Interrelationships of climate adaptation and organizational learning: Development of a measurement model
Sophie Fischer 1 * , Michael Göhlich 2, Jan Schmitt 1
More Detail
1 Institute of Digital Engineering, University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt, Germany
2 Institute of Education, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany
* Corresponding Author


Climate adaptation and learning support organizations in dealing with the current and projected consequences of climate change by recognizing challenges as opportunities, ensuring business continuity and increasing their economic efficiency. Beside material resources, climate adaptation requires knowledge, technical expertise, and learning capacity. Our contribution examines the interrelationship between climate adaptation and organizational learning, as the consideration of climate adaptation in the long term and with respect to organizational learning or realignment is still represented very little in research. Thus, we conduct a regional study to analyze to what extent the companies already have climate-related structures conducive to learning, to what extent they take responsibility in terms of the learning object (climate change), and which elements prove to be limiting here. The survey of 288 companies and handicraft companies illustrate that intangible resources such as a sense of responsibility, executives’ positive attitude and common values have a significant influence on the way companies deal with climate change. Executives characterize key actors for organizational goal setting, strategic development, and functional process monitoring. The study shows that the number of climate-related measures taken increases due to higher resource capacities.  As we draw conclusions about changing learning requirements, conditions, and mediums in the face of climate change, findings can provide relevant inspiration for scholars or practitioners to perceive climate adaptation as a valuable and strategic challenge to enhance the organization’s resilience per se.



  • Ameling, D., Bajorat, B., Brinker, W., Burger, R., Cramer, H. J., von Dohnanyi, K., ... & Pfister, P. (2012). Anpassungsstrategien in der Klimapolitik [Adaptation strategies in climate policy]. Springer Science+ Business Media.
  • Argyris, C. (1976). Single-loop and double-loop models in research on decision-making. Administrative Science Quarterly,21(3), 363-375.
  • Argyris, C., & Schön, D. A. (1997). Organizational learning: A theory of action perspective. Reis, 77/78, 345-348.
  • Bianchi, G., Testa, F., Boiral, O., & Iraldo, F. (2022). Organizational learning for environmental sustainability: Internalizing lifecycle management. Organization & Environment, 35(1), 103-129.
  • Berkes, F. (2007). Understanding uncertainty and reducing vulnerability: lessons from resilience thinking. Natural hazards, 41(2), 283-295.
  • BMU. (2020). Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und nukleare Sicherheit. Broschüre Nr. 10034. Klimaschutz in Zahlen. Fakten, Trends und Impulse deutscher Klimapolitik [Climate mitigation in numbers. Facts, Trends and Impulses of German Climate Policy]. Retrieved August 20, 2021 from
  • Bowyer, P., Bender, S., Rechid, D., & Schaller, M. (2014). Adapting to climate change: methods and tools for climate risk management. Climate Service Center.
  • Castro, G. M. D., Delgado-Verde, M., Amores-Salvadó, J., & Navas-López, J. E. (2013). Linking human, technological, and relational assets to technological innovation: exploring a new approach. Knowledge Management Research & Practice, 11(2), 123-132.
  • Çömlek, O., Kitapçı, H., Çelik, V., & Özşahin, M. (2012). The effects of organizational learning capacity on firm innovative performance. Procedia-Social and Behavioural Sciences, 41, 367-374.
  • Daddi, T., Todaro, N. M., De Giacomo, M. R., & Frey, M. (2018). A systematic review of the use of organization and management theories in climate change studies. Business Strategy and the Environment, 27(4), 456-474.
  • Delios, A., & Beamish, P. W. (2001). Survival and profitability: The roles of experience and intangible assets in foreign subsidiary performance. Academy of Management journal, 44(5), 1028-1038.
  • Easterby-Smith, M. P. V., & Lyles, M. (2003). The blackwell handbook of organizational learning and knowledge management. Blackwell.
