Describe a learning organization. What structural aspects does a learning organization need?
A learning organization is an organization that has developed the capacity to continuously learn, adapt, and change. In a learning organization, employees continually acquire and share new knowledge and are willing to apply that knowledge in making decisions or performing their work. Some organizational theorists even go so far as to say that an organization’s ability to do this—that is, to learn and to apply that learning—may be the only sustainable source of competitive advantage. What structural aspects does a learning organization need? First, it’s critical for members in a learning organization to share information and collaborate on work activities throughout the entire organization—across different functional specialties and even at different organizational levels. To do this requires minimal structural and physical barriers. In such a boundaryless environment, employees can work together and collaborate in doing the organization’s work the best way they can and learn from each other. Finally, because of this need to collaborate, teams also tend to be an important feature of a learning organization’s structural design. Employees work in teams that are empowered to make decisions about doing whatever work needs to be done or resolving issues. With empowered employees and teams, there’s little need for “bosses” to direct and control. Instead, managers serve as facilitators, supporters, and advocates.
Source: Management, 11e (Robbins/Coulter)