A brief on Organisational Learning
Organizational learning refers to a state whereby an organisation attempts to understand the recent changes and acquire information on the recent trends and changes within the market. The business entity makes alignment with the environmental factor by gaining knowledge about them (Zepeda, 2011). It could be related to any field within the organization, whether it is internal environment or external environment. The definition of organizational learning suggests that when an organization improves its intellect about market situation or business environment in which they are operating on the regular basis, then the learning curve of business entity goes upward which determines the organizational learning. Organizational learning is not just an activity, it is a complete process which must be followed on the regular basis. There are various aspects of an organization where the impact of organizational learning could be experienced. Organisational learning is beneficial as it contributes to improving the market position and more importantly, it allows organisations gain competitive advantage (Pedler, Boydell and Burgoyne YEAR:6; Senge 1990:7) According to Senge, over the long run, superior performance depends on superior learning. (Senge 1990: 7) There are two reasons which foster the concentration towards proper and continuous organizational learning (Lifelong learning, 2013). One is the sustainability and other is profitability. If a business entity is committed to getting long term sustainability along with high profitability, then regular improvement within the business operations is required.
This essay examines the significance of organizational learning to workplace practices. It further illustrates the contribution of organisational learning using examples from two areas - strategy and knowledge management. Both these elements have huge importance in the era of globalization. Without gaining an adequate amount of consideration to these aspects it is not possible to improve the strategic position of the company. Strategy is of high priority in each and every department of organisations. The strategy could be considered the highest version of planning (Lifelong learning, 2013). If a company is focusing on planning, then it suggests that they are simply focused on the completion of work in a proper manner. However, if the concentration is towards the strategy, then the company is ready to deal with uncertain challenges or they have alternate strategy or path to accomplish the work in case of any unexpected challenges. The strategy provides the leading edge to the company and allows them to continue their business operations even in adverse situation. It is essential to explain that the strategic management is based upon the decision making process (Heaney, 2004). Therefore, if the decision making aspect of any organization is effective, then the strategies could be designed in most suitable and effective manner. Further, for the purpose of result oriented decision making process, there is a huge requirement of organizational learning. The strategy formulation process and organizational learning have a direct relationship with each other. For instance, if an organization comes to know, through market research, that they can enter into new market with their existing product range, then they can develop the strategy to enter into the market. The strategy could be based upon the outcomes of market research. It might include the design of the product along with its pricing. Further the promotional aspects and place strategy could also put into a frame. As through market research they can learn about the demand and supply situation, the position of competitors, etc. (Werbach, 2009). It can help them to take concrete decision and business could be commenced.
At the same juncture the strategy could be formulated to deal with risk aspects in relation to market entry decisions. An organization can learn about the available risks through risk assessment process and to eradicate the risks the strategy could be formulated. The impact of organizational learning is huge within the different areas of the organization. It is clear that strategic management has become integral part of all other management activities as the dynamism and uncertainties has been increased tremendously. Once the organization learns then, they perceive something from that learning and act towards it properly (Hunger and Wheelen, 2000). If it is an opportunity then it should be taken as an advantage or if it is related to risk or threat, then risk measurement techniques could also come into existence.
An additional significance of organizational learning is that the mode of entry could be decided through the learning process. The decision about mode of entry could be done if an organization has vast knowledge about new entry alternatives. They can check the compatibility of all the alternatives as per their objectives and nature of business. In the above mentioned example, it becomes clear that the company not only gets access to commence their business in overseas market, but also they get knowledge about the best possible option to continue their investment (Cole, 2003). It can help them in attaining the both sustainability ad profitability. Thus, it could be argued that in the formulation of organisation strategies, there is a huge requirement of improving the learning curve about new management practices and models to be implemented. It is just a one part of the strategy which is related to expansion and diversification.
Other than this, there are various areas where the need of strategy formulation is required (Hunger and Wheelen, 2000). Finance management, marketing, operations, supply chain, etc. these all are areas where strategic management has its impact and organizational learning process provides the firm decision making. Every stage of strategy making process should be linked to learning of the company. Without proper information and data the decision should not be reached at the final stage.
As mentioned above that strategy and planning both are different; strategy comes into existence when planning fails. Strategy is highly significant because it gives an adequate amount of consideration to the visionary approach (Azmi, 2010). The strategy provides the distinctive identity and concreteness to the operations of the company. The benefits of strategic management could not be availed if the organizational learning process is poor and unstructured. The research and development department of any organization is also a part of organizational learning. This is because the foremost source of learning is the research and development department. The department conducts research in various areas, particularly for product development and passes on the information to the operations team. In most of the technology related firms they try to be innovative by conducting research into new technologies and its implications (Blumentritt, 2006). Likewise, surveys conducted internally or by consultancy firms can also provide a useful piece of information about the changing trends of the market so that companies can make strategic decisions. For example, the mindset and satisfaction level of employees could be identified (Blumentritt, 2006) which can help in strategic human resource decision making.
The learnings, related to financial department, could be easily enhanced through past sales figures, data, economic situations in past and current situation so that future financial situation could be predicted and strategic financial management could become stronger. Thus indicating that strategic management could be applied anywhere, whether it is human resource or financial department or related to marketing. Further, a strategic decision like merger and acquisition, joint venture, etc. could also handle effectively.
