How managers learn when their organisations go through change
A review of the learning literature reveals the current lack of a viable theory of how people learn when they encounter change in the workplace. This thesis presents a new model of learning that describes how people learn in response to changes in their environment. The research tracked the learning of twenty-one managers and staff from two organisations implementing change programmes. Participants recorded their learning in monthly diaries whilst interviews were conducted at the beginning and end of the year. Learning as an outcome was defined as any change in behaviour, cognition or emotional orientation towards a cue. Learning outcomes for each participant were identified and the learning process was then tracked through the interviews and monthly diaries. The research identifies four core learning processes that appear in all instances of learning: paying attention, responding emotionally, making sense of 'cues' and taking action. Learning is said to have taken place when these four processes are engaged in such a way as to lead to emotional, behavioural or cognitive change. We then ask the question - what motivates people to engage these processes in ways that lead to learning and change? We noted that learning is both driven and inhibited by four important needs - the desire to achieve important goals, achieve psychological well-being, fulfil personal values and establish self-esteem. Finally, we identify five different learning states, showing how the underlying dynamic driving these processes differs according to the degree of control exercised over the learning process. The research goes on to describe the detailed dynamics that illustrate this theory. We conclude that learning, particularly in response to change, is a far more complex process than many current models suggest. We attempt to encapsulate this complexity in our own learning model and then suggest possible area for future research.