Notwithstanding the abundance of literature on organizational learning, learning organizations and capability development, a vital need remains to integrate managerial theory and practice (Denton 1998). Managers seeking practical guidance on developing organizational learning that is theoretically robust-beyond training and development ideas-must negotiate a maze of academic and professional literature that ranges from highly abstract pieces conceptualizing learning, to systems-oriented discussions of effective learning strategies, and finally, articles offering handy hints and tips and tools. The references following this article include several that illustrate one or more of these approaches, particularly Rylatt (1994), Waddell et al (2000), Dixon (1992), Easterby-Smith (1990), Stata (1989), Schein (1993), and Denton (1998).
Studies of organizational learning (a term often used interchangeably with 'learning organizations' in the literature) continue to observe that the concepts are poorly defined, poorly understood, and poorly applied. See the reference list for literature that addresses these problems, including Lang and Wittig-Berman (2000); Dunphy, Turner, and Crawford (1996); and Garvin (1993). No wonder managers become cynical about so-called transformational human resource management strategies that are suppose to contribute to competitive advantage in a knowledge era. For example, the HR professional seeking to implement an organizational learning strategy may find only frustration unless line managers can apply the underlying meanings and concepts to the business realities she or he faces. A model of organizational learning as a system of inputs, processes and outputs, where there are some dozen potential key processes (each of which is itself a sub-system, such as team-based learning) and a payoff that, at best, is in t he future and, at worst, is poorly articulated, is unlikely to command either attention or respect. It is also disappointing, though perhaps not surprising, that a survey of managers' sources of information on organizational learning found that academic sources were totally absent from the responses (Denton 1998).
This paper assists in bridging the gap by suggesting a practical approach to workplace learning that is linked with organizational objectives and integrated with project management. HRM practitioners, in partnership with line managers and senior managers, may apply this approach.
This paper has two parts. Part A suggests a model for project-based workplace learning that integrates work and learning with theory and practice within a project management frame. This approach draws on the literature relating to capability, organizational learning, and project management. Part B is a case study of the application of this approach in an Australian public sector agency. The lessons learned may be applied in other settings and also provide opportunities for focused research on organizational learning.
Part A: A Model of Project-Based Workplace Learning
To set the stage for this model, it is important to note that organizations in public and private sectors are increasingly aware of the need to adapt faster than their competitors in order to cope successfully with the rapidly changing and highly competitive environment of the global economy (Hamel and Prahalad 1994; Porter 1985; Stace and Dunphy 1994; Hase et al 1998). There is strong interest in what can be done to make organizations more flexible so that they can compete nationally and internationally. Wealth creation and knowledge are becoming linked inextricably. Chichilnisky (1998) has observed that, as we move into the 21st century, we are learning to use the tools of IT to mine our "knowledge about knowledge." IT has shown us that information is not knowledge, and that while digitization, IT networks and technological innovation are all key aspects of the new economy, the common DNA driving these changes is knowledge.
Increasingly, organizations must grapple with unfamiliar problems occurring in unfamiliar environments. Adaptiveness, agility, and renewal in real time become critical characteristics of modem organizations and, hence, organizational learning assumes primary importance. In this context, the key strategic management question is, what strengths must an organization develop to remain relevant and competitive?
This contextual shift, implies that the competitive advantage, even survival, of enterprises depends on their ability to learn faster than their competitors (Ford 2001) and to apply or embed learning in systems, processes, and practices. It is understandable that concepts such as action learning, team learning, organizational learning, and cross-cultural learning have become a central focus.
* Organizational learning
At least three dilemmas are raised by the literature on organizational learning: whether to develop a learning organization before developing organizational learning; whether to invest considerable lead time to develop (or adapt) the preconditions and co-requisites for effective learning; or whether to seek assistance to translate the literature into practical measures. These dilemmas begin with the lack of agreement about the meaning of organizational learning.