It could be argued that organizational learning is not only beneficial for rapid growth and development of organization, but it has a huge contribution in gaining the market leadership. In addition, management experts and research scholars have cited that organizational learning is a element of strategic management. According to Griffin (2002), where the learning curve is upward or concrete, stronger strategies could be designed. This implies that if companies concentrate on learning, they are likely to make better decisions which allow for competitive advantage to be gained.
The second dimension where the role of organizational learning has been significant is in the area of Knowledge Management as organizations are continuously seeking to improve their knowledge acqusition and management. Learning and knowledge are interlinked; if an organisation has a good learning curve, then the ratio of knowledge would be high and immense ((Jeffs, 2008).. Knowledge management is defined as the storage, dissemination and retrieving the information and knowledge as per the situation demands (Jeffs., 2008). Organizational learning contributes in the management of knowledge as it can help in identifying the new technologies and new ways which can help in collecting and storing the information. Learning is something which organizations come to know, related to any area of business or market of operation. However, in knowledge management the company tries to store and collect only that information which is related to their business, market and customers (Tseng, 2010). So in organizational learning the business entity can understand that in which manner they can collect the knowledge and how they can store the data or figures in well organized manner. It could be challenging at very large scale as knowledge management has become very wide dimensions of businesses now days.
There should be a proper balance between what company learns and what they already know? The best example to understand this relationship is the legal aspects or legal environment. For instance till now the company was aware with some old rules and regulations and legal norms. It was their knowledge about the existing law (Tseng, 2010). But now some of the legal aspects related to trade and business within the industry have been changed now it is their learning which could replace the previous knowledge or familiarity with the past legal terms. Thus, in this way organizational learning contributes in identifying the new things and keep on updating the knowledge level. Thereby indicating that Knowledge Management is dependent upon the organizational learning. If the learning is not updated and upward, then the stored information will be of no use after some point of time. Ahead in order to fulfil the main objectives of knowledge management (gathering the updated knowledge aout market and customers) the contribution of learning process (it foster to review the market on the regular basis.) could be high. For instance till now the company using world’s best software to store the information. But now some kind of errors related to data theft or outdated applications, etc. has been noticed within the system or information storage system. The company comes to know about this problem so the business entity could be in a position to bring change with immediate effect (Murthy, 2012). They can install new technology that can store the information in most secure and reliable manner. Same wise if the communication pattern till now was different and now the information dissemination source has been updated completely as new source of media has been introduced within the market. The example is that e-mail system has replaced the fax and other communication technologies. Thus, in this way the learning could be helpful in storage and dissemination of information.
The spectrum of knowledge management is very wide as companies deal into wide areas and they have a huge knowledge related to their business, market and customer. Social networking sites, cloud computing and Big Data etc. these are certain new technologies that could be helpful with the perspective of collecting the knowledge. The collection of information is something which affects the decision making process in different areas and assessing the risk and available opportunities. It is another objective of knowledge management that could be improved immensely through proper organizational learning. New and innovative ideas of knowledge management could be implemented within the organization. Thus storage, collection and dissemination of information could be done with ease and comfort if an organization has made proper alignment with the new dimensions of organizational learning (Thomson and Hecker, 2000).
Organizational learning is related to each and every area of organization and it could be successful only if every person associated with the company is giving their best to learn something that can contribute into the organizational success. The learning of managers or higher authorities is not sufficient to support the vision and mission of the company. The contribution of lower level staff is equally required. For instance, if the employees in the marketing department come to know that with the help of new product the customers could be attracted easily (Thomson and Hecker, 2000). But in same decision making the role of sale people could also be significant as they spent their most of the time assessing the products or services of its competitors or other brands. The learning of sales people can provide a useful piece of information to the marketing manager and the product could be developed accordingly. Therefore, if learning is incorporated into the culture of a company, it could yield long term results for the business entity. The organizational culture should be built in such a way where every individual should be dedicated and committed to learn something which in return develops the competency and productivity of an organization (Ubeda and et. al., 2013). Leaders also play a crucial role in influencing the people in developing a learning attitude as they can set the example and benchmark for their followers. In short it could mention that the learning attitude of individuals sets the platform for organizational learning
In summary, organizational learning is a process that is beneficial to organisations if followed by every individual associated with an organisation. Ahead the difference between the planning process and strategic planning process also become clear. In indicates the visionary approach of a company as it provides the solution for adverse working environment organization it is explaining that the planning process is just related to the fulfilment of short term goals whereas strategic process has direct relevancy with the fulfilment of long term goals and it represents the visionary approach(Ubeda and et. al., 2013). The main contribution of organizational learning is that it encourages organisations and employees to continuously seek to aquire and manage knowledge, as a result, continuous improvement become possible which could have positive impacts on the market position of an organisation and its competitive advantage. Overall, the importance of organizational learning within the strategic management and knowledge management has also become clear Further, this essay has helped in assessing the various techniques to improve the learning in both individual level and for the organization (it is a part of conclusion so i just found it after the construction of report). Organizational culture, leaders learning attitude can foster the learning habit within the individuals and organization can learn through market research techniques. Thus, these aspects should be considered while focusing upon the organizational learning process.
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