The current importance attributed to the need for a culture of learning would appear to stem from the necessity for people by business and industry with new skill sets that are more effective for dealing with a turbulent global economy and marketplace. As the complexity of the world and the issues confronting communities, government, business and industry have escalated, so the importance of continuous learning has come to the fore in grappling with these complex issues. The role of schools and other academic institutions in establishing the foundation for a culture of learning it is suggested needs to be questioned, as it would appear that in South Africa, not
withstanding numerous calls for such a culture, the situation appears to have deteriorated, instead of improving.
With this as background the focus in this paper is on gaining an insight into what constitutes a culture of learning, the economic imperative for the development of such a culture and the means whereby it may be achieved. An important conclusion made is that the assumption of being able to manage the concept culture intentionally is in effect flawed. An alternative complex adaptive systems approach is suggested as a possible solution to the difficulty encountered in engendering a culture of learning in South African institutions.