CHAPTER 3 LITERATURE REVIEW
This chapter covers the relevant literature that was reviewed by the researcher in order to build up a framework for the study. The literature review focussed mostly on the recent studies that were conducted in the area under investigation with a focus on the research objectives, problems and sub problems being investigated by the researcher.
The literature review on learning organisations is vast. For the purposes of this study the researcher is going to firstly cover the general literature on learning organisations. The researcher will then go on to focus on literature which is more specific to the main factors she has chosen to measure learning maturity in organisations. The concept of learning organisations was popularised by Peter Senge. Senge (1990) is considered by most to be the “father” of organizational learning (Dumaine, 1994). Senge is a director at Innovation Associates, a Cambridge consulting firm, and advises government and educational leaders in centres of global change like South Africa. Senge’s message of growth and prosperity holds strong appeal for today’s business leaders. His research centre at MIT (write in full), the Centre for Organizational Learning, started in 1990, has 18 corporate sponsors, including AT&T, Ford, Motorola, and Federal Express. Each contributes $80,000 a year to create learning organization pilot programs with the help of Senge and his colleagues.
The learning organization concept gained broad recognition when Senge published his bestselling book, The Fifth Discipline in 1990. In it he writes that a learning organization values, and derives competitive advantage from, continuing learning, both individual and collective. The five disciplines are systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, shared vision, and team learning (Senge, 1990). Senge proposes that people put aside their old ways of thinking (mental models), learn to be open with others (personal mastery), understand how their company really works(systems thinking), form a plan everyone can agree on (shared vision), and then work together to achieve that vision (team learning).None of these concepts are new, but Senge created something new and powerful by putting them together. Unfortunately, at first glance these ideas can seem ambiguous As a result, only a small percentage of the huge number of people who bought the book have read it, and only a small percentage of those have carried out its ideas (Dumaine, 1994). To make the learning organization more accessible to seasoned managers, Senge and several co-consultants published The Fifth Discipline Field book, a more “hands-on” work. (And also this paragraph)
The Field book explains that anyone who wants to be part of a learning organization must first go through a personal change (Senge, Kleiner et al., 1994). This means that if some members of the group like to tell people what to do and are too busy to listen, they must be willing to change themselves. Senge and his colleagues consult with organizations, where they teach an elaborate set of personal-awareness exercises with names like dialogue, the container, and the ladder of inference. Once you have “shifted your personal paradigm,” Senge says, you must master something called systems thinking, a scientific discipline that helps you understand how organizations work. “The outsider, faced with such a formidable field to master, might ask, Why bother? Senge argues that the very future of the planet hangs in the balance (Dumaine, 1994).” This comment reflects Senge’s interest in tackling issues like overpopulation, hunger, and the environment, and his commitment to a personal life that reflects these professional ideals.
Definition of a Learning Organization
Smith, E. S. (2006) in the Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Management Volume IX on Human Resources Management, defines learning, most fundamentally as the process of acquiring knowledge or skill. The underlying process is “thinking” which includes observing facts and integrating them into valid conclusions. According to Senge, (1990) he defines a learning organisation as a group of people who are continually enhancing their capabilities to create what they want to create has been deeply influential. He views these organisations as organisations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new
and expansive patterns of thinking are natured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together, the basic rationale for such organisations is that in situations of rapid change only those that are flexible, adaptive and productive will excel. For this to happen it is argued that organisations, organisations need to discover how to tap people‘s commitment and capacity to learn at all levels. According to Senge (1990), while people have the capacity to learn, the structures in which they have to function are often not conducive to reflection and engagement. Furthermore, people may lack the tools and guiding ideas to make sense of the situations they face. Organisations that are continually expanding their capacity to create their future require a fundamental shift of mind among their members.
According to Gavin (1993), a learning organisation is an organisation skilled at creating, acquiring and transferring knowledge, and at modifying its behaviour to reflect new knowledge and insights. Nonaka (1991) goes further to characterize a learning (or a knowledge–creating) organisation as one where inventing new knowledge is not a specialized activity, “it’s a way of behaving, indeed, a way of being, in which everyone is a knowledge worker”. The primary tasks of a learning organisation are therefore to create and apply knowledge. According to Senge, (1990), a learning organisation represents a significant evolution of organisational culture – a culture that encourages and rewards the application of new learning. In addition to a continuous improvement culture, a learning organisation must also have structures that foster cross disciplinary team work, collaboration and learning (Kiernan, 1993). According to Gavin (1993), a learning organisation must be skilled at systematic problem solving, experimentation, learning from its own experiences and from past history, learning from the experiences and best practices of others, and transferring knowledge quickly and efficiently throughout the organisation.
