Organizational learning as the embedding of individual level learning

Essay add: 11-01-2017, 13:35   /   Views: 21

The term organizational learning is explained as the embedding of individual - and group - level learning in organizational structures and processes, achieved through reflecting on and modifying the typical standards/models and values embodied in established organizational processes and structures. (Innovation and Knowledge Management). Another way to illustrate the term is, organizational learning would be occurred when insights developed by an individual or group result in a systematic transformation of the organization's work values. However, it is not right to look at organizational learning as being simply the sum of individual and group learning processes (Vince, 2001). Thus, organizational learning should be showed up when there are impacts on organizational-level processes and structures that made by individual or group level leaning. Nevertheless, in order to achieve an effective organizational learninig, organizations must be able to face critical reflections on their existing norms and practices.

The learning processes at the individual, group, and organizational level are interrelated. The Crossan-Zietsma framework of organizational learning model has showed the characteristics of learning process at different levels. The framework was at the beginning devised by Crossan et al. (1999), but was usefully adjusted by Zietsma et al. (2002) with two additional action-based learning processes. In the framework, the six learning processes link the three levels of learning through two opposing dynamics: feed forward and feedback loops. The feed forward loop is also known as an exploration-based learning process, where it involves the development and taken in of new knowledge. It starts with individual-level learning, through intuition or attending, then builds to both group - and organization-level learning through interpretation, experimention, integration, and institutionalization processes. At the extreme edge, feedback loop is referred to an exploitation-based learning process, involves the utilization of existing knowledge, whereby institutionalized learning process directs and affects how groups and individuals behave.

The modified Crossan et al. model (from Zietsma et al. 2002)

One of the key issues in the Crossan-Zietsma framework is the stress between exploration and exploitation. The tension occurs due to the challenge and even substitution in institutionalized norms embedded in exploitation process that exploration may bring in. Since "learning that has become institutionalized at the organizational level is often difficult to change" according to Crossan et al. argue (1999), such tension is seriously potential. Further more, when institutionalized norms become powerful and dominant, say if they are successful, they can turn into "competency traps" where organizations become locked in previous succeeds and not noticing or effectively accounting for changed circumstances.

3.3 Organizational learning from two extreme perspectives: Visionaries and Sceptics (Friedman et al. 2001)

The visionaries or propagandists portrays the learning organization as an achievable deal in which both organizations and their employees benefit significantly through the learning processes. In contrast, the sceptics or pessimistic camp believe that despite the emancipatory rhetoric of the learning organization discourse, in fact it is likely to draw a way to make the power of management stronger and consequently lead to increased exploitation of control over employees, instead of self-development.

Some of the key issues which link the learning and knowledge management literatures such as power, the nature of the employment relationship, and trust.

3.4 The learning organization: the supporters' perspective

Pedler et al. (1997,3) refer the learning organization as an organization which facilitates the learning of all its members and consciously transforms itself and as well as its context. Also, in their learning organization framework, the organizational learnning is elaborated into eleven core characteristics.

Learnnig approach to strategy

Participative policy-making


Formative accounting and control

Internal exchange

Reward flexibility

Enabling structures

Boundary workers as environmental scanners

Intercompany learning

Learning climate

Self-development opportunities for all

The key point in this theory is that there is a common, positive synergy between the organizational context and the learning of its members in which the organizations support their staffs to learn and therefore the learning would contribute and sustain to the ongoing transformation of the organizational context. From all eleven characteristics of the Pedler et al. learning organization framework, employees benefit through such a working environment where levels of participation in major decisions are high, as well as their opinions are appreciated and thus there are opportunities for them to be creative and develop themselves. Further more, with such organizational learning perspective, a particular leadership style is required to be adopted. In this case, managers in learning organizations must be receivers as much as senders. In orther words, managers should actively encourage the learning of staffs as well as being sensitive and responsive to the staffs' opinions.

3.5 The learning organization: the sceptics' perspective

The critical arguments are filled into three broad areas such as the nature of the employment relationship, the need to account for power and how individual factors lead people's willingess to learn.

