At Murdoch university we are currently conducting a project on the
creation of cultures within the workplace which encourage and support
learning, 17 Australian organisations are involved in this study.
Information on this project is included below.
We are very interested in the organisational learning experiences and
processes for creating cultures which support learning within
organisations internationally.We are intereseted in comparing these to the
experiences of organisations within our Australian study.
We look forward to contributing to this organisational learning dialogue,
and to continuing our own learning in this exciting area.
Murdoch University, Western Australia
Interest in the notion of building learning organisations is growing
rapidly. It is hard to keep up with the explosion in literature being
published, advocating the creation of workplace environments that actively
encourage continuous learning as part of the development process in
Recent literature on workplace learning emphasises the need for workplace
training and development to be brought closer to the immediate work
environment (Watkins&Marsick 1993 , Nyhan 1995 ). Both researchers and
practitioners are suggesting that the primary task for those involved in
facilitating learning in the workplace is to develop new strategies for
enabling workers to use job experiences more effectively for learning.
Innovative organisations worldwide are implementing initiatives to promote
cultures of learning at work.
In Western Australia a number of organisations have introduced, or are in
the process of introducing, a variety of approaches designed to encourage
employees to share and build knowledge in the workplace.
Both the structured and unstructured learning opportunities these
organisations are providing have become the subject of a study currently
being undertaken by Murdoch University.
Using a grant from the Australian National Training Authority Research
Advisory Council (ANTARAC), researchers from Murdoch University's School
of Education in Western Australia are in the process of investigating the
extent to which a group of organisations in Western Australia are creating
environments in which opportunities for learning are openly valued and
supported, and are built where possible, into the immediate workplace
The study involves 17 organisations with a diverse range of size and
functions. The industry areas covered include food, mining, process
manufacturing, tourism and hospitality, building and construction and a
number of public sector organisations. The project is investigating case
studies of innovative work-based training and development practices in
workplaces, with a particular focus on:
* the ways in which learning has been incorporated into the
organisation to encourage continuous improvement;
* the range of organisationally supported processes and practices
that give people opportunities to learn in the course of their work, and
that are a part of their immediate workplace environ- ment;
* the ways in which training has been designed and implemented to
facilitate and support a culture of learning as part of the process of
change in a range of organisations.
Within the 17 organisations participating in the study, interviews and
focus group discussions have been conducted at three levels including
senior management, training or facilitation personnel and with staff
involved in specific development activities.
In discussions with senior management, the aim has been primarily to
establish the place of learning and employee development within the
strategic vision for the organisation and to establish the systemic
support for learning provided within the organisation.
Interviews with training personnel have focused on the range of learning
opportunities being provided within the organisation, how these approaches
are implemented, the incentives for employees to participate in the
opportunities provided, and the change that has resulted from increased
opportunities for learning in the workplace. Finally, the staff focus
group discussions have investigated perceptions of particularly useful
learning opportunities in the workplace, motivating factors influencing
learning at work and the perceptions of the outcomes and value of learning
in the workplace at both personal and professional levels.
One of the key issues for the project is to provide a better understanding
of the key systemic features within organisations that promote positive
learning cultures in the workplace. By conducting interviews at three
levels within organisations, perceptions from a diversity of
organisational staff are contributing to an improved understanding of both
the systemic features and motivating influences that support learning at
Preliminary results from the study are indicating that the active
promotion and recognition of the value of learning within organisations is
changing employee attitudes and perceptions about the role of learning in
the workplace. Increasingly recognition is being given to the double value
that can be gained from work if opportunities for critical reflection and
innovation are built into the normal course of workplace activities.
For further information
A full report of the study will be available in December 1996. To be
included on the mailing list for the completed research report please
Liz Harris or Simone Volet
phone: 09 360 6630, fax: 09 310 5299
firstname.lastname@example.org (Liz Harris)
Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <email@example.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>