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Title: Transitioning towards a learning organisation : an action research approach
Author: Clement-Okooboh, Mercy K.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6353 1052
Awarding Body: University of Bolton
Current Institution: University of Bolton
Date of Award: 2016
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As a journey of continuous improvement, my research focused on supporting and enabling my organisation to become a learning organisation. This is set out in six action research cycles that describe the processes and changes as they occurred. This thesis presents the interplay between developments in the organisation and several strands of systems thinking. At the outset, learning within the organisation was considered to be what happened in the training room, and it started out from evaluating existing training provision. The research found this to be inadequate on its own, and it was followed up by provision of transfer and performance support and a change of emphasis towards mentoring, coaching and informal learning. This was accompanied by the development of a holistic goals-learning-evaluation review process that then integrated all forms of learning into the daily practice of the workplace. Evaluation was embedded as a key feedback loop of both formal and informal learning and a higher tier evaluation of the basic learning/evaluation loop was then introduced. In the light of any continuing unsatisfactory outcomes, this double loop learning questioned assumptions regarding both internal and external conditions and sought new learning solutions as part of wider strategic planning. However this final step was interrupted by significant organisational changes that integrated the UK and Irish branches and. within the Irish branch, my Energy division was integrated with the Water and Waste divisions. After a pause, my focus was then shifted from the Energy division to bringing the Water and Waste divisions up to the level reached by the Energy division. While this effectively brought my PhD programme to an end before reaching the goal of fully establishing the Energy division as a learning organisation, much had been achieved and it presented the opportunity to test the framework and accompanying practices in two different organisations. This has now (two years later) been achieved, hence providing some degree of validation of the framework and processes, and some degree of confidence that they can be successfully applied elsewhere and many of the research approaches and evaluation techniques that I provided are now embedded as part of the work practices across all the units in the Irish branch. The remaining steps to be undertaken within Veolia Ireland would be the completion of those outlined in Action Research Cycle 6, but now across all the subdivisions of the Ireland branch. This would involve the full implementation of the 2nd order review process that integrated the goals-learning-evaluation processes that have been developed and are now fully embedded, with the existing environmental scanning, innovation and strategy formation processes within the Irish branch to create a fully responsive and adaptive learning organisation. Many, if not most organisations are currently at the stage of seeing learning as training room based, which other research has shown to be similarly inadequate. However there is a need for organisations to be more responsive to a rapidly changing operating environment, which can be met through the transition to an organisation that continuously learns and adapts. The approach taken in this work therefore has the potential for wider use. To that end this thesis proposes a generic framework to guide others seeking to become a learning organisation. It provides a concrete illustration of its use and development for users to consider and adapt as needed to their specific circumstances. This study adopts both qualitative and quantitative approaches, using both questionnaires and semi-structured interviews from delegates who participated in three different training programs. The contribution of this study, the Learning Organisation Transition Framework and the practical steps taken from which it both emerged and in turn directed, will be of greatest use to other organisations that have the strategic intent of becoming a learning organisation, but seek guidance on implementation. The studies value offers a concrete contribution to knowledge, by applying a systems thinking approach to the creation of a learning organisation, a task often found to be difficult in practice. Systems thinking principles were used to create feedback loops from internal and external conditions, to enhance performance and adaptivity, thereby, increasing the scope for more generative learning. This involved all employees in their and their organisations future development.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available