Commitment, trust, and employment relationship

Arguing with the visionaries, Coopey mentions that within the socio-economic contex of capitalism, workers are in a subordinate position to management as power is top down embedded in employment relationship. And such institutional arrangements create a "democratic deficit" where employees' ideas or voices is undeniably downplayed (Coopey 1998). Thus, in the same arguments, Coopey concludes that the vision of the learning organization, in which the employees can be self-developed and the organizations are well performed following, is an unachievable goal. There are two reasons to support Coopey's arguments. Firstly, necessary power for employees is unlikely addressed, which lead to the second reason that without such levels of empowerment, the level of trust and commitment to their organizations are also relatively low.

Power, politics, and learning

There are three factors relatively link to each other to show the linking power and politics to learning processes in organizations (Vince et al. 2002). Firstly, power and knowledge are interrelated. From Coopey's arguments, managerial authority relates to the inseparability of power and knowledge, where power of management is reflected in the exclusive of their knowledge, and vice versa. Next, the need to address power in learning processes relates to the embeddedness of power in the employment relationship. Finally, there are arguments that power and politics have to be accounted for as the lack of value agreement which exists in most organizations, as well as the potential of conflict and disagreement. Therefore, these arguments convince that learning organization practices have the potential to sustain and reinforce the power of management, instead of giving employees creativity and self-development.

Emotion and attitudes to leaning

At the individual level, learning can be considered to be exciting and positive as people explore new knowledge, also improve levels of understandin and develop more effective in ways of working. However, there is also a potential negative side since they have to give up their old/current patterns and embrace some level of uncertainty. That can be anxiety-inducing for people. Thus, learning may create confusion and conflicting emotions for people.

Consequently, the issues of power, politics, and emotion are intimately related.

4. The professional management of corporate knowledge:

According to Michael Gee and Monica C. Holmes from Central Michigan University (2001), Organizational Knowledge Management involves three steps:

Step 1: the creation of holding the information about the best practices, the knowledge of organizational, and the guide line of the expertise.

Step 2: then the new networks will be apply to transfer the information among the employees who contract directly with customers, create the new products or offer services to the customers.

Step 3: finally, organization will create the formal KM procedures to make sure that the learned lesson in the project or daily business are spread out among the employees to do the similar tasks.

4.1 Applying corporate knowledge management practices in higher education:

The appearing of the Lotus Notes represents for the first application of the KM. After the first one, the later version has the intranet - friendly: Web-bases platforms. It provides the current solution for search and retrieval, email, and collaboration. Then, the innovation of the KM application is: "the corporate portal which is a gateway that integrates collaborative tools, business intelligence and unstructured text search capabilities" (Jillinda J., Karen M. and Sandra L., 2000). Portals concept is one of the latest version which provides a search tool, new feeds, and links to favorite Websites, organized content by topic. This concept has been applied by some university. They use the web-based portals concept to spread out the integrated service, support for the central administration: institutional marketing, brand identity, building the relationship with students and their parents, provide the gateway for finding the information about university resources and programs, and provide the guide line for problem solving. Moreover, it also offers the sharing knowledge environment between teaching and learning. This portal will improve the efficiency of knowledge exchange then it provides the right for each faculty members to assess the current knowledge about teaching and learning among the campus of the university system.

4.2 KM encourages innovation:

Take Nokia is an example of the benefit of KM bring to the corporation. According to the report of Jillinda J., Karen M. and Sandra L. (2000), Nokia uses the KM practices to find out the need of the market and identify the market trends and customers requirement, then they quickly puts that knowledge into action in the research and development department to innovate the new products than they can launch the new mobile-phone every 25 days.

5. Conclusion:

To sum up, the organization has many benefit throughtout the knowledge management theory which is coming up with the best practice.By the way the KM which is shared among the coporation, it brings the best working environment for the employess as well as the highest productivity rate. By analyzing the KM life cycle; understand how the knowledge catured, codification, transfer and creation;the way the organization learn, the copration will apply successed KM.

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