Definitions of organizational learning
Various definitions of organizational learning have been offered in the literature, indicating the lack of agreement about what it is or what constitutes a learning organization: "the term appears to be little more than a powerful emotive symbol, like an icon or a flag, which excites commitment in devotees but to which they attribute very different meanings" (Dunphy, Turner and Crawford 1996:2). A sampling of definitions offered by Senge (1999), Pedler et al (1988), Dunphy, Turner, and Crawford (1996), Hamel and Prahalad (1990), Porter (1985), Huber (1991), Levitt and March (1988), and Holiday and Retallick (1995) can be found in the literature referenced at the end of this article.
For the purpose of this paper, Mathews' definition has been adopted. Based on a review of the relevant literature, she has suggested that:
Workplace learning involves the process of reasoned learning towards desirable outcomes for the individual and the organisation. These outcomes should foster the sustained development of both the individual and the organisation, within the present and future context of organisational goals and individual career development (Matthews 1999:19-20).
This is a practical approach that is clear and sufficiently robust to cover both strategic and operational levels and individual and organizational outcomes. While there may be a degree of tension between organizational and individual learning objectives, the overall aim of workplace learning would be to achieve a balance acceptable to all parties.
Fiol and Lyles' (1985: 803) pragmatic definition is also useful: "Organizational learning means the process of improving actions through better knowledge and understanding."
* Characteristics of learning organizations
The literature suggests a number of shared characteristics of learning organizations. This section summarizes some of the main ideas about learning organizations offered by leading authors in the field and discusses recent developments. The purpose is to establish the platform upon which organizational learning is built in a project-based environment.
Argyris and Schon (1996:20, 21) emphasize the concepts of single, double-loop, and triple-loop learning. Single-loop learning is "instrumental learning that changes strategies of action or assumptions underlying strategies in ways that leave the values of a theory of action unchanged." Double loop learning, by contrast, "results in a change in the values of theory-in-use, as well as in its strategies and assumptions." Triple loop learning involves reflection on the learning system and processes themselves, or learning about learning. The development of a learning organization, according to these authors, is to move from single to double-loop and triple-loop learning.
Senge (1990a, 1990b, 1999) also emphasizes the importance of adapting mental models. This is one of five disciplines that organizational members must master to create a learning organization. The other four are personal mastery (a commitment to lifelong learning), building a shared vision, team learning, and systems thinking. Systems thinking is perhaps the most powerful discipline, and Senge advocates teaching this skill to both managers and employees as an essential precondition of organizational learning.
Others have attempted to make the development of organizational learning more accessible to practitioners by offering collections of wise practices. For example, Lang and Wittig-Berman (2000) suggest six techniques for encouraging work-related learning: focus on the organization and its customers, encourage a learning orientation, create expectations for individual learning, provide opportunities for learning, provide time and location flexibility for learning, and emphasize learning in employment decisions and performance evaluations. Hopewell (1995) has suggested "Ten steps to a learning organisation," and the Institute of Training and Development (UK), has offered a toolkit containing 10 key actions to develop a learning organization (IRS 1993).
A more systemic approach to organizational learning focuses on the creation of corporate capabilities or competencies. Capabilities or competencies are broad areas of focus that would be applicable in a range of plausible business scenarios rather than narrowly specified skills sets that may become redundant if the business environment shifts. The literature on organizational change emphasizes the importance of a strategic view of core organizational capabilities important for success. While short-term success may derive from price/performance attributes, Hamel and Prahalad (1990:81) have argued that, "in the long run, competitiveness must be grounded in an ability to build, at lower cost and more speedily than competitors, the core competencies that spawn unanticipated products; by consolidating corporate wide technologies and production skills that empower individual businesses to adapt quickly to changing opportunities."
Ouchi (1990) argues that firms that consistently achieve "supernormal returns" systematically build organizational capabilities into their culture. These capabilities are primarily systems that empower employees to act in ways that realize their fullest potential through teamwork.
