The Canadian Corps in the Great War: A Learning Organization in Action

  • Lt.Col. David Fearon


On August 4, 1914 Canada found itself at war. While Canada had nearly complete control of its domestic affairs London still controlled its foreign policy. With only a small permanent force of 3,000 men, Canada found itself unprepared for war. By 1916, Canada's Army had grown to an infantry corps of four divisions. The Canadian Corps accomplished a remarkable process of maturation considering its unimpressive beginnings and the effect of its high casualty rate throughout the conflict. Analysis of the Canadian Corps revealed that the Corps' excellent performance during the war---particularly in the later years---resulted from its transformation into a learning organization. Supported by an organizational culture that encouraged and accepted change within the organization, the Canadian Corps possessed the traits of a learning organization, and demonstrated the expected behaviors of such an organization in its combat performance.                               

Author Biography

Lt.Col. David Fearon

Lt.Col. David Fearon MSM, CD, has extensive experience both as an officer in the Canadian Forces and as an academic in the field of military history. He joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1995 and transferred to the regular force in 2001. An infantry officer with the Royal Canadian Regiment, he deployed on operational deployments to Bosnia and twice to Afghanistan. Lieutenant-Colonel Fearon served as Deputy Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion The Royal Canadian Regiment, Officer Commanding The Duke of Edinburgh’s Company, and Officer Commanding Foxtrot Company. He is a 2015 graduate of the United States Army Command and General Staff College where he received the Father Donald Smyth Award for Military History and a 2016 graduate of the United States Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Lieutenant-Colonel Fearon is currently Chief of Staff 31 Canadian Brigade Group.

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