Learning Organization

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According to Peter Senge (1990: 3) Learning organization are: “…organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together”. Senge argues that organizations should have the sort of culture which allows them to shape there own future to a far greater degree as been the case in the past. Organization must be constantly improving their performance and in order to do this both management and employees must be actively seeking ways in which they can improve performance. Pedler et al (1998). defines a learning organization as one that “facilitates learning of all its members and continuously transforms itself”.

Edgar Schein defines, “Culture is the deeper level of basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by members of an organization, that operate unconsciously and define in a basic ‘taken for granted’ fashion an organization's view of its self and its environment.” Organizational culture “is frequently described as a set of shared meanings that influence or determine behavior” (University of Sunderland Study Manual, HRM 325, pg. 446).

We shall now discuss the value to organizations in creating a learning organizational culture.

One of the most influential strategic models of a learning organization is the blueprint provided by Pedlar et al. (1991). Demonstrated in figure 6.3, pg. 319, University of Sunderland Study Manual, HRM 325. This model is reproduced in figure 1 below.

The knowledge and service mode of learning empowers an organization to improve their effectiveness systematically by making better products and providing better services. Learning is one of the essential keys to productivity in knowledge work. If we are not continuously and systematically learning, others are, and they will reach the goals we are aspiring to reach before we do.

Systematic organizational learning requires leaders to focus on all elements of the Corps culture. Strategic learning
occurs when top executive leaders create a dialogue about
values and goals with customers, stakeholders, and partners
and ask “How can USACE best help you succeed?”
They then align organizational strategy with this new learning

“Culture is the collective programming of the human mind that distinguishes the members of one human group from those of another. Culture in this sense is a system of collectively held values.” -- Geert Hofstede

Hofstede (1997) has devised a composite-measure technique to measure cultural differences among different societies:  Power distance index: The index measures the degree of inequality that exists in a society.  Uncertainty avoidance index: The index measures the extent to which a society feels threatened by uncertain or ambiguous situations.  Individualism index: The index measure the extent to which a society is individualistic. Individualism refers to a loosely knit social framework in a society in which people are supposed to take care of themselves and their immediate families only. The other end of the spectrum would be collectivism that occurs when there is a tight social framework in which people distinguish between in-groups and out-groups; they expect their in-groups (relatives, clans, organizations) to look after them in exchange for absolute loyalty.  Masculinity index (Achievement vs. Relationship): The index measures the extent to which the dominant values are assertiveness, money and things (achievement), not caring for others or for quality of life. The other end of the spectrum would be femininity (relationship).

Learning Organization Defined

The learning organization is "an organization which facilitates the learning of all its members and continuously transforms itself."8 Leveraging the Power of...
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