The Characteristics of a Learning Organization

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The learning organization is the organization which implements various processes to capture new knowledge and also translate new knowledge into improved behaviour, products and services. The learning organization is distinctive in certain characteristics which I observed as a student in USQ. The characteristics of USQ as a learning organization which I have participated in are listed.

At USQ there is a clear organization vision. Orr (2000) stated that the organization vision is a vital characteristic of the learning organization and it means that the organization has clearly communicated and understood the vision, goals and objectives which act as a framework for learning across the organization. USQ has a clear vision to impart knowledge to its students and protect the integrity and sanctity of knowledge. The organization vision at USQ has always been to communicate the goals and objectives clearly to staff and students.

The second characteristic of organization learning is team-working. According to Snell, R (2001) team working should focus on enhancing the learning experience by the different team-members sharing experiences and talent thereby improving the productivity of the team. At USQ there is an emphasis on team working and learning. The staff of the business faculty has always ensured that as students we are exposed to working and learning in a team environment. The staff at USQ demonstrates team working in the way they manage the university. The university has different faculty and the different faculties work in teams to ensure that USQ is achieving the organization objectives by relying on teamwork.

The third characteristic of a learning organization is the blame free culture. Akella, D (2007) stated that in blame free culture individuals are encouraged and supported to come foward and identify mistakes and problems and thus learn how to improve operations and avoid similar problems in future. A blame free culture helps individuals view mistakes as learning opportunities. At USQ everyone is encouraged to approach the faculty if any mistake has been committed. Similarly the high level of transparency leads to a blame free culture which promotes organization learning at USQ. Thus USQ displays a clear vision to impart knowledge, team working and a blame free culture to epitomize the charatacteristics of a learning organization.


Brian Orr.  (2000, May). Organizational learning: Characteristics of leading organizations. Canadian

HR Reporter, 13(10), 11.  Retrieved September 10, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document

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Snell, Robin Stanley (01/03/2001). "Moral foundations of the learning organization". Human

relations (New York) (0018-7267), 54 (3), p. 319.

Akella, Devi (02/2007). "Learning Organizations". Global business review (0972-1509), 8 (1), p. 13

Question 2: Core cultural values USQ

Cultural values in organizations are essential because in the long run it's the organizations which are driven by values which are successful rather than the organizations which focus on the dollar signs. The core cultural values which I have observed at USQ are listed.

The key to develop a value system within the organization is to develop cultural resilience. (Cain, 2009).The cultural resilience is the ability of the organization to remain stable even in the most trying of situations. USQ demonstrates the core cultural values of diversity and meritocracy. Diversity is a cultural value in an organization where people from different backgrounds, nationalities, gender and races are encouraged to participate in the organization. According to Levin, D (2003) the ideal of diversity in an organization implies that once an organization becomes aware of this ideal it changes the composition of its workforce and determine the sort f interactions it tolerates and encourages at the workplace. The idea of diversity would have people from different backgrounds collaborating for a common purpose and this would be done without the conflict that usually accompanies intergroup interactions. At USQ the staff belongs to different backgrounds and it is an equal opportunity employer for academic staff. Thus diversity is a core cultural value at USQ and the management promotes the ideal of diversity.

The second core cultural value at USQ is meritocracy. Meritocracy is simply the application or recognizing merit above other considerations such as caste, race, sex or religion. As a university meritocracy is a core cultural value embedded at USQ. According to Gillies, V (2005) a culture of meritocracy leads to social mobility and social inclusion for displaced sections of the society. At USQ the education is imparted and the students are judged purely on merit. The university promotes an ethical culture where in order to promote excellence students are judged on the quality of their work and research. USQ has strict guidelines and guards against favouritism. USQ has demonstrated these core cultural values of meritocracy and diversity. As a student I have always received the grades which I deserve and am satisfied with the grading system at the University. The university staff is very diverse and the students enrolled at USQ belong to different countries.


Cain, R. (2009, April). Developing a Values-drive Organization. World Trade, 22(4), 46-47.  Retrieved September 10, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 1681341821)

Levine, David P (01/09/2003). "The ideal of diversity in organizations". American review of public administration (0275-0740), 33 (3), p. 278.

Gillies, Val (01/12/2005). "Raising the 'Meritocracy': Parenting and the Individualization of Social Class". Sociology (Oxford) (0038-0385), 39 (5), p. 835.

Question 3: Cultural Intelligence

The successful interaction across cultures requires cultural intelligence. As an individual who aspires to work in a multinational I am aiming at improving my cultural intelligence so that I can form successful working relationships at the workplace. I have researched and noted the following areas where I can strive to become culturally intelligent.

According to Triandis, H (2006) an individual can become culturally intelligent by trying to overcome ethnocentrism. An inescapable fact of life is that all human beings are ethnocentric. This means that all human perceive things as normal because of their cultural upbringing. However the successful managers are those who overcome this ethnocentrism and learn to appreciate other cultures. They understand that things which are normal in one culture are different in another culture. The fact to notice is that if one person knows only one culture it is inevitable that that person will become ethnocentric. Thus a way to train to overcome this issue of ethnocentrism is to study about different cultures. To overcome this issue I will strive to think from the other person's perspective and try to be in the other person's shoes.

The second important dimension relating to cultural intelligence is empathy. According to Ascalon, E (2008) empathy is a person understands of the behaviour of others. This is a capability which is as important as overcoming ethnocentrism. People who excel in cross cultural social intelligence or cultural intelligence are empathetic and non-ethnocentric. These are the two pillars of becoming culturally intelligent. As a university student I will aim at socializing more at university and understanding other people's culture. I believe that only by interaction can I learn about other cultures and become non-ethnocentric. DiStefano and Maznevski (2000) attributed ethnocentrism as a barrier to successful intercultural communication. Thus I aim at breaking down the barriers by overcoming this issue of ethnocentrism. The skills of cultural intelligence are important in this age of globalization and in a multicultural society I believe that I have to be empathetic.


Triandis, Harry C (01/02/2006). "Cultural Intelligence in Organizations". Group & organization management (1059-6011), 31 (1), p. 20.

Ascalon, Ma Evelina (2008). "Cross-cultural social intelligence". Cross cultural management (1352-7606), 15 (2), p.109

DiStefano, J.J. and Maznevski, M.L. (2000), "Creating values with diverse teams in global management", Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 45-63.

Question 4: Ethical Decision Making

The laying off of workers is the most difficult task a manager has to handle. In this situation where I have to apply a decision making framework to decide which workers to lay off. The ethical decision making framework is described which I applied to come to a decision.

According to Jones, T (2003) the ethical decision making framework should follow the organization culture. As a manager I will make the decision as to the situation and organization's cultural viewpoint, The organization culture will set out what is right, proper and fair. As an individual I would make the decision of consulting all the staff members and asking them which one of them wants early retirement. However as a manager I owe responsibility to the other stakeholders of the organization. Loe, Ferrell,& Mansfield, (2000) reiterate the fact that the organizational culture affects the ethical decisions that are made and I believe that this is the appropriate ethical decision making framework which should be followed in this situation. This framework is useful because it is situational and realistic. In the real world there are other considerations which have to be managed. Some organizations are designed in a way which promotes an individualistic viewpoint.

Lovell, A (2002) went a step ahead and described ethics as a dependent variable of individual and organizational factors. Thus when making this tough decision I will weigh up the situation in terms of my individual powers as well as my organizational commitments. Once I have assessed the situation I will then make the decision which I believe is right. As an individual I will be inclined to do the right thing and consult all employees to promote transparency. However I will have to balance my individual outlook with organizational pressures. Such a decision making framework is valid in the real world.