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Developing communicative competencies for a learning organization

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the developmental needs of managers operating in continuous change contexts. Special attention is drawn to communicative competences through the use of Kent and Taylor's five principles of dialogic communication. A case study is used to illustrate the communicative challenges in creating a learning organization. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The research uses longitudinal case study methodology and provides details on the multiple methods used, specifically: participant observation, focus groups, and document analysis. Findings ‐ Findings suggest that existing management development literature needs to reconceptualise change communication as communication during change, rather than to communicate the change. In so doing attention is drawn to the power of communicative expectations and communicative competence. Successful transformation to a learning organization is hampered by a misalignment of the employee's communicative expectations and management delivery of change communication. Research limitations/implications ‐ Whilst single case studies can be criticized for a lack of generalisability, the use of multiple methods and a longitudinal study bolsters the rigor and validity of this study. Management development needs were not formally addressed in this case study, and thus it is difficult to offer prescriptive statements to improving communicative competences. Practical implications ‐ The field study provided ample opportunity to identify change management development needs, and reflect on how to bolster an often difficult area of change management, communication during change. Originality/value ‐ This research provides in-depth empirical data from an organization attempting to transform to a learning organization. In prior studies the communicative theoretical framework is rarely tested, and this paper provides evidence of the communicative theoretical applicability. This contribution is extended to management development needs.
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Keywords: Change management; Communication skills; Individual development; Learning organizations

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-03-01

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