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Crowdsourcing the Future: the Foresight Process at Finpro

Autor:   •  November 8, 2018  •  3,159 Words (13 Pages)  •  5 Views

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Types of Organizational Learning

The learning of individuals within organizations and the learning of those organizations are inextricably linked both directly and indirectly. According to Argrys and Schön (1978), there are three levels of organizational learning which are closely linked to individual learning. These are termed as single-loop, double-loop and Deutero-learning. Argrys C., and Schön D. (1996). Single Loop Learning includes the modification of behaviour to prevent earlier, experienced problems. Learning takes place at the individual level. Double loop learning goes further to modify behaviour and also analyzes the processes. “Here the firm’s existing policies, goals, and/or assumptions are called into question and challenged”. Ellerton, S.(2005). It is from the double loop that organizational learning starts.

Deutero or triple loop learning occurs when the organization becomes aware that learning must occur and works consciously to create the appropriate environment and processes to facilitate learning. Here, the organization learns how to learn. “It is through triple-loop learning that the individual or organization can determine how they need to be different to create transformational change”. (Kahane A., 2004).

The Process of Organizational Learning

Huber (1991) states that there are four processes which contribute to organizational learning: acquisition, distribution, interpretation of knowledge, and organizational memory.

Acquisition of Knowledge: Learning commences with organizations obtaining knowledge. This is done by observation and monitoring, storing, managing and retrieving information, educating staff, training staff. The acquisition of knowledge includes not only new but existing information.

Distribution of knowledge: This refers to the process whereby the organization disseminates information. The more information is shared, the more the organization learns

Information Interpretation: Normally, information is interpreted in the context of the organization. The organizations learning grows when the information is interpreted in more and more meaningful ways which benefit the organization.

Organizational Memory: Also called "corporate knowledge" or "corporate genetics" by Prahalad and Hamel (1994), information has to be stored and easily retrievable.

Challenges to Organizational Learning

Organizations face many challenges when attempting to reach double-loop and deuteron-learning. These challenges may be broadly defined in the categories of objectives, incentives, the learning process, the amount of information and staff turnover.

Objectives: The development of clear goals and measurement of achievement of learning goals remain a challenge to organizations. This includes the measurement of learning progress, the allocation of appropriate resources and influencing the behaviour of individuals within the organization.

Incentives: This involves the motivation of individuals within the organization. Without an adequate system of incentives, learning goals will not be translated into priorities.

Learning Process: After goals and objectives are set, and adequate incentive schemes are implemented, the problem of how to capture, assimilate, translate, retain and disseminate information remains.

Amount of information: Even after the learning process is determined, the decision of what information, why that information, and the determination of how much of that information is to be retained and disseminated, remains a challenge to organization learning.

Turnover: Organizations are faced with the problem that when persons leave, their institutionalized knowledge leaves with them. The learning process has to recommence, from scratch, with other persons.

Digital tools and the capacity for mass participation as a solution to Organizational Learning challenges

While several researchers in the field of organizational knowledge merely acknowledge the influence or importance of digital tools and the capacity for mass participation (Information Technology), there are others who recognize the importance and impact of digital tools on organization knowledge. Dodgson (1993) suggests that digital tools or information technology serve as a ground for future research whereas Grantham and Nichols state that ‘technology can be used to clarify assumptions, speed up communications, elicit tacit knowledge, and construct histories of insights and catalog them’ (Grantham C.E & Nichols L.D, 1993).

The inclusion of information systems has a direct and an indirect effect on organizational learning. According to Zuboff (1998), information systems not only automates but ‘informates’ the organization. The inclusion of information systems in the acquisition of organizational knowledge results in an organization that enjoys greater dissemination of information. Information is readily available resulting in the organization becoming more ‘informed, flexible and organic’ Zuboff (1998).

The application of Digital Tools (IT) to Organizational Knowledge

Digital Tools may be used to serve all four processes of organizational learning: acquisition, distribution, interpretation, and memory. A high-level view of the application of digital tools within organization learning is followed by a discussion of the categories (along with specific examples) of these tools:

Digital Tools for acquisition of information:

According to Mason, (1993), information systems applied to the acquisition of information for organizational knowledge can take one of two forms: assimilating knowledge external to the organization, (competitive intelligence systems), or the creation of knowledge by reinterpreting and reformulating existing knowledge (executive information systems or decision-support systems). Other IT tools used in the acquisition of information include filters, both intelligent and/or adaptive, and environment scanning and notification systems.

Digital tools for distribution of information and knowledge: Traditional forms of information distribution include the fax machine, telephone, personal meetings, and letters or memorandums; Recently, more electronic means of communication have surfaced. These more modern means of information sharing and communication include email, electronic bulletin boards, electronic conferencing and meeting software which facilitate communication and collaboration. Hilz and Turoff


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