Ratner (1997) defines a learning organization as “one in which people at all levels, individually and collectively, are continually increasing their capacity to produce results they really care about.” She describes Senge’s The Fifth Discipline Field book as “one of the most powerful set of tools for examining our assumptions.” Levine’s 2001 article “Integrating Knowledge and Process in a Learning Organization” describes the similarities between technology change management(TCM) and learning organizations. She describes a learning organization as one in which:
The organization remembers and learns
•Public recording is unobtrusive and useful in the execution of work processes and decision-making.
•Principles and concepts may refer to a group, an organizational unit(s), or a community, suggesting notions of scalability and tailoring.
•The notion of learning is different from the additive sum of individual contributions (the whole is more than the sum of its parts).
•Learning is applied to produce or modify individual dispositions, policies, processes, and procedures. She also lists several compelling reasons for promoting organizational learning:
•About 70 percent of business efforts in process reengineering efforts or redesigns fail.
•Work groups in the 21st century will manage change in dynamic situations.
•Traditional management constructs are incompatible with the collaborative development approach for new technologies.
The Concept of a Learning Organization
The concept of the learning organization is often perceived as being difficult to disentangle from the related concept of organizational learning. The concept of organizational learning dates back at least thirty (30) years (Levine, 2001). What is interesting is that the learning organization approach has a kind of “staying power,” to quote Linda Levine. “Researchers and practitioners have written about this for decades, and yet issues debated in the field twenty (20) or so years ago bear a striking resemblance to those still debated today,” she writes. This is no surprise given the advice of Redding (Year) to recognize that “the learning organization is an ideal” and no pure one exists. These issues of cooperation and integration reflect issues that are part of our humanity, which Wheatley proposes can evolve if more people promote integration. A learning organization is “an organization that is continually expanding its capacity to create its future. For such an organization, it is not enough to merely survive. ‘Survival learning’ or what is more often termed ‘adaptive learning’ is important – indeed it is necessary. But for a learning organization, ‘adaptive learning’ must be joined by ‘generative learning,’ learning that enhances our capacity to create.” It is no longer possible for CEOs and managers to take in enough knowledge to make decisions, according to McElya (2002). “Through use of knowledge management and valuation of intellectual capital, learning organizations become much more effective,” he explains. Some see organizational learning as offering the holistic advantage of promoting competitive advantage and employee happiness at once (Gephart, Marsick et al., 1996).
Differences between Organizational Learning and the Learning organization
The paper looks at what the essential differences between the ‘organizational learning’ and the ‘learning organization’ perspectives are. Why Learning and Development practitioners need these concepts as part of their professional knowledge and practice.
Poell (2003) criticizes the concept of the learning organization on two principal grounds: (a) the neglect of issues of organizational power; (b) a restricted view of learning and work. The former has been dealt with elsewhere (Ortenblat 2002; Contu et al. 2003). Poell drew specific attention to the view that within the learning organization field the notion of working that lends itself most easily to the prescription is that of team working, but clearly work is organized in other ways (individual, inter-organizational and so forth), hence there may be an assumption that most work is team-based. Also it is not always clear exactly how the laudable aspirations contained in the prescriptions might be implemented.
The learning organization ideally assumes that all workers will be able and willing to find their own learning route and will be self-motivated self-developers. The question is what to do if workers are not Willing to learn continuously, to innovate and double-loop learn on an ongoing basis, to be responsible for their own development and share their knowledge (which may be their own source of competitive advantage in the internal labour market) with colleagues (Poell, 2003). Individuals’ knowledge assets may be organization specific and person specific. So in times of uncertainty and downsizing individuals may take decisions about the extent to which they are willing to surrender these assets. This may be influenced by the employment relationship. For example, where there is a strong reciprocal alignment of organizational and employee interests this may create the motivational basis for employees to learn in ways that play an role in the longer-term devel-opment of the business (see Boxall and Purcell 2003: 146). By way of a conclusion, some of the limitations of the learning organization concept may be summarized as follows:
•There is reinvention and duplication across models with no real attempt at theoretical convergence;
•The prescriptive nature of the discourse means that it may be seen as a recipe for success and, on the basis of much of the rhetoric, a panacea for a wide range of organizational problems and development issues.
