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Title: Using learning processes to develop innovation and improvement within organisations : action research as a vehicle for managing individual and organisational capability
Author: Buckler, William James
ISNI:       0000 0001 3507 6951
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2001
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An important requirement in today's rapidly changing business environment is an organisation's capability to achieve innovation and improvement in its products and processes. The effectiveness of learning processes, through which such innovations and improvements are achieved, can, therefore, be a key factor in developing and maintaining competitive advantage. This thesis relates the author's experiences in researching organisational learning processes. It focuses on the development of his personal capability as a practitioner, whilst engaged in a series of projects and interventions, over a ten-year period, aimed at facilitating improvements in aspects of the performance of the organisations concerned. The research culminates in an action research based case study, carried out in an aerospace equipment manufacturer, whilst the author was developing and implementing application databases to improve the organisation's quality management processes. Analysis of the characteristics of an explicit "discovery" learning process employed in the development of the databases, shows how, to a surprising degree, the path of the learning process was influenced by unforeseen, and unpredictable, problems and opportunities. This enabled solutions to be developed winch were innovative and exceeded initial expectations. Systemic barriers to learning were identified, endemic within the "culture" of the organisation and the environment in which it operates, which seem to limit the natural "discovery" learning processes of individuals within the organisation, and thereby slow the development of personal and organisational learning capability. Such development is seen to be crucial to the achievement of performance improvements sought by the organisation, to improve its competitive position in the market in which it operates. The learning barriers are thought to be unintentional conditioned responses resulting from, predominantly, behaviourist learning processes, which individuals have great difficulty changing. A projective model suggests how managers, by the manner in which they exercise the power derived from their authority within the organisation, can affect the vision, values and goals of the organisation, and thereby enhance, or inhibit, the learning processes of their staff. Together, these findings cast doubt on the effectiveness of many established practices in the management of organisations, and the education of managers.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Business environment