Recent research by Turner and Crawford (1998:13) found that distinct capabilities contribute to reshaping or change and to operational effectiveness. They argue that three operational capabilities--business technology, market responsiveness, and performance management--are critical for current business performance. Performance management and two other core capabilities in particular--engagement of the workforce and development--are vital for reshaping the organization's operational capabilities. Each capability, in turn, comprises a number of specific competencies (Dunphy, Turner and Crawford 1996). Turner and Crawford argue that the development of these capabilities is the object of organizational learning.
While the capability approach potentially offers a way to link strategic and operational imperatives in a learning frame, the means of doing so is not well developed. Like the other approaches considered here, the capability approach requires the development and implementation of new techniques, systems, and processes.
Our approach addresses a gap in the organizational learning literature, namely, a failure to ground implementation in existing organizational systems and processes in a way that is both robust and accessible to practitioners. I call this approach "project-based workplace learning.
* Project-based workplace learning
Conceptual foundation. The conceptual foundation of project-based workplace learning is action learning. Action learning is a well-tested, pragmatic, yet powerful process that involves groups of people solving real problems while at the same time focusing on what they are learning and how their learning can benefit each group member and the organization (Marquardt 2000; Weisbord 1987). It applies new questions to existing knowledge and requires reflection about actions taken during and after problem-solving sessions (Dilworth 1998). Hence, it is a sound basis for adaptive learning.
This approach has usually been applied in ad hoc problem solving, team development, leadership development, and professional or career development. In this paper, action learning is integrated with project management to build a new platform for workplace learning.
Project-based workplace learning involves the application of an enhanced project management methodology to embed and develop corporate capabilities at a local level through performance-focused, individual and team learning. This approach integrates work and learning and theory and practice in real projects, in real time.
An integrated approach. Ford (1995, 2001) suggests that the building of integrated processes to ensure robust organizational learning systems is now central to organizational survival. In other words, one of the key criteria for embedding an organizational learning approach is to integrate learning within systems and processes where practicable rather than viewing learning as something done to an organization. In reality, this is a both/and circumstance.
Ford suggests five axes of integration:
* Work and learning-designing work organizations to allow for production and learning outcomes.
* Organizational change and learning processes-building learning processes and outcomes into capital expenditure statements (CAPEX).
* Projects and learning-establishing learning as a critical outcome of project management, beyond traditional time, cost, quality, and scope criteria.
* Joint ventures/alliances/partnerships and learning-recognizing that shared learning processes help establish new relationships.
* Value chains/value net connections and learning-leveraging shared learning with suppliers and outsourcers; that is, outsourcing for knowledge and skills that are not internally available.
The approach to organizational learning suggested below integrates work and learning and projects and learning by enhancing traditional models of project management to include the project's objectives, strategies, plan, resources, methods, and tools (Lientz and Rea 1998). An enhanced approach:
* adapts existing project management systems and processes by treating every project as a learning vehicle for the development of core capabilities.
* integrates work and learning, and theory and practice.
* links strategic and operational capabilities.
* potentially redefines the competencies of project managers to incorporate capability development and the ability to facilitate learning.
A project-based approach. Until recently, project management was a technically oriented discipline with a heavy emphasis on milestones and tasks or activities. In managerial terms, it was a way to attain a short-term objective outside of the current functional or line organization (Lientz and Rea 1998; Lewis 1998; Gray and Larson 2000). Gray and Larson (2000:4) define a project as:"... a complex, nonroutine, one time effort limited by time, budget, resources, and performance specifications designed to meet customer needs."
The major characteristics of a project are:
* An established objective.
* A defined life span with a beginning and end.
* Usually, the involvement of several departments or professionals.
* Specific time, cost, and performance requirements.
Recent literature on project management has reinforced the growing importance of this system in business performance. Lewis (1998) suggests that project management is now a discipline in its own right, independent from general management. Acknowledging the complexities of the modem business environment, he also emphasizes the increasing importance of systems thinking, uncertainty and ambiguity management, and continuous improvement as key competencies in project management.
