Examining the Relationship Between Learning Organization Characteristics and Change Adaptation, Innovation, and Organizational Performance

The main purpose of this exploratory study was to examine the relationship
between certain learning organization characteristics and change adaptation,
innovation, and bottom-line organizational performance. The following learn-ing organization characteristics were found to be the strongest predictors of
rapid change adaptation, quick product or service introduction, and bottom-line  organizational  performance:  open  communications  and  information
sharing; risk taking and new idea promotion; and information, facts, time, and
resource availability to perform one’s job in a professional manner.
Organizational leaders and theorists increasingly view learning as a key ele-ment in developing and maintaining competitive advantage (Armstrong &
Foley, 2003; Baldwin, Danielson, & Wiggenhorn, 1997; DeGeus, 1988;
Goh & Richards, 1997; Liedtka, 1996; Nonaka, 1991; Porth, McCall, &
Bausch, 1999; Schein, 1993; Senge, 1990a; Slater & Narver, 1995; Stata,
1989). Although organizational learning has been studied for decades
(Argyris & Schön, 1978, 1996), a new emphasis on learning has arisen due
to rapid changes in the business climate, including uncertain market condi-tions, increasing complexity, changing demographics, and global competition
(Altman & Iles, 1998; Peters, 1987; Probst & Buchel, 1997; Swain, 1999).
The view that learning increases competitive advantage has stimulated inter-est in developing organizations that foster and promote learning. Learning
organizations are designed to increase competitiveness through generative
learning that is forward looking and reduces the major shocks of change,
through close relationships with customers and other key constituents that
allow for mutual adjustment, and through the ability to quickly reconfigure
and reallocate resources based on environmental change (Slater & Narver,
Recently, there has been a call to redefine the role of human resources in
ways that increase its strategic impact on organizational competitiveness and
success (Griego, Geroy, & Wright, 2000; Ulrich, 1997a, 1997b, 1999). Human
resource development (HRD) professionals are being asked to take a leader-ship role in transforming organizations in ways that foster and promote learn-ing. Creating a learning company requires an understanding of the learning
organization concept and its relationship to desired organizational outcomes


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