Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

The Learning Enabling Structure: Validating a Measuring Instrument

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

The Learning Enabling Structure: Validating a Measuring Instrument

Article excerpt

Organizational Learning: The Concept

The concept of organizational learning got a new avatar with the advent of Peter Senge's work in 1990's. He coined the term 'learning organization'. After his best selling book 'The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization', was published in 1990, Senge succeeded in propagating the concept of learning organization. From its more theoretical and academic perspective, it was Senge who was the first, who made it easy to understand and comprehend.

The literature predominantly emphasizes the learning organization as a particular organizational form (Goh 2001). There are diverse opinions regarding the design of learning organization like Senge's ('Five Disciplines'), Garvin's (experimenting with new approaches, problem solving, etc.), Pedler's 11 characteristics of a learning company and so on. Gephart et al. (1996) describe learning organizations focus primarily on systems-level organizational learning. This system-level learning occurs when organizational structure, culture, and its people centric elements interact with each other. Interaction of these attributes shapes the nature and extent of organizational learning. The structural dimension defines the 'real energy' of an organization competing on dynamic capability in a knowledge economy. The structure of an organization represents the building block on which it rests. It contains a myriad of jobs, departments, divisions, employee interactions, and so on. So any change in organizational identity requires simultaneous modifications in its structure. In order to make a 'learning organi-zation', the organi-zational structure and processes underlying it, need to be facilitators of learning. So what are the factors that underlie a learning organization structure in the Indian context? How to measure the structural dimension of a learning organization? Literature contains a number of references to the learning organization and its characteristics. An instrument developed by Mishra et al (2006) was used in the present study to measure the degree to which respondents considered their own organization to conform the factors ascribed to the learning organization structure. This paper reports on the research and analysis being undertaken to better understand the factor structure and content of the construct. The study is an extension of research that has been conducted by Mishra et al (2006) in the Indian IT sector in 2005-06. As has been reported earlier, the learning enabling structure scale (LESS) was validated on a sample of executives from IT organizations. One of the suggestions that emerged for future research was that the scale needs to be further validated by a cross section of emplo-yees from organizations operating in other sectors/industries. This study aims at:

* A better understanding the factor structure and content of the construct.

* Empirically validating the instrument using data from non-IT sectors.

Research Methodology

Initially the scale was tested and validated among 213 respondents in IT organizations. The final version of the instrument consists of 13 items (Appendix 1). On the basis of factor analysis, two factors emerged and were labeled as creative problem solving (CPS) and Boundarylessness. CPS represents generating ideas and collecting information by using multifunctional teams. Team members unleash their potential when they are exposed to different problems and ideas. In an organization, where opportunities are provided to members to voice and share their feelings, ideas, and tacit knowledge, it boosts their self confidence and results in 'creative problem solving'. It is of paramount importance for organizations to unlearn, learn, and re-learn.

Boundarylessness defines a situation where breaking down of barriers within and between firms occurs. It eliminates the chain of command, creates empowered teams, and helps in effective intra-organizational and inter-organizational communication. …

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