Gray and Larson (2000) outline other demands shaping project management, including compression of the product life cycle, global competition and international projects with joint ventures and alliances, the knowledge explosion, corporate downsizing, increased customer focus, the rapid development of third world and closed economies, and the concurrent management of many small projects.
Lientz and Rea (1998:49) go further, suggesting that recent trends in quality management and globalization are extending the scope of project management to include quality and performance specifications beyond the physical outputs. In other words, accountability for outcomes is being designed into a project and not retrofitted.
This paper suggests that external and internal pressures on organizations are placing increasing demands on project management systems to evolve toward platforms for organizational and individual learning. Projects thus may become vehicles for learning, beyond traditional scope, time, cost, and quality requirements. Organizations adopting this approach regard the traditional metrics of project management as a given and look to projects to generate important learning about performance, systems, processes, stakeholder relationships and individual and team development. Known in some quarters as entrepreneurial project management, project based workplace learning potentially embeds organizational learning at relatively low cost, using real projects and real teams in real time.
This diagram shows the traditional model of project management in its basic form.
Adapting this approach to project-based workplace learning is illustrated in Figure 2 and discussed in Part B.
Part B: Case Study of Project-based Workplace Learning
* The organization
The case study involves an Australian state public sector agency responsible for the planning, provision, and management of road and related infrastructure. The agency is steward of 34,000 kilometers of road network, which is 20% of the state's total network, carrying 80% of its traffic. The investment in road infrastructure is the state's largest single physical asset, with a replacement value of $25 billion.
The agency manages a budget of over $1 billion, with approximately 4,000 staff located across a geographically diverse area and carring out a range of functions including strategic planning, asset management, investment strategy, design, construction, maintenance, laboratory services, research and development, and policy development. The agency spends approximately $5.3 billion over a rolling five-year program, which supports 175,000 direct and indirect jobs, including those within the agency, local government, private contractors and suppliers.
The agency's mission focuses on livability, economic and regional development, safety, reducing transport costs to industry, and promoting ecological sustainability.
* Case background
This agency has been responsible for the planning, development, and delivery of roads and related transport infrastructure for over 80 years. As described in more detail below, the agency recognized a number of shifts in its external environment that required an assertive, adaptive response if it was to survive. The shifts included:
* Current and projected decline in revenue and investment by governments.
* Misgivings in some sections of the community and industry about the need for road solutions, particularly in urban and large provincial centers.
* A perceptible move towards new technologies, such as information and communications, and less interest in the old technologies of roads and transport.
* Pressures to adapt to current and emerging social issues, such as environmental management, cultural heritage protection, native title management, and integrated land use planning across state government and between state and local governments.
* The impact of new technology on labor utilization.
* The impact of commercialization (exposure to either market forces or market discipline).
* Changes in the government's approach to financial management to achieve government outcomes, signaling the importance of social and environmental priorities.
* Pressures to engage more effectively with communities, key stakeholders in industries and business, and with employees, at a time when governments are under increasing scrutiny from their publics because of perceived failure to understand the "real issues."
These external challenges were a primary point of leverage for senior management's view of business strategy and the approach adapted to workplace learning.
* The management context
The agency was steeped in a culture that valued precision, certainty, order, family ties, and loyalty. The middle and senior managers of the agency were almost entirely male, of Anglo-Celtic descent and over 40, with many employee in the agency for all or most of their working lives. While the agency had a reputation for adopting many of the latest management techniques, the culture was essentially closed and conservative.
The appointment of a new CEO, the first non-engineer to hold this position, was the beginning of a transformation in the approach to management. While the potential impact of the external and internal trends described above had already been recognized within the agency for some years, the new CEO acted quickly to address the risks. Central to his strategy was an integrated management model that linked performance to both rational and nonrational elements of organizational management. This illustrates a key premise of organizational learning relating to the power of leadership behavior in determining the effectiveness of learning strategies (Waldersee 1996; Denton 1998).
