
  • 509018 Knowledge management

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