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The transition of higher education organizations into learning organizations requires continuous effort. From last few decades inventions, innovations and modernizations has entirely changed the way of doing work. Many studies have been conducted to explore the new ways for the learning of the individuals. Today policy makers of higher education organizations are forced to think about the challenging organizational environment. The question how to compete in the market Leads towards learning organization. Striving for the best and deployment of skilled personnel and knowledge management is the spirit of the learning organization.
The idea of learning organization is the outcome of knowledge management. According to my point of view learning organization is a continuous approach of the individuals towards creative and progressive learning environment to optimal use of the organizational resources and proper utilization of knowledge from upward to downward to streamline the individual goals with the organizational goals. Only knowledge management is not essential for the learning organization but also individuals must be ready to support the new changes. In third world countries like Pakistan, most of the organizations suffering because individuals are not ready to adopt the new things due to their pessimistic approach towards the organization.
Peter M. Senge has opened up a new horizon about the learning organization and he has introduced a very remarkable book The Fifth Discipline: "The Art and Practice of The Learning Organization". Senge defined: In learning organizations people continually expand their capacity to achieve their desired goals, where new and expensive patterns of thinking are fostered, where collective objective is set free, and where people are continually learning to learn together. In this book Senge has planned a framework of five disciplines: Personal mastery, Mental model, System thinking, Team learning, Shared vision to provide a foundation for the managers to transform the organization from organizational learning to" learning organization". Senge has discussed many management flaws which hold back the practices of learning organization. He has given many practical examples to high lighten the organizational issues in context of learning organization.
The purpose of this paper is to analyze that how well higher education organizations are functioning as a learning organization. The reason to opt for this topic is that higher education organizations produce thousands of graduates annually who ultimately runs the organization and becomes input for the organization to transform into learning organization. But their creativity, capability and system thinking depends on what they have learnt from their institutes. This paper will help to provide a strapping foundation for all the higher education organizations to analyze whether they are functioning as a learning organization or not.
Learning environment in Higher Education organizations:
Today every organization intends to penetrate in the market and wishes for competitive advantages over all the others. To achieve this goal they are much focusing on "restructuring", "reengineering" their processes, competent hiring and bearing millions for training, just to meet their future needs. In general and specifically for the higher education organizations only these concepts are not sufficient to renovate into learning organization. Switching towards learning organization desires Psychological Safety, admiration of different opinions, openness to new ideas, time for reflection, experimentation, information collection and information transfer to all the individuals and also acceptability of new changes is much essential for the higher education organizations.
(Rowley, 1998) Pointed out that higher education organizations considered as a learning community where faculty members and students both engaged in learning environment. So it might be considered that the environment in higher education organizations is more suitable for transforming the organization into learning organization. How much it can be changed it depends on the environment of the organization and an organization who is striving for the learning organization may not be determined in terms of structure and culture.
In addition (Aggestam, 2006) pointed out that learning organization support learning culture that make sure the learning of individuals which requires shared vision to build such type of environment. Learning organization and knowledge management both are dependent, it is difficult to respond which came first just like the chicken and egg. Learning organization and knowledge management play their role as a system and subsystem. They are two indivisible parts when an organization transforms into learning organization and it is a learning system which meets up internal and external environment. But according to (Cavaleri, 2008) there is still need to develop a consensus about learning organization to be converted into a significant model for the other organizations.it replicates a variation among the approaches of learning organization.this thing leads the executives towards uncertain outcomes due to their lack of understanding about the learning organization.
For another instance (Peters, 1996) planned a syllabus about the learning organization.He has covered six areas through which individuals can learn in the organizations. First is about the job of the individual, Second is about cultural alignment, Third is about up coming or future challenges, Fourth is about supply chains or operating environment, Fifth is about avoiding myopia and groupthink and last is about knowledge management and individual's ability to retain the knowledge.
(Cheng, 2009) Found that there are multiple benefits of transforming the organization to learning organization. One of the most significant benefits is that learning organization improves the continuous performance of the organization so that the gaps between organizational outcomes and customer needs could be diminished.
He said that learning organizations hold up innovative ideas, skills of the workforce and encourage community models for the gratification of their employees. According to (Prieto, 2009) continuous learning has two phases' internal environment and external environment and most of the trends imposing and being formed by a learning organization. It comprises growing up globally, market competition, customer-centric approach and strategies regarding cost minimization of the product. In form of increasing environmental complexity, organizations have need of proper monitoring and capabilities of transformation of information from one individual to another.
Learning process in Higher Education organizations:
Learning of the higher education organizations depends on the learning of the individuals. Whether they are students or faculty members learning acquire continuous efforts in changing behaviors, perceptions, values and norms. It is psychological phenomena of the individuals that they learn to see the others and that they learn from their experiences. In the same context learning process in higher education organizations revolves around the faculty members. Most of the students have their role models and they always try to adopt their behaviors, way of communication and their way of doing things and even how they look and how they respond. So there are two core factors which are so important for the individuals, motivation of the faculty members and their engagement in periodic trainings that transform higher education organizations into learning ones.
(O'Banian, 1997) Pointed that higher education organizations help out the learners to develop learning environment like study groups and learning communities for their students to foster the higher education organizations to learning organizations. According to (Kolb & Kolb, 2005) learning of the individuals depends on the interest of the individuals with fear and anxiety the learning of the individuals stops and there is no further learning. Moreover in context of higher education organizations, there are two major concepts organizational learning and the learning organization. Organizational learning is that organization that is existing organization and learning from their experiences while learning organization is that who is continuously striving for their best approaches.
Furthermore (A, Edmondson, & Gino, 2008) suggested that A learning organization focus on continuous effort and a series of generally distributed activities and it comprises on frequent experimentation, comparing performance, information collection about the stakeholders, analysis about the performance whether it is engaged in productive work or not, education training of the individuals and finally information transformation among the individuals and among the whole system of the organizations. In Addition (Rebelo & Gomes, 2008) found that learning is the essence of the organization therefore managers think without learning it is difficult to survive in future. According to (Marsick & Watkins, 2003) most of the organizations desire to identify the position of their organization that where do they situate, whether they are learning or not but it is little bit difficult to develop a learning culture.
Leadership that reinforce Higher Education organizations:
Leader's role in organization is like a Pilot and airplane. With a little mistake of pilot the airplane can crash and in the same context with a little mistake of leader the whole organization can face bankruptcy. So a skilled, conscious and visionary leader is very important for the organizations to keep it on learning track. Most of the leaders think that providing incentives to their employees, engaged them in excessive training, delivering superior services to their clients is sufficient to transform the organization into learning organization.
Moreover (A, Edmondson, & Gino, 2008) pointed out that behavior of the leader directly influence the organization admiration of their opinions, openness to new ideas, actively listen and respond to their subordinates and prompt solutions about the conflicts leads the other employees towards encouragement and learning. An excellent leadership can reinforce supportive learning environment and can create learning process in organization more effectively.