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Change in(ter)ventions to organizational learning: bravo to leaders as unifying agents

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this research is to examine the relationship between change interventions and organizational learning. It seeks to identify the process through which team learning is developed, the factors that affect organizational learning and its influences on organizational effectiveness. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Two groups of samples from a Singapore large manufacturing firm that had implemented change interventions for two years were selected. Qualitative data from 45 employees using the laddering, non-directive interviewing technique, and 20 leaders using focus group discussions were gathered. Findings ‐ Changes to organizational systems and structure have led to a state of not-knowing which contributes to defensive dynamics. Learning begins with the unlearning of old habits by encouraging new thinking patterns through rigorous feedback loops. Expectations of leaders should also be redistributed to facilitate and integrate the various aspects of learning. Research limitations/implications ‐ Change interventions have led organizational learning to develop in reciprocal directions where the initial top-down approach is subsequently supported and driven by a bottom-up approach. The strategy is to engage employees in collaborative decision making embedded in constant dialogue and reflection. Practical implications ‐ Organizational learning strategies, developed from the lessons learned, are based on organizational infrastructures with an emphasis on efficiency, effectiveness and transformation. One of the critical considerations is the institutionalization of learning as being integral to daily work practices. Originality/value ‐ The study extends the theoretical basis of the "fifth discipline" by incorporating the nominalist perspective such that organizations, as organisms, have the capacity to recreate themselves for the expansion of the shared vision.
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Keywords: Discipline; Leadership; Learning organizations; Organizational change; Singapore

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 25, 2007

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