The Definition Of Learning Organisation
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Published: Mon, 24 Apr 2017
This research study is focused upon identifying the need and exploring the level of its intensity for career development of employees and its inherent linkage with the success of a business organization such as Pad & Co Ltd. It is a comparative study whereby the difference in attitude of the organizations as whole towards career development of the individuals has been studied. This study considers the difference in the significance and the commitment attached to the individuals’ career development and its incorporation into the Human Resource Processes and procedures by the company following different types of management styles. This study investigates such career related attitudes, values and commitment in two different contexts, i.e., Learning Organization and Conventional Organization.
The model of this study focuses on long-term strategy of organizational development (OD) that could be achieved through the development of the employees’ careers. In this respect two major strategies of OD have been studied that are considered to be integral part of the processes going on in organizations that claim to qualify as learning organizations. Based on this fact, this study assumes that practicing such strategies causes the development of their staff.
This research analyzes the supportive role of Learning Organization towards the employees careers while it moving towards the final stage of development. For this purpose the impact of two of such OD strategies. Improvement of Quality of Output and Human Resource Development for sustainability of Organization, have been selected in the context of Learning Organization. These two strategies have been taken as Independent Variables for the study. The relationship of these two variable strategies with the dependent variable i.e. Career Development is considered to be direct, as these contribute directly towards the process of career development of individuals.
2. LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 DEFINITION OF LEARNING ORGANISATION
Much more emphasis is made upon Learning Organisation due to increased pace of change. One of the origins of Learning Organisation (LO) comes from Shell Company where Aries de Geus illustrates learning as being a major sustainable competitive edge for achieving success. The phenomenon of globalization has turned the business world into a global dynamic village for business exchanges. Indeed, competition is becoming increasingly fiercer and simultaneously using Learning Organization as a strategy has become a MUST for companies’ success and development. Adopting such strategy helps organizations to innovate and acquire knowledge in order to survive and thrive in the current rapid changing environment.
Some key definitions by distinguished writers on Learning Organisation are as follows:
“The essence of organizational learning is the organisation’s ability to use the amazing mental capacity of all its members to create the kind of processes that will improve its own”- Nancy Dixon (1994)
“A Learning Organisation is one that consciously manages its learning processes through an inquiry-driven orientation among all its members”- Kim D. (1992)
“A Learning company is an organization that facilitates the learning of all its members and continually transforms itself”- M. Pedley, J. Burgoyne and Tom Boydell (1991)
“Organisations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire when new and expensive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to learn together”- Peter Senge (1990)
Learning Organisation is achieving a significant importance nowadays and most modern companies is widely applying this concept to allow them achieved sustainable growth and development.
What are the origins of the “Learning Organisation” approach? Who helped in implementing this approach? There do have some great authors who are known as the founders of Learning Organisation. Their views, theories and practices greatly helped in understanding and implementing the concept of Learning Organisation in many successful companies.
2.1.1 Peter Michael Senge
Peter Michael Senge, born in 1947 and graduated in engineering from Stanford completed his PhD on Management. Peter Senge is considered as the “Strategist of the Century” by the Journal of Business Strategy has a specific vision of Learning Organisation. He actually used to see Learning Organisation as a company whose people continually enrich their knowledge and capabilities in order to improve themselves and create a better work environment where they can subsequently reach for personal development. The emergence of Peter Senge’s book the “Fifth Discipline” after his studies of the business environment at Massachusetts Institue of Technology (MIT) provides a greater public interest to the concept of Learning Organisation. The principal interest of Peter Senge is to encourage delegation in the leadership approach of companies to improve employees’ aptitudes and being more applied in working towards goals and objectives of the company as well as their own personal goals. Peter Senge is also the co-founder chair of the Society for Organisational Learning (SoL)- a non-profit membership organization involving f worldwide researchers, corporations and consultants committed in finding out, incorporating and applying theories and practices for the interdependent development of people and their institutions. The SoL works at attracting community sponsorship to support pilot projects that hold relatively idealistic concerns.
The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook published by Peter Senge and other colleagues which is a further practical work explains that any person who desires to be part of a learning organization should begin with a personal change. He argues that if in a group there are members who only tell others what to do and not to do without listening to others’ requests; those members ought to be keen to change themselves.
Peter Senge identifies five essential disciplines which are supposed to be converging for the improvement of learning organizations namely systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, building shared vision and team learning. He proposes that people forget about their old ways of thinking (mental models), gain knowledge while learning with others (personal mastery), be aware of how their organization actually works (system thinking), create a plan which everyone consent (shared vision), and subsequently do a mutual work to reach that vision (team learning).
