Learning OrganisationsDevelopment of Conceptual FrameworkIntroductionThe following section is a critical review of literature relevant to learning organisation such as its theoretical underpinning, attributes, and actual work practices of such organisation. The main purpose of this literature review is to identify ideas and aspects of learning organisations that can be used to construct a conceptual framework for future research. Sections 5 and 6 contain the details of the constructed conceptual framework along with discussions on the proposed method of research. The Learning OrganisationThe common view of a learning organisation is an organisation that is capable of constantly expanding its capacity, cultivating new ways of thinking, and takes in to account the value of systems thinking, personal mastery, shared vision, and team learning (Garcarz et al.
2003, p. 1). In other words, such organisation encourages learning from all levels with the purpose of developing competence, better or effective ways of working, promote innovation, and keep up with change. This is the same functional, irreproducible, conscious, dynamic and complex core competencies discussed by Drejer (2000, p. 12-15) contributing to high organisational performance. As a whole, they are the qualities of the organisation that enables supportive working environment, allow development and learning of new skills and knowledge (Griego et al.
2000, p. 10), and with managers that are very supportive and committed to the concept (Hodgkinson 2000, p. 165). Since learning itself occur continuously, developed, accelerated, and an “emergent property of the system” (Tosey & Smith 1999, p. 114) learning organisations may be viewed as those group of individuals deliberately developing individual and collective learning and aware of the quality of relationships that can sustain or diminish learning experience within them (McNiff & Whitehead 2000.
p. 67). Learning organisations to be precise are organisations with life of their own and by themselves is developing collective learning capability, linking business strategy and learning together, purposely learns for opportunities and threats, and constantly learning better ways to learn (Harrison 2005, p. 156). These organisations allow their members to access to their internal knowledge and skills repository, provide external learning programmes, monitoring and indentifying best practices (Logan & Sachs 1997, p. 35). Common Attributes of Learning OrganisationSince most businesses are aware of the reality that the faster they learn the more they will become competitive (Cross & Israelit 2000, Introduction), their common attributes in terms of learning can be described as proactive leadership, effective communication and the use of dialogue, organisational wide learning programmes, cross-functional and self-reliant teams, strategic, focused on transformation, well-structured for knowledge sharing, all members think systematically, responsive and innovative, flexible and adaptable to the environment, always oriented to grow and prosper, measure their success and failure, recognize the importance of new and external information for their business, and accepting business dilemma as realities of life (O’Keeffe 2006, p. 221; Triplett 2007, p. 61; Cohen & Levinthal 2000, p. 39; Sarlak 2010, p.
30; Mathison 2005, p. 144; Cheminais et al. 1998, p. 244; Marsick & Watkins 1999, p. 209). By analysis, learning organisations are characterised by their determination towards realization of common goals by “investing on people” (Greenhalgh 2006, p. 203). The common attributes discussed earlier are by themselves having commonality and interrelated functions. For instance, proactive leadership allow the use of dialogue resulting to effective communication while the orientation to grow and prosper makes individuals responsive and innovative.
Similarly, valuing internal and external information while providing a well-structured knowledge sharing environment contribute to systematic and self-reliant teams as well as reinforcing existing orientation for growth. Processes in learning organisations seems mutually complimenting each other in areas where management and employees interact. For instance, motivating employees to become responsive, innovative, and oriented to growth is not an easy task but since management is proactive and sharing their responsibilities and resources to the whole organisation, motivation becomes automatic. Similarly, since employees of these organisations are free to enhance their knowledge and skills (probably benchmarking their own performance also), and confident enough to think systematically, they transform from mere employees to agents of success.