NATO and organizational change: Adaptation or learning?
NATO was originally established to contain the Soviet/Russian threat and to define the security role of Germany. In the face of changing world conditions, NATO, like all organizations, faced the alternatives of questioning its basic purpose through a learning process, changing through adaptation, or dissolving. NATO chose to survive through adaptation. NATO did not learn because of the failure of the European Community/European Union members of the alliance to redefine the problem consistent with changing security conditions. Instead they have retained old beliefs and only consented to organizational adaptation to preserve the alliance for its perceived benefits. In order for NATO to learn, however, they must cease drafting policies for achieving their narrow national interests and acknowledge that the allies are interdependent in every aspect of modern life. Learning is preferable to adaptation, since only through learning can NATO promote its ability to survive and prosper and enhance its members' welfare.