The Military as a Learning Organisation: Establishing the Fundamentals of Best-practice in Lessons Learned

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

750 Downloads (Pure)


The post-Cold War era has witnessed the rapid expansion of organisational learning initiatives within NATO militaries, especially formal ‘lessons-learned’ processes. The effectiveness of national lessons-learned processes in recalibrating military activity to the demands of ongoing operations has been highly-differentiated. However, the academic literature on military change and practitioner guidance has been slow to investigate the key features of best-practice in military learning. This article breaks new ground by drawing upon the literature on dynamic organisational capabilities to explore the fundamental organisational processes and activities which are necessary to implement successful lessons-learned. It examines, in particular, the organisational features which facilitate ‘knowledge transformation’: the effective combination of new knowledge gained from intra- and inter-organisational learning with existing organisational knowledge. The article concludes by highlighting several potential future empirical and theoretical research agendas in military learning and the importance of engagement between lessons-learned practitioners and organisational learning scholars.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-129
Number of pages23
JournalDefence Studies
Issue number2
Early online date31 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Dynamic organisational capabilities
  • Knowledge transformation
  • Lessons-learned
  • Military learning
  • NATO Lessons-Learned Handbook
  • Organisational learning

Cite this