  • Eggers, J. P., & Kaplan, S. (2009). Cognition and renewal: Comparing CEO and organizational effects on incumbent adaptation to technical change. Organization Science, 20(2), 461-477.
  • Feld, T. C., & Seitter, W. (2018). Weiterbildung/Erwachsenenbildung und Organisationspädagogik [Professional development/adult education and organizational education]. In M. Göhlich, S. Weber, N. Engel, & A. Schröer (Eds.) Handbuch Organisationspädagogik [The handbook of organizational education] (pp. 83-93). Springer.
  • Fischer, S., Frese, M., Mertins, J. C., & Hardt-Gawron, J. V. (2018). The role of error management culture for firm and individual innovativeness. Applied Psychology, 67(3), 428-453.
  • Fischer, S., Keupp, L., Paeth, H., Göhlich, M., & Schmitt, J. (2022). Climate adaptation as organizational learning: a grounded theory study on manufacturing companies in a Bavarian Region. Education Sciences, 12(1), 22.
  • Fischer, S., & Schmitt, J. (2022). Regionalstudie auswirkungen des globalen klimawandels in Mainfranken: Grundlagenwissen, aktuelle strategien und bedarfe ansässiger wirtschaft [Regional study of the effects of global climate change in Mainfranken: Basic knowledge, current strategies and needs of local businesses]. Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften Würzburg-Schweinfurt.
  • Gherardi, S. (2013). Is organizational learning possible without participation? In S.M. Weber, M. Göhlich, A. Schöer, C. Fahrenwald, & H. Macha (Eds) Organisation und Partizipation [Organisation and participation] (pp. 29–43). Springer.
  • Gnyawali, D. R., & Stewart, A. C. (2003). A contingency perspective on organizational learning: integrating environmental context, organizational learning processes, and types of learning. Management Learning, 34(1), 63-89.
  • Göhlich, M., Schröer, A., & Weber, S. M. (2018). Organisationspädagogik–erziehungswissenschaftliche Subdisziplin und pädagogisches Arbeitsfeld. In M. Göhlich, S. Weber, N. Engel, & A. Schröer (Eds.) Handbuch Organisationspädagogik [The handbook of organizational education] (pp. 1-13). Springer.
  • Göhlich, M., & Zirfas, J. (2007). Lernen: ein pädagogischer Grundbegriff [Learning: a basic pedagogical concept.] W. Kohlhammer Verlag.
  • Günterberg, B., & Wolter, H. J. (2002). Unternehmensgrößenstatistik 2001/2002: Daten und Fakten [Company size statistics 2001/2002: Facts and figures] (No. 157). IfM-Materialien.
  • Gütschow, J., Jeffery, L., Gieseke, R., Günther, A., Gebel, R., Stevens, D., ... & Rocha, M. (2016). The PRIMAP-hist national historical emissions time series (1850-2017). Earth System Science Data, 8, 571-603.
  • Hentze, J., Graf, A., Kammel, A., & Lindert, K. (2005). Personalführungslehre: Grundlagen, Funktionen und Modelle der Führung [Personnel management theory: basics, functions and models of leadership]. Haupt.
  • Hurrelmann, K., Becker, L., Fichter, K., Mahammadzadeh, M., & Seela, A. (2018). Klima-LO: Klimaanpassungsmanagement in Lernenden Organisationen [Climate adaptation management in learning organizations]. Unter.
  • Iturriza, M., Labaka, L., Ormazabal, M., & Borges, M. (2020). Awareness-development in the context of climate change resilience. Urban Climate, 32, 100613.
  • Institute for Ecological Economic Research (2012). Dialog zur Klimaanpassung [Dialogue of climate adaptation]. Retrieved from unternehmen/
  • Iqbal, Q., & Ahmad, N. H. (2021). Sustainable development: The colors of sustainable leadership in learning organization. Sustainable Development, 29(1), 108-119.