Key strategies introduced by the new CEO were:
* An approach to management, leadership, and external affairs that emphasized relationships, self-knowledge, trust-building, and personal accountability and integrity;
* A related focus on learning, in part stimulated by the three frames management model, that could be used at multiple levels;
* A planning regime that began to examine alternative plausible scenarios as the basis for medium term strategic planning;
* A renewed focus on corporate performance management, using the "balanced scorecard" as a key system to shape strategy and broaden the view of the elements of performance; and
* A stronger emphasis on strategic policy analysis as a driver of business strategy and supporting strategies, including human resource management.
In this environment, the organizational culture began to demonstrate greater openness to different ideas. The climate was right for an innovative approach to workforce capability development that built on existing strengths. Project-based workplace learning provided an opportunity to implement organizational learning at a practical level, experientially, by enhancing the development and delivery of projects. While a new approach, a number of the concepts were familiar to line managers, and the benefits, at least in the short-term, were readily appropriated in real time in a real world setting.
* Business Strategy and Core Capabilities
One of the early steps in introducing this approach was to hold a series of conversations about the core capabilities that senior management believed were important for success, both immediately and in the future (next five years).
In the case study, senior management's view of these core capabilities was shaped by:
* External trends relating to social, political and economic issues.
* Internal trends concerned with performance management, workforce capability, information management, and reputation.
* The government's priorities.
* Choices faced by the agency relating to alternative futures, developed through a scenario planning exercise covering a 20-25 year horizon, the 3-5 year strategic planning cycle, and reports of agency performance.
* Informal feedback about the agency's performance from managers, central government agencies, industry leaders, and business leaders.
Senior management thinking was also influenced by recent Australian research by Turner and Crawford (1998).
A number of workshops, discussion papers, and individual and small group processes helped identify a tentative set of core capabilities. Although there was some disagreement, the "first pass" at core capabilities included the following:
* Strategic positioning -- making choices about future directions and communicating these choices.
* Leadership -- embedding a relational approach to leadership that would inspire the commitment of employees to the agency and to their work.
* Learning -- developing organizational and workplace learning as a core capability.
* Technical strength -- maintaining and developing core technical disciplines.
* Relationships -- the ability to form and grow strong relationships with internal and external stakeholders, through partnership and collaboration.
* Performance management -- understanding the drivers of performance, selecting and applying appropriate measures, and using the results to inform capability development.
The descriptions of these capabilities have been simplified for this study. An important part of the process was to ground the specification of core capabilities in the experience, culture, and language of the agency, rather than adopt textbook definitions. It is also noteworthy that the list of core capabilities was developed through an iterative process of claim and counterclaim, opinion and argument, demand and protest, not to mention political influence, because the concepts and their justification sometimes touched raw nerves in the dominant culture. Further, not all executives were interested in this work.
In many ways, the determination of core capabilities was most significant for the strategic conversation that it spawned about external trends, future directions, and the strengths and weaknesses of current business strategy. In other words, the management view of core capabilities was always fluid and would be refined with new insights and experience.
* Implementing The Project-Based Workplace Learning Model
The model was implemented in three pilot sites: an information management project, a road construction project, and a continuing road maintenance process. The latter was selected in part because of a number of pressing capability gaps, but also to test the proposition that even a continuing activity could be framed as a project and managed with the same discipline as any other project. Figure 3 indicates the distinctive implementation process, but is not an exhaustive treatment.
Grounding the core capabilities. One of the early activities in the pilot sites was to ground the corporate view of core capabilities in local realities. In this instance, although employees and most managers understood the corporate core capabilities, they also were keenly aware of local capability (or competency) gaps that needed to be addressed. One of the most powerful interventions in making a connection between strategic intent and local imperatives was the exchange of stories about current and past experience relating to the core capabilities. This yielded valuable insights into specific gaps in competency that could be addressed in the learning environment provided by real projects.
