Learning through downsizing in Taiwan
This thesis is based on a study with 42 public servants, who were white-collar workers in the Taiwan Provincial Government (TPG). The downsizing in the TPG is used as an opportunity to explore how particular public servants adjust themselves to changes, how they interact with the bureaucratic organisation and how they use interpersonal networks to sort out difficulties in their work. In order to understand these situations, the case study method is used. Semi-structured interviews are also employed in this study. This study aims to re-conceptualise learning, with reference to the way public servants interact with their colleagues and their environment. It attempts to build on the view that individuals' learning in bureaucratic organisations can be triggered by social processes emanating from their mutual engagements and shared practices. The claim is supported by data associated with introducing and discussing the concept of communities of practice. It supports the view that learning is a social practice and that its motivation grows out of the interaction between interpersonal networks and daily sense-making activities. Based on this argument, the thesis traces 4 basic elements in relation to the desire to be accepted by the group, making comparisons, establishing interpersonal networks and engaging in exchanges. The argument is that learning is a by-product of social interactions. Considering the relationship between power and the market in knowledge, individuals engage in a learning process in order to acquire particular resources. This research indicates that the sluggish system such as the TPG still has the potential to break the power hierarchy of the bureaucracy so as to facilitate its members' learning of organizational knowledge. This research also suggests that the influence of the basic elements is modulated by 3 factors - one's value system, official business and one's attitude to interactions.