2.1.2 Donald Alan Schön
Born in 1930 and graduated from Yale in 1951, Donald A. Schön obtained his master’s and doctoral degrees in philosophy at Harvard University. Died on 13th September 1997, he is remembered for his concern with the development of philosophical application and learning systems within companies. Donald A. Schön co-authored Theory in Practice and Organisational Learning in association with Chris Argyris. Schön’s works are still having an important impact on the conceptualization of organizational learning. With The Stable State, we can examine his concern about professional learning, learning processes in organizations, and with developing critical and self-reflecting practice.
Donald Schön’s theory has helped in several debates concerning the so called “learning society”. He argues that with the span of free time and the rapidity of environment change which surrounds us, the “learning society” should aim at people continuously require education. He wanted to evaluate to which extent businesses, social organizations and government can be described as “learning systems”. He persists on the fact that “learning systems” is a necessity for all organizations nowadays.
In collaboration with Chris Argyris, Donald Schön works on learning systems regarding qualified effectiveness and organizational learning. They argue that there is a hole between theory and action and people do have mind maps concerning how to operate in different circumstances which include the way they plan, apply and review what they did.
2.1.3 Chris Argyris
Chris Argyris, born on 16th July 1923, obtained an MA in Psychology and Economics at Kansas University in 1949 and a Ph.D. in Organisational Behaviour at Cornell University in 1951. He is currently the director of the Monitor Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Argyris is plaised for publishing original ideas about how learning can develop organizational growth & development success. His first research was basically on the influence of proper organizational structures, control systems and management upon people. He then concentrates himself upon organization changes particularly regarding the behaviour of superiors.
While working with Donald Schön, Argyris at first analyzed three main concepts which are governing variables, action strategies and consequences. Governing variables are proportions that individuals are likely to keep within reasonable limits while action strategies are actions to be taken to keep governing variables within acceptable range. Furthermore during their study, Argyris and Schön’s focal point was on three fundamentals specifically learning systems, double-loop and single-loop organization learning and the relationship of reflection-in-action to professional activity.
Double-loop learning consists learning that confronts the status quo while routine learning is considered as single-loop learning. Argyris argues that double-loop learning is concerned about resolving complicated problems. Transparency helps to discuss and establish the truth more obviously and it depends on employees’ dedication to seek truth and accept personal responsibility at their place of work. While for single-loop learning, it is argued that individuals are used to approve transparency and truth only when their reputation is not at stake.
2.2 CHARACTERISTICS OF LEARNING ORGANISATION
Research identifies three characteristics of learning organization that are Learning Culture, Tools and Techniques and Skills and Motivation.
Learning Culture refers to an organisational environment that nurtures learning. These organisations opt for understanding of their business climate while using internal and external sources and advisors. A Learning Culture develops a free exchange and flow of information within the organization thus encouraging innovation. With the help of systems, expertise and knowledge is readily available allowing employees to be up-to-date. With the support of the top management, employees are more committed to their tasks, they are encouraged to learn and thus achieve personal development. While adopting a learning culture, organizations show concern about their employees. Encouraging them to learn and developing their capabilities is meanwhile valuing employees to progress and achieve efficiency. Organisations also open doors for more creative ideas and more challenges. Employees feel free to explain their ideas. A learning culture consists of the organization being future oriented, encouraging exchange and flow of information, dedicate to learning and personal development, valuing employees, offering people a climate of trust and giving the possibility to learn from experience.
Tools and techniques are concerned about ways that support individual and team learning. This can refer to creativity and problem solving practices. Examples of tools and techniques that can be used to encourage learning are interviews to seek for information, creativity to brainstorm and gain new ideas, delegation of decision making, observation from possible outcomes, reframing knowledge, communication across borders, understanding people wants and needs and supporting others at work.
Skills and motivation consists of means that management could adopt to encourage learning within the organization. A learning organization is one that shows concern to employees and supports its people in learning new skills and techniques. Motivating people is very important in encouraging people to learn. It can be either through financial or non-financial motivations.
2.3 BENEFITS OF LEARNING ORGANISATIONS
There are several challenges faced by organisations nowadays in their business environment and promoting learning organization can help them to confront them. Changes at place of work is arising constantly and adopting new strategies and techniques can be difficult for workers therefore being a learning organization will allow the organization to get ahead this stage more easily as in a learning organization, changes are perceived as opportunities to learn about new developments and enrich employees’ knowledge.