It was important, therefore, not only to invest time and effort in exploring the rationale for senior management's view of core capabilities but also to discuss and agree on the relationship between these capabilities and local gaps and opportunities. For example, local technical skills gaps could be mapped into the corporate view, and the corporate view of the importance of leadership could be mapped into the skill sets desired of project managers. In the maintenance pilot, the importance of relationships between the maintenance crews (as suppliers) and the purchaser (with support services) could be mapped into the corporate relationship capability.
In other cases, the management view of corporate capabilities pointed to gaps in local systems and local capability. For example, the learning capability had loose affiliation with project reviews and (in theory) with quality management processes. But neither employees nor managers considered learning as a systemic, double loop reflection process that could lead to improvements in systems and processes across the business, and to knowledge exchanges. This became a learning performance objective in the pilot sites.
The key message is that grounding the strategic agenda with the local was essential in creating a platform upon which to build robust, meaningful organizational learning processes. This link was not a one way street, where local work groups were told about the importance of the strategic agenda. Rather, it was messy and iterative, involving an exchange of ideas and a transfer of ownership. Local issues were blended with the strategic agenda, and vice versa.
At each site, then, a project specific set of learning or capability shifts was developed, based on both strategic capability directions and operational needs. Critically, the agreed pilot site learning shifts were an embodiment and expression of the strategic agenda--now owned by the work groups in these sites.
Modifying project objectives. Symbolically, and for practical reasons, it was important to acknowledge that the pilot sites were commencing a journey that involved a different way of thinking about projects, project management, and the future competencies of project managers. This involved an open discussion about the concepts of project-based workplace learning and the differences to the traditional model of project management. This approach takes the traditional project management metrics of time, cost, and quality as a given, viewing projects as learning vehicles toward the achievement of a shared vision for the organization.
The objectives of a project, therefore, extend beyond the traditional to cover learning outcomes that contribute to the organization's desired core capabilities, in many cases, learning how to learn is one of the capability shifts to be leveraged through projects.
An important consequence of taking a broader approach to thinking about projects and project management is that employees and managers develop a perspective of projects within a platform of capability development across the organization, and linked to the organization's strategic direction.
Performance indicators. The differences between this approach and traditional project management were particularly evident when pilot work groups began to address the performance indicators. Three linked levels of performance indicators were developed using the 'balanced scorecard' framework (Kaplan and Norton 1992). These covered the project-based workplace learning project, the project-based workplace learning project team, and the pilot projects themselves.
The value of multiple performance frames in modeling successful project management depends on inter-linked contributions and demonstrating that change projects live by the same rules as pilot sites. This approach is also a lever of learning for the change team by focusing on its own performance measures and learning objectives.
Learning strategies. A distinctive characteristic of the project-based workplace learning approach is that the design and delivery (though not necessarily the development) of learning strategies occurs within the project. In the pilot sites of the case example, learning strategies included:
* Workplace mentoring
* Leadership development
* Knowledge exchange with other areas
* Reflective processes
* Documenting suggested changes to corporate systems and practices that could be deployed by system owners
* Relationship development processes within the context of actual problems in real time
* Training activities
Feedback and learning reviews. The process of periodic feedback and learning review involves the following groups:
* Pilot site participants among themselves
* Pilot site participants and the change team
* External providers of services/systems, the pilot site team, and change team
* All pilot site teams
Discussions at these sessions should focus on rational and nonrational aspects of the project; that is, both progress in relation to agreed performance measures and the feelings of participants toward the project and each other. Any changes to project progress may also be agreed here. The use of learning journals in the course of the project helps to ensure that these sessions are productive, as participants have already been reflecting on their journeys through the project. However, implementing formal learning aids can sometimes prove challenging.
Measuring success. The interlinked scorecards were the primary tools for measuring success. The level of measurement rigor varied from site to site. In some instances, specific quantitative measures were agreed on and calculated based on how the pilot site projects may have proceeded in the absence of the learning focus. Written and oral feedback on specific performance measures was also sought from participants and clients before, during, and after the pilot projects. This included a detailed debrief at the conclusion of the pilot to discuss learnings.
