Catalyzing organizational learning: Social, environmental, and cognitive factors promoting effective change management
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Diversity in the workplace remains a priority for leaders and managers as the dynamic nature of the global marketplace necessitates that organizations develop and maintain a competitive advantage in their field. Learning has long been touted as the key to leveraging limited resources to gain a corner in the market. However, organizations continue to struggle with the management of diversity, as well as systems and processes that promote learning at an organizational level. This study sought to explore a theorized relationship between individual problem-solving style, an aspect of cognitive diversity, and organizational learning capability. Two Midwestern companies participated in this sequential explanatory mixed methods study that aimed to: (a) examine the influence of cognitive style on organizational learning; (b) explore the differences between more adaptive and more innovative individuals, with respect to their organization's cognitive climate, in terms of their development and modification of learning frameworks and shared mental models; (c) determine what role more adaptive and more innovative individuals play in catalyzing organizational learning, namely double-loop and deutero-learning; and (d) identify inhibitors of double-loop and deutero-learning, distinguishing differences for more adaptive and more innovative problem solvers. Findings indicate that there was no relationship between problem-solving style, measured by KAI total scores, and organizational learning capability total scores in one organization and a small correlation between the scales of a second organization. This finding supports Kirton's (2011) assertions that problem-solving style is independent of learning, but some organizations may have small relationships between individual's problem-solving style and organizational learning based on various organizational dynamics. Five themes emerged as cultural mediators of cognitive diversity in the context of catalyzing organizational learning: 1) corporate expectations that create a clear, concise shared mental model for employee behavior and decision making (produced and promoted via an organizational guidebook); 2) the use of agreed-upon structures and methodologies for solving problems; 3) the employment of former military officers (due to the specific skills and experiences needed to successfully fulfill specific roles); 4) the development and nurturing of healthy teams; and, 5) an expectation of boundary-less collaboration. These themes, collectively, assert the importance of a culture that puts culture first. In practice, leaders and managers may find that a clearly defined culture that supports and promotes the use of systems and procedures to collaboratively solve problems and extend learning from individual to organizational is essential to mitigating the challenges that may result from exploiting cognitive diversity in the workplace.
- Doctoral Dissertations