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Learning and Development in the Organizational Context Essay

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Updated: Jun 27th, 2020

Learning and development is an important element of human resource development. The world over, corporations and other organizations are increasingly appreciating the need to engage comprehensive plans for learning and development in a bid to improve the productivity of their workforce hence becoming more competitive. This competitiveness as a result of higher productive workforce gives these organizations added advantage in the market improving their ability to deliver products and services and hence the ability to generate returns. Holistically, the organization is also said to be engaged in a learning process through its experiences over its time of existence. This paper looks at the theoretical aspects of learning and development within the organizational context.

One important difference exhibited by scholars on learning and development in the organizational context boils down to whether emphasis is on technical process or social process. The technical aspect is based on the understanding that the process of learning and development in an organization is mainly aimed ensuring better interpretation, processing as well as response to information both within as well as without the organization. Indeed an organization is said to be engaged in a learning process if it manages to change a range of its behaviors as a result of efficient and accurate interpretation and processing of information. The different units of the organization can acquire valuable knowledge which has the potential to make the organization operate better (Bruhn, & Gibson, 2006, p34).

One important concept is the distinction between single and double-loop learning. Single loop learning entails the ability of the organization to detect and correct errors occurring in the processes and in consideration of the parameters established to control variables. An organization which has well devised mechanism to continually engage in corrective measures has a better chance of improving its efficiency internally.

Double-loop learning on the other hand involves making relevant alterations with the aim of improving the existing processes in the organization. This difference is critical as it spells out the process of organizational change. Consequently, single-loop learning entails incremental changes and adaptations while double-loop learning entails more radical adjustments often involving radical changes in strategy for the organization. The double-loop learning is thus superior to single-loop learning (Klein, & Kieslowski, 2000, p45).

The criteria to determine whether to apply single-loop or double-loop learning are also an important concern for many authors. Several challenges emerge from this requirement. An example is the exploration and exploitation of technology. Exploration should lead to the emergence of new knowledge which can lead to a radical shift in the organization.

This leans in the double-loop learning concept. Exploitation of technology is more likely to lead to an improvement in the organization’s performance in the short term meaning that it leans more towards single-loop learning. The most important hindrance to this perspective is the fact that many managers do not follow the logic presented by the information they have. This may alter or suppress information hence resulting in false validation of decisions (Hedberg, 1981, p56).

Organizational learning also applies the concept of ‘informating’. This implies that information technology can be used as a tool towards availing more information to employees thus making them more liberal or be used selectively to control as well as monitor individual behaviors. Most scholars favor the liberating aspect as opposed to the controlling application of information however it is clear that the later is more applied in the organizations today (Venkatraman & Grant, 1986 p25).

The social aspect if learning and development in the context of the organization looks at the various ways in which individuals interpret their experiences at the work place. The different experiences emerge from explicit sources such as financial information as well as tacit sources such as the intuition developed by experienced strategists.

Consequently, learning in this context occurs as a result of social interactions. Explicit sources entail more of interpretation of information in the organization while tacit sources entail learning processes which occur as a result of the general socialization process in the organization (Smith, Aráujo, & Burgoyne, 1999, p34).

This being the case, organizational learning and development can be viewed as a being socially constructed political process which has being implicated within the culture of the organization. The social process in organizational learning thus solves the imitation of the technical view of organizational learning.

Despite the differing views, learning in the context of the organization is an important consideration for managers keen on effecting changes with the aim of improving the organization. The overall effect of the many changes effected by the organization largely determines whether the organization in general has gained from the experiences as well as the available information to better itself. The technical aspect is the more sensitive one as it relates ore to the political rather than a social process. Defense from the need to protect oneself from threats posed by political processes is a major determinant of the success of this process.

Reference List

Bruhn, M. & Gibson, C. 2006. Multinational Organization Context: Implications For Team Learning And Performance. Academy of Management Journal Vol. 49(3).

Hedberg, B. 1981. How organizations learn and unlearn. Handbook of organizational design. Oxford University press, U.K

Klein, K. & Koslowski, S.2000. Multi-level theory, research, and methods in organizations: Foundations, extensions and new directions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Perry-Smith, J. & Shalley, C.2003. The social side of creativity: A static and dynamic social network per-2006 Zellmer-Bruhn and Gibson 517 spective. Academy of Management Review, Vol28.

Smith, M., Aráujo, L., Burgoyne, J. 1999. Organizational learning and the learning organization. MCB University Press.

Venkatraman, N., & Grant, J. H. 1986. Construct measurement in organizational strategy research: A critique and proposal. Academy of Management Review, Vol11.

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