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  4. 3.07 Organisational learning

3.07 Organisational learning

Academic team: Dr Leah Tomkins, Professor Jean Hartley
Policing partners: Metropolitan Police Service
Status: Complete


We are working with leaders, officers and staff at the Metropolitan Police Service in London to change understandings and practices of Organisational learning (OL). This means helping to shape MPS as a culture of learning and innovation – both in front-line policing and in the centralised functions of strategy, leadership and organisational development.  All this is taking place against a backdrop of significant change brought about through the particular demands of London as a global city.

Our main focus to date has been in the following areas:

  • Learning from success and failure; including identifying the different reasons for failure and their different policy implications for both developmental and corrective action – both within MPS and amongst external regulatory stakeholders, such as the IOPC.
  • Connections between learning and well-being; including exploring what it means to embed a culture of psychological safety which is conducive to both learning and health for individual officers and staff and for the organisation as a whole.   
  • Leadership and organisational learning; including understanding the priorities for leaders in an environment of intense scrutiny and risk, where attributions for failure have historically been biased towards personal fault rather than based on the complexity of task or situation.  
  • Evidence-based practice; integrating ‘what matters’ with ‘what works’ as key criteria for the collection and deployment of evidence, and identifying both the benefits and the barriers for OL within MPS culture.
  • Innovation; highlighting and busting myths that the public sector is not very good at innovation; that innovation has to be big & cutting edge; and that bureaucracy is necessarily the enemy.


Title Outputs type Lead academic Year To note
From blame to praise in policing: Implications for leadership and the public conversation Action research report Tomkins, L 2020  
From blame to praise in policing: Implications for strategy, culture, process and well-being Action research report Tomkins, L 2020  
Asymmetries of leadership: Agency, response and reason Academic paper Tomkins, L 2019 Available on request
Learning and well-being: Safety, failure, fault and blame Board report Tomkins, L 2019 Available on request
Empowering learning Board report Bristow, A 2019 Available on request
Leadership and organisational learning Board report Tomkins, L 2019 Available on request



Can a virtual reality courtroom be a useful learning tool?

Dr Ahmed Kadry and Simon Hull, who both work in the Department for Policing at The Open University (OU), have recently finished a project that evaluated OU policing apprentice's experiences of learning in a virtual reality (VR) courtroom.

4th December 2023
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Upcoming Events

Dec 7

Membership Group Meeting

Thursday, December 7, 2023 - 10:30 to 12:30

Jan 15

Research Priority workshop

Monday, January 15, 2024 - 11:00 to 13:00

The Open University, Milton Keynes

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