An Investigation of the Nexus Between Strategic Planning and Organizational Learning

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Virginia Tech


This study considered the question: "What is the nature of the nexus between strategic planning and organizational learning, and how does it operate in a specific organization?" A single case study using the narrative inquiry approach was conducted at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Headquarters in Washington, DC. The research found a mature strategic planning process at NASA supported by a wide variety of active and ongoing organizational learning activities, of both an explicit and implicit nature. Based solely on the current research, the nexus between strategic planning and organizational learning is defined as a fluid, dynamic interplay and relationship within an organization that at times is an explicit, implicit, and sometimes even accidental process that uses an organization's strategic plan to: develop an informed workforce; store, transfer, and retrieve knowledge and data; create an awareness and understanding of the external environment; initiate behavioral change based on past experience; support a culture of learning; maintain an active communications network; encourage continuous improvement; and involve and inform customers and stakeholders.

As a single case study, the research cannot explain all organization behavior and activity as it relates to strategic planning and organizational learning. However the study provided a first look at the nature and composition of the nexus between the two constructs in the context of a government agency. Research similar to the current study is suggested in organizations of various sizes as well as in non-government organizations, such as private industry, academia, and the non-profit sectors. Future research is suggested in areas such as the effect of organizational learning on competitive advantage, which was not addressed in the current study, but is suggested in the literature. Finally, research is suggested in organizations that do not have a strategic planning process that has achieved the level of maturity found at NASA.



Strategic Planning, Organizational Learning