Ford et al , (2000). What is sometimes lost sight of in discussions of the learning organization and its implementation is the role – and in some cases the debilitating nature of the role – that the internal context can play in determining the success or otherwise of planned interventions designed to foster organizational learning. For example, ‘engineering cultures’ are often perceived to have more of a ‘harder’ technology focus than a ‘softer’ people focus. Furthermore, the balance amongst the various competing cultures within a single organization can also play an important role and create tensions in the arena of organizational learning. In this regard Ford et a1. report attempts to transform a high-technology engineering company in the USA into a learning organization.
CHAPTER 1 ORIENTATION
1.1 CONTEXT OF THE STUDY
1.2 PURPOSE AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
1.3 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
1.4 PROBLEM STATEMENT AND SUB‐PROBLEMS
1.5 DELIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
1.6 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
1.7 IMPORTANCE OF THE STUDY
1.9 OUTLINE OF THE RESEARCH
CHAPTER 2 BACKGROUND AND FOUNDATION OF THE STUDY
2.2 ANALYSIS ON BANCABC
2.3 PORTER’S FIVE FORCES FRAMEWORK OF ENVIRONMENTAL SCANNING
2.4 HUMAN CAPITAL AND LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT STRUCTURE
2.5 BANCABC LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES AND STRATEGY
CHAPTER 3 LITERATURE REVIEW
3.1 CHAPTER OVERVIEW
3.3 DEFINITION OF A LEARNING ORGANIZATION
3.4 THE CONCEPT OF A LEARNING ORGANIZATION
3.5 DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ORGANIZATIONAL LEARNING AND THE LEARNING ORGANIZATION
3.6 CHARACTERISTICS OF A LEARNING ORGANIZATION
3.7 OTHER CHARACTERISTICS OF LEARNING ORGANIZATIONS
3. 8 FACTORS INFLUENCING LEARNING IN ORGANIZATIONS
3.9 LEADERSHIP AND LEARNING ORGANIZATIONS
3.10 DETERMINING THE LEVEL OF MATURITY OF A LEARNING ORGANIZATION
3.11 THE LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT CORE COMPETENCE OF AN ORGANIZATION
3.12 PERSPECTIVES FROM DIFFERENT SCHOLARS ON ORGANISATION LEARNING AND ORGANISATIONAL BEHAVIOUR
3.13 TODAY’S APPROACHES FOR BUILDING LEARNING ORGANIZATIONS
CHAPTER 4 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
4.2 RESEARCH DESIGN.
4.3 RESEARCH PURPOSE
4.4. RESEARCH METHOD
4.5 POPULATION AND SAMPLE
4.6 RESEARCH INSTRUMENT (ANNEXE B)
4.7 DATA SOURCES AND COLLECTION METHODS
4.8 DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION
4.9 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
CHAPTER 5 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
5.2 SAMPLE DESCRIPTIONS
5.3 KNOWLEDGE OF A LEARNING ORGANISATION
5.4 LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT
5.5 LEARNING VERSUS TRAINING
5.6 LEARNING CLIMATE AND TRUST IN THE ORGANIZATION
5.7 ABILITY TO EXPRESS VIEW POINTS AND IDEAS FREELY IN THE ORGANIZATION
5.8 FLEXIBILITY AND ADAPTABILITY OF THE ORGANISATION TO CURRENT BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT
5.9 LESSONS FROM THE PAST FOR A LEARNING ORGANISATION SUCH AS BANCABC
5.10 ADAPTING TO CHANGES IN THE ENVIRONMENT AND LEADERSHIP’S REACTION TO RISKS
5.11 LEARNING IN THE BANK: PERCEPTION, VISION AND STRATEGY AND PRIORITIES
CHAPTER 6 RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSION
6.3 AREAS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
The extent to which organisations in Zimbabwe are learning organisations.