Reflections on Project-Based Capability Development
In many ways, the value of this approach lies in its simplicity and ease of understanding, although this does not suggest that it is always simple to apply. This section offers a number of reflections on the model that point to potential pitfalls and challenges.
First, the concept of project-based workplace learning challenges mental models about project management and, to some extent, strategic management. While it is relatively simple to grasp the key concepts, some managers, employees, and HRM practitioners may have some difficulty with an approach to change grounded in the present, rather than in new, system wide solutions that promise transformation. This, of course, may be a reasonable approach in some circumstances (Dunphy and Stace 1992). This paper argues, however, that an alternative paradigm may be more sustainable.
One of the most challenging aspects of introducing change is to place the strategy in a context that is meaningful for participants. In large bureaucracies, whether public or private, the machinations of strategic objectives and important change agendas such as organizational learning can seem remote to those who might live and work away from the corporate center, but who are expected to modify their behavior willingly and with appreciation.
A key element in this workplace learning is to localize core organizational capabilities into meaningful, realistic terms for employees. By linking capability development to projects, the change agents and those affected are forced to examine very closely the relevance of the changes proposed. This has been one of the most powerful benefits of this approach.
A second reflection is that learning how to learn is often difficult when people have never been exposed to thinking about learning as a co-product of work. For example, while this approach recommends the use of learning journals to record project-related and personal insights, this task was not well performed.
Third, in formulating learning or capability development objectives, there is a risk that the goals will be set conservatively to minimize failure. While this may be sensible in a pilot setting, the effectiveness of this approach depends to a degree on stretching for goals that leverage more than incremental change or marginal improvement.
Fourth, the deployment of this approach across an organization relies on systemic change. For example, one of the critical elements in embedding this approach is to redefine the competencies and expectations of project managers. They must become managers of organizational development as well as of delivering a tangible product or service. Human resource management systems, including performance and reward systems, must be repositioned to reinforce a project-based approach to workplace learning.
The project-based workplace learning approach suggested in this paper addresses a gap in the literature on organizational learning and exploits an opportunity available to most organizations through project management.
This approach can be used to develop workplace learning that is directly linked to strategic goals, yet meaningful locally and linked to individual development. A range of learning tools and approaches currently suggested in the literature on organizational learning may be applied in a practical way by work teams, managers, and corporate specialists working together.
The simplicity of the approach and its pragmatic nature is, in many ways, its greatest appeal. The case study indicates that it not only can assist organizations to make sense of the extensive literature on organizational learning, but also can help them avoid one of the most common pitfalls in introducing change-the difficulty of translating strategic intent into locally meaningful imperatives. Further research is required in identifying enabling conditions for success and suitable measures demonstrating the contribution this approach can make to organizational learning, through networks and communities of practice.
Table 1 Organization Learning: Literature Summary STUDY KEY INSIGHTS Argyris and Schon Link organisational growth to the development (1996) of single-double-and triple-loop learning. Senge Development of five disciplines that, when (1990a, 1990b, 1999) approached in an integrated manner, enhance organisational and individual learning capability and effectiveness. Hopewell Ten process steps to developing a learning (1995) orientation. Lang and Wittig-Berman Six techniques for encouraging work-related (2000) providing learning: focusing on the organization and its customers; learning orientation; creating expectations for individual learning; providing opportunities for learning; allowing time and location flexibility; emphasizing learning in employment decisions and performance evaluation. Hamel and Prahalad Development of core competencies that improve (1990) competitive advantage. Ouchi (1990) Turner and Crawford Development of distinctive capabilities that are (1998) required for operational effectiveness and for reshaping or change.
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Mr. Gunasekara, a doctoral student and lecturer in the School of Management at Charles Sturt University, spent 20 years previously in various human resource management roles at senior levels. His experience includes enterprise bargaining, diversity performance management, employee development, and workplace learning.…