  • Kim, K. (2021). A measure of adaptive performance and the DLOQ. The Learning Organization, 28(4), 397-412.
  • Kind, C., Protze, N., Savelsberg, J., Lühr, O., Ley, S., Lambert, J., & Prognos, A. (2015). Entscheidungsprozesse zur Anpassung an den Klimawandel in Kommunen [Decision-making processes for adaptation to climate change in municipalities]. Umweltbundesamt.
  • Linnenluecke, M. K., Griffiths, A., & Winn, M. I. (2013). Firm and industry adaptation to climate change: a review of climate adaptation studies in the business and management field. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 4(5), 397-416.
  • Lloria, M. B., & Moreno-Luzon, M. D. (2014). Organizational learning: Proposal of an integrative scale and research instrument. Journal of Business Research, 67(5), 692-697.
  • López-Cabrales, Á., Real, J. C., & Valle, R. (2011). Relationships between human resource management practices and organizational learning capability: The mediating role of human capital. Personnel Review.
  • Luhmann, N. (1984). Soziale Systeme: Grundriss einer allgemeinen Theorie [System Theory]. Suhrkamp.
  • Mahammadzadeh, M., Chrischilles, E., & Biebeler, H. (2013). Klimaanpassung in Unternehmen und Kommunen: Betroffenheiten, Verletzlichkeiten und Anpassungsbedarf [Climate Adaptation in Companies and Communities: Affectedness, Vulnerability and Adaptation Needs] (No. 83). IW-Analysen.
  • Marsick, V. J., & Watkins, K. E. (2003). Demonstrating the value of an organization’s learning culture: the dimensions of the learning organization questionnaire. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 5(2), 132–151.
  • Mbah, M., Brohmann, B., & Schütte, S. (2021). Transdisciplinary disposal governance–Learning and reflexion in and between organisations and through participation of the public. Safety of Nuclear Waste Disposal, 1, 221-223.
  • Meinel, U., & Höferl, K. M. (2017). Non-adaptive behaviour in the face of climate change: First insights from a behavioural perspective based on a case study among firm managers in alpine Austria. Sustainability, 9(7), 1132.
  • Meinel, U., & Schüle, R. (2018). The difficulty of climate change adaptation in manufacturing firms: Developing an action-theoretical perspective on the causality of adaptive inaction. Sustainability, 10(2), 569.
  • Mertler, C. A., Vannatta, R. A., & LaVenia, K. N. (2021). Advanced and multivariate statistical methods: Practical application and interpretation. Routledge.
  • Michel, J. S., Pichler, S., & Newness, K. (2014). Integrating leader affect, leader work-family spill over, and leadership. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 35(5), 410–428.
  • Montada, L., Kals, E., & Becker, R. (2014). Umweltschützende Informations- und Zahlungsbereitschaften. Zusammenstellung sozialwissenschaftlicher Items und Skalen [Environmental information and willingness to pay. Compilation of social science items and scales]. ZIS.
  • Nerdinger, F. W., Blickle, G., Schaper, N., & Schaper, N. (2008). Arbeits-und Organisationspsychologie [Organizational psychology] (Vol. 429). Springer.
  • Nicolletti, M., Lutti, N., Souza, R., & Pagotto, L. (2019). Social and organizational learning in the adaptation to the process of climate change: The case of a Brazilian thermoplastic resins and petrochemical company. Journal of Cleaner Production, 226, 748-758.
  • Nonaka, I., & Takeuchi, H. (1996). The knowledge-creating company: How Japanese companies create the dynamics of innovation. Long Range Planning, 4(29), 592.
  • Orsato, R. J., Barakat, S. R., & de Campos, J. G. F. (2017). Organizational adaptation to climate change: learning to anticipate energy disruptions. International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, 9(5), 645-665.
  • Park, S., & Kim, E. J. (2018). Fostering organizational learning through leadership and knowledge sharing. Journal of Knowledge Management, 22(6), 1408-1423.