Producing what customers want is crucial for all businesses and with the constant change in taste of customers, companies need to be very pro-active and apply frequent changes to the whole organization. Learning organization will ensure that strategic coordination is kept between resource allocations, organizational goals and objectives, individual learning and customer need.
Training is often seen as a cost for companies and sending workers on training is relatively considered as time wastage. Learning organization can search for other alternative strategies for the workforce to learn at their workplace and this type of learning is much more appreciated by either top management or staff and is effective and cost less for the company.
Learning is both individual and social. Learning organization also gives room for personal development. It generates in the company permanent learning prospects. The workforce is continuously encouraged to learn thus avoiding employees being reluctant to change and they will be keen at learning new things. Learning organization also encourages inquiry and dialogue which gives rise to employees working altogether in good working conditions.
Collaboration and team learning is also one of the numerous benefit of learning organization as it focuses a lot on group work and team spirit. Employee will learn how to act as a team and work in groups. Learning organization institute systems to retain people and share learning. It empowers employees toward a share vision.
2.4 LIMITATIONS FACING LEARNING ORGANISATIONS
Learning Organisations are progressively being more accepted by worldwide businesses as they are supposed to encourage people to work more efficiently and effectively. The concept of learning organization gives rise to a better work environment where workforce has the possibility to share information and incessantly learn together.
However learning organizations are also criticized and there are opinions such as Finger and Woollis (1994) which argues that learning organizations see its people as “resources” can that exploited for business’ interests. Learning is often perceived as a instrument for competitive benefit for the organization. One of the main disagreement concerning learning organizations is “whose interests are mainly taken into consideration and being served?” There are several limitations facing the learning organization namely
The organization as a site and frame for learning
The dominant role of managers and educators
The subordinate role accorded to employees as undifferentiated learner-in-deficit
The emphasis on problem-solving and instrumental knowledge
The organization;s appropriation of critical reflection
The reliance in “open” dialogue for group learning in the workplace.
2.5 HOW DOES LEARNING ORGANISATION SUPPORTS GROWTH DEVELOPMENT
Learning organization supports growth and development by promoting:
“Creating a Learning Project Environment”- This article by Deane, Clark et al (1997) points out whether project results meet up consumer needs and it also gives a model that allows managers evaluate and narrow these gaps and promote a continuous enhancement cycle.
Furthermore learning organization provides for a better working environment where people can work freely with the hope that things can be improved. It allows employees to continually improve themselves both individually and socially and encourages a continuous improvement in the company either on behalf of the management or the employees.
Innovation is perceived as a process of knowledge conception and the speed and direction of knowledge creation reproduces the organizational set-up of the firm as well as its investments in research and development and training. Learning organization is also known for promoting innovation and creativity. It gives room for creative ideas while the opinion of everyone in the organization is valued.
Dori Digenti’s paper (1998), “Towards an Understanding of the Learning Organisation”, merges the emotional and intellectual learning desired to break throughout defensive practices and spot effective learning performance. The learning community is seen through three lenses which include the vision and the attributes, the pro-social behaviors which form an institution for learning and managing and lastly the cognitive skills built through community learning. The learning organization cultivates a vision of completeness and by bringing one’s whole self to the organization, the learning community contributes to the happiness of the employees and the employers are better seen by their staff.
2.6 LEARNING TAKES PLACE IN LEARNING ORGANISATION
Learning takes place either consciously or unconsciously. It is viewed as a process of acquiring new, or modifying existing knowledge, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information through experiences, studies and being taught. Human beings, animals and some machines possess the ability to learn which is not compulsory but mostly contextual.
There are different types of learning and the three main ones are Visual Learning, Auditory Learning and Tactile Learning. Visual learners are those who learn through visual techniques of communication. They learn through diagrams, charts, visual presentations and take notes of what is being presented. Those learners are those who are able to absorb information obtained through visual methods and have the capacity to create their own graphics and charts.
Auditory learning is for learners who are best able to understand information through lectures and other verbal techniques of communication. Written notes or information do not really make sense for them until the information is being verbally explained to them. Auditory learners study new information and skills while listening. Whilst learning, the auditory learners are very attentive to the tone of voice and the speed of the teacher/lecturer- the person who is explaining the new information. Those learners benefit a lot from recordings
Often known as “kinesthetic” learners, tactile learners are those people who mostly learn while completing the actual work. Tactile learning involves a hands-on approach to learning. Those people learn best while mastering new skills and taking part in experiences and experiments. However tactile learners might undergo a short attention span which will make learning new skills a bit difficult except they take the practical approach.
