This paper describes the consequences for workplace e-learning of viewing organisations as political systems. Organisations tend to stratify, and potential conflicts develop between ???top-down???, or designer-generation of workplace systems, and ???bottom-up???, or learner- and practice-based approaches. The differences between these groups in terms of their objectives, procedures, tacit knowledge and conceptions of the value of workplace e-learning have led to conflicts which have damaged real e-learning projects in the past. Some cases from the literature are analysed to support this point. However, other examples show how these tensions may also be turned into opportunities for communication, learning and collaborative design, through including in workplace e-learning design a measure of operational proximity and organisational citizenship behaviour. It is suggested that through initiatives like these, designer-generation and learner-generation of context may act as complementary checks or balances, each helping compensate for the deficits of the other, and thus improving workplace e-learning effectiveness.