  • Pörtner, H. O., Roberts, D. C., Adams, H., Adler, C., Aldunce, P., Ali, E., & Stevens, N. (2022). Climate change 2022: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  • Rauh, J., & Paeth, H. (2011). Anthropogener Klimawandel und Weinwirtschaft – Wahrnehmung und Anpassungsmaßnahmen fränkischer Winzer auf den Wandel klimatischer Bedingungen [Anthropogenic climate change and the wine industry]. Berichte zur deutschen Landeskunde [Reports on German regional studies] 85(2), 151-177.
  • Risher, J., & Hair Jr, J. F. (2017). The robustness of PLS across disciplines. Academy of Business Journal, 1, 47-55.
  • Rupčić, N. (2018). Intergenerational learning and knowledge transfer–challenges and opportunities. The Learning Organisation.
  • Schlüter, A. (2018). Individuelle Akteure als Gegenstand der Organisationspädagogik [Individual actors as the subject of organizational education]. In M. Göhlich, S. Weber, N. Engel, & A. Schröer (Eds.) Handbuch Organisationspädagogik [The handbook of organizational education] (pp. 407-417). Springer VS, Wiesbaden.
  • Schönbein, D., Keupp, L., & Paeth, H. (2020). Dossier Klimawandel [Dossier climate change]. Retrieved June 15, 2021 from
  • Senge, P. M. (1990). The art and practice of the learning organization (Vol. 1). Doubleday.
  • Stocker, T. (2014). Climate change 2013: The physical science basis: Working Group I contribution to the Fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press.
  • Souza, R., Sousa, S., & Nunes, E. (2020). Developing organisational learning through QC story. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 31(13-14), 1565-1587.
  • Statista. (2020). Dossier Klimawandel [Dossier climate change]. Retrieved June 15, 2021 from statista-dossier/
  • Sump, F., & Yi, S. (2021). Different reasons for different responses: A review of incumbents’ adaptation in carbon-intensive industries. Organization & Environment, 34(2), 323-346.
  • Taber, K. S. (2018). The use of Cronbach’s alpha when developing and reporting research instruments in science education. Research in Science Education, 48(6), 1273-1296.
  • Theobald, A. (2016). Praxis Online-Marktforschung: Grundlagen–Anwendungsbereiche–Durchführung [Practice online market research: basic application areas-implementation]. Springer-Verlag.
  • Teo, H. H., Wang, X., Wei, K. K., Sia, C. L., & Lee, M. K. (2006). Organizational learning capacity and attitude toward complex technological innovations: An empirical study. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 57(2), 264-279.
  • Tuten, T. L., Urban, D. J., & Bosnjak, M. (2002). Internet surveys and data quality: A review. Online Social Sciences, 1, 7-26.
  • Umweltbundesamt. (2022). Emissionsquellen [Emission sources]. Retrieved January 11, 2021 from
  • Weber, S. M., Göhlich, M., Schiersmann, C., & Schröer, A. (2011). Organisation und Führung–Organisationspädagogische Verhältnisbestimmungen [Organisation and leadership-organizational pedagogical relationship determinations]. In M. Göhlich, S. Weber, C. Schiersmann & A. Schröer (Eds.), Organisation und Führung [Organisation and Leadership] (pp. 9-26). VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.
  • Weber, S. M., Schroder, C., Truschkat, I., Peters, L., & Herz, A. (2019). Organisation und Netzwerke: Eine Einleitung [Organization and Networks: An Introduction]. In Weber, S.M., Schroder, C., Truschkat, I., Peters, L., Herz, A. (Eds.), Organisation und Netzwerke [Organisation and Networks] (pp. 1-18). Springer VS, Wiesbaden.
  • Zollo, M., Cennamo, C., & Neumann, K. (2013). Beyond what and why: Understanding organizational evolution to-wards sustainable enterprise models. Organization & Environment, 26(3), 241–259.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.