Learning organisations need to know in which category their employees fall when it comes to learning so as to be able to make them learn effectively and absorb new information and skills at the first time and thus avoiding time wastage and repetition while learning. Organisations need to know the appropriate methods of learning for their staff to choose the best study technique and lessen the amount of reviewing.
There are several personality questions where organizations can determine it which learning style their workforce falls and which kind of learning is more applicable for them to learn best and take in most of the information given. Throughout tests, observations, guidance counselors learning organizations are able to settle on which category of learning style to adopt with its employees for them to be more receptive towards learning.
We learn at any age-people spend hours at learning. They learn for self-improvement. Learning is essential to improve knowledge and skills. There is no age to stop learning; it is a continual process which helps to enrich and develop ourselves. The environment and the other individuals in our surroundings increase our motivation to learn. While learning, people do not only get intellectual or material benefits, they do also get psychological or emotional benefits namely pleasure satisfaction and self-esteem. Learning aids to impress others and to receive praises and gain recognition among others.
2.6.1 LEARNING AS A STRATEGY FOR BUSINESS SUCCESS
A business strategy consists of the moves and approaches devised by management to produce successful organization performance. A successful strategy is the management’s action plan to attract and satisfy its customers, to run its operations, to compete successfully against rival firms and to achieve organizational objectives and targets. A good business strategy is important to proactively shape how a company’s business will be conducted, to mold the independent actions and decisions of managers and employees into coordinated company-wide plan and to chart the company’s direction. A good strategy in addition to a good strategy execution results in good management.
Organisation who is willing to implement the learning organization concept, will need an overall strategy with goals and objectives clearly targeted. Once those goals and objectives are well established, the strategic tools that will be recommended will then be set normally by the management. Gaining strategic advantage in today’s business climate is not an easy task. Organisational learning strategies are plans by which knowledge is spread through an organization.
The more experienced employees in all different departments of the company, needs to share their knowledge with new ones and with whose who needs to be taught. A strategic organizational learning plan gives rise to several channels of communication and allows all departments of the business to gain knowledge.
Learning development is an organizational strategy which conveys employees’ competencies, skills and capabilities necessary to guarantee a successful and sustainable growth development for organizations. Being a learning organization will help businesses and their employees to easily to adapt to changes and to work more effectively.
2.7 THE ROLE OF HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT IN LEARNING ORGANISATION
Being a learning organization is essential tool for businesses to attain goals and objectives of the company and consequently achieving success. At this juncture, an efficient strategic human resource management plays a decisive role. A strategic human resource management brings into line the general business strategy. By taking into consideration the overall objectives of the company, the Human Resource Manager is able to take decisions about what kind of learning to be given to the different levels of employees.
The approach of Human Resource Management (HRM) strategy should generally reflect the employees’ learning and aptitude development strategy within the organisation. HR Managers should analyse the motivation needed for each employee to encourage learning in their companies. There are categories of workers at different levels who have contrasting needs and wants. They can be motivated differently and managers need to know how to motivate their staff to learn new skills and techniques of doing their work. Learning Organisation can be an effective strategy for business success if strategies for learning are well planned by the HR manager and the latter is in capacity to avoid people from being reluctant to learn and changes.
2.7.1 How HRM motivate people to learn
HR managers can motivate people in organization to learn and work well for the success of the company through the reward strategy. It puts in line the aspects of non-financial and financial employee reward package. Non-financial rewards include valuing employee engagement in terms of career development opportunities and promotion facilities. Motivation is the desire of getting things done quickly and correctly. It results from the person’s requirements to achieve goals and objectives and to satisfy needs and wants. The best-motivated employees readily to learn and adopt changes will give the possibility to their organization to reach for goals and objectives as cost effectively as possible. Managers should identify what kind of motivation to develop for employees and help them to achieve their own objectives while working towards that of the company. Unmotivated workers are reluctant to learn and they do not execute their work effectively.
Moreover there are several famous theories of motivation which can be useful to managers to encourage learning in their orgnisations namely, F.W. Taylor and scientific management, Elton Mayo and the human relations theories and Maslow and the hierarchy of human needs.
F.W. Taylor (1856-1917) is the first theorist who have seriously analyse motivation of people to help organization management to increase employees’ performance and productivity. His approach known as “scientific management” is still used in the modern business world. He studies and records performance of people at work through an hypothesis. Taylor aims at reducing workers’ inefficiency in manufacturing industries thus increasing productivity gains between employers and employees.
