In order to place my dissertation into current literature, I have begun to start reading again about organizational learning. I will be blogging about it over the next few months in order to help me write the dissertation.
Organizational Learning from a cultural perspective
The first article I read was by Cook and Yanow (1993). Their article takes the position that most organizational learning theories use cognition as a basis, either looking at the individual learning which when aggregated makes up organizational learning, or looking at the organizational learning as if it were the same process as individual learning, only as an organization. They identify a third approach, which is to look at organizational learning from a cultural perspective.
The cultural perspective looks at organizations as having a collective pattern of action (just as societies do) that create artifacts, shared meaning, and "knowledge" within the group. The knowledge is held collectively by the group, but was not created by the individual. Rather, the knowledge, and thus the learning, is passed on throughout the organization by the "group".
Looking at organizational learning from this perspective opens up a number of issues for workplace learning. Cook and Yanow, for instance, note that change is not necessary for learning to take place. Rather, learning might reinforce the social and cultural norms that make up the organizational identity. Likewise, much of the learning in organizations are tacit and difficult to measure.
Implications for Organizational Training
When I look at this, the main implication that comes to mind is that "learning outcomes" may not be a good measure of organizational learning. It seems to me that most training is really a means of either repositioning or reinforcing organizational culture. If that is the case, it is not enough to measure individual performance to determine if training was successful. Rather, there needs to be an analysis of organizational processes and an agregate of organizational understanding of the learning outcomes.
For example, the group I am working with is working on a training program in human services. While they could use a questionnaire at the end of the training to see what each individual "knows", a better format would be to identify patterns of action that would indicate the desired organizational behavior. Participants should fill out this questionnaire at the beginning and end of the training. But then there should be a follow up questionnaire given to the organization as a whole to determine if the training has infiltrated the organizational culture. If training was effective, not only would individuals that received the training allign their values with the target values, but so would those that did not receive the training.
- V Yonkers
- Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.