In the twentieth century, he emphasizes his theory on reducing unqualified and non-specialized staff who was weakly led by supervisors and without proper training. Taylor’s scientific approach can help companies in becoming efficient learning organizations while encouraging workers to learn and perform their tasks well, to train them when necessary and supervise them to ensure that work is done in the best way. His study demonstrates that workers are driven to learn and work well and gives much more effort when being motivated by money
Elton Mayo (1880-1949) is well-known for his “Hawthorne Effect” conclusions. Throughout the several experiments performed at the Hawthorne Factory of Western Electric Co. in Chicago, his colleagues and he based themselves on the probability that working conditions might be a source of workers’ motivation. Examples of those working conditions are lighting, heating and rest periods among others. However the researches find out that change in working conditions and financial rewards has the least effect upon workers’ productivity. Workers are much more motivated when there is interaction between the management and the employees and when the employers take into consideration their interests during decision making. Elton Mayo’s study has also demonstrated that working in groups and building team spirit is sure to develop productivity and a good motivational result is to allow workers organize themselves over some decisions on their own working life
Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) theory is concerned about finding out what are the principal needs of human needs. Maslow argues that needs determine actions-people are motivated to work well to reach for their needs. He interprets a hierarchy of need for people to become more productive and satisfied consisting of 5 distinct levels which are self-actualisation, esteem needs, social needs, safety needs and physical needs. He suggests that people those five needs are being satisfied are those who will effectively words towards the goals set by their companies. Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:
5th Level: Self-Actualisation-Reaching for one’s full potential.
4th Level: Esteem Needs- Respect from others, status recognition of achievement.
3rd Level: Social Needs-Trust, acceptance, friendship, social facilities.
2nd Level: Safety Needs- Protection from threats, job security, health & safety at work.
1st Level: Physical Needs- Food, Shelter, Water, Rest.
3. COMPANY PROFILE- Phil Alain Didier Company Ltd (PAD & Co. Ltd)
Situated at Riche-Terre and established in 1976 by Mr. Philippe Hao Thyn Voon, PAD & Co. Ltd was incorporated in 1987. PAD & Co. Ltd is Construction Company those main early years were committed to construction of utility pipelines and electrical power network. It was upon those construction works that the company developed its reputation and its competitiveness along with the determined effort of its employees which help out for sustaining consistent and steady growth. The company is actually registered as a Grade A Contractor for Building and Civil Engineering works and has been licensed in 2002 to ISO 9001:2000.
The corporate philosophy of PAD & Co. Ltd is to aim at innovation and achieving excellence. Its management system which works at improving consumer’s satisfaction by offering qualified services, has given the opportunity to PAD & Co. Ltd to recently obtain some great projects namely the construction of Cybercity Tower II, the Thermal Power Stations in St-Louis and Rodrigues, utility underground networks and government housing units and schools across the country.
PAD & Co. Ltd’s vision for the future is development and growth together with integrated considerations such as the welfare of its employees including health and safety and the community, social responsibility and respect of the environment. The company is structured with the Board of Directors at the top, following by a well established senior executive team including the General Manager, the Operations Manager, the Accounts Manager, the Contracts Manager, the Business Unit Manager, the Site Manager, the Security Manager, the Workshop Manager and the Procurement & Purchasing Manager. A self-motivated staff assists the senior executive team which consists of head of departments, engineers, technical staff, administrative staff, local workers and expatriates workers.
A dynamic staff, a good team spirit among employees and an effective communication channel help the company to achieve success and build up the its competitiveness in the industry. The company has its own workshop for maintenance. Moreover there are vehicles, plant and equipment owned by the company and used on a day-to-day basis namely crawler excavators and backhoe loaders, tower fix cranes, asphalt recycler & cutters, dumpers and tractors and so on.
PAD & Co. Ltd engages to
Combine effective project management and a highly skilled staff to provide the highest quality civil engineer contracting services to its esteemed customer.
Guarantee that the site work is designed, supervised, executed, and recorded too show that contractual requirements are consistently meet
Work together with all those who are directly and indirectly inconvenienced by Pad & Co’s construction works to find alternative and suitable solutions.
Abide with constitutional and legal requirements of the building and civil engineering industry.
Fully engage its respected suppliers in the work implementation process so as to supply its services in a timely manner.
Appropriately train employee to boost them on a continuous basis.
Ensure that this quality policy is evaluated on a regular basis so that it effectively provides as the basis for defining the quality objectives of the enterprise in line with its policy for continuously improving customer satisfaction.
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