Modern organizations require a high level of creative planning, effective and useful knowledge of new production and new processes, increase of coherence of joint actions with long-term obligations, and understanding of the need of the complex problems solution. In turn, the trained workers who openly express their opinion, appreciate the knowledge and the best decisions, and seek to combine their efforts for the general creative work are always in demand. For this purpose, more and more learning organizations are created today. Thus, in order to evaluate the importance of the learning organizations, it is necessary to study their features and ways of their building in more detail.
Learning organization is an organization, which creates, acquires, preserves and keeps knowledge. Learning organization is capable of changing the forms of the behavior successfully reflecting new knowledge or projects. The self-learning organization appears where human resources and talents become the most important factor of productivity and the purpose of investments. It usually occurs when flexibility becomes a keyword. Further, administration of changes becomes the most important purpose of control and management (Garvin, n.d.).
In the organization theory and practice, organizational learning is considered as a continuous source of creation of the company’s competitive advantages and its strategy of continuous updating of methods and increase of different activities’ efficiency. The organizations which are not trained (and respectively do not change) in the conditions of fast changes of environment are considered as doomed. Hence, experts recommend creating groups learning in the course of activity and focus attention on the need to generate new ideas in the learning process (Garvin, n.d.).
Creation of the learning organization is important because it provides improvement of personal skills of each worker. Thus, the person improves his/her abilities and looks for new knowledge not only because it is required by the environment and circumstances but on own initiative, on the basis of internal need for it. Besides, the general vision is created. It is based on representation that the greatest success in achievement of the common group goals requires the general fair idea of the desirable future of the organization, which would be equally known and divided by all workers. It not only improves the consistency of performance but also generates sincere personal interest in its results (Mulholland, Zdrahal, & Domingue, 2005).
The group training applied in the learning organizations assumes creation of group knowledge providing people with knowledge about group interaction at the level of separate teams and the organization as a whole. It is carried out not only in the form of trainings and seminars but also in the labor process by means of open dialogues, discussions, and exchange of experience. Result of group learning is a synergetic effect when the group becomes something more than just a collection of people and knowledge, and, respectively, surpasses the simple sum of knowledge of each person entering the group (Jain, & Martindale, n.d.).
Also, creation of the learning organization is needed for identification of prevailing mental models. Mental model is implicit and unexpressed, sometimes even unconscious representations and beliefs inherent to people. Such mental models may prevent people from learning since they conflict with new modes of actions. The analysis of existing stereotypes and mental stamps is necessary for a successful introduction of changes in consciousness and understanding of workers and further, in the company as a whole (Mulholland, Zdrahal, & Domingue, 2005).
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The system thinking typical for employees of learning organizations sums up all above-mentioned, meaning the ability for a deep and comprehensive understanding of relationships of cause and effect and relations between the phenomena of the world. Application of the learning method in the company allows to increase its competitiveness, keep flexibility, and adapt to quickly changing conditions and market requirements. Thus, executives of the company need to understand that the whole organization (from management to the grassroots workers) should constantly learn in the conditions of continuous forecasting of future market conditions. Administrative experience in HR management, for example, showed that practice of system approach to learning of the personnel and formation of the company as constantly learning one has a great relevance during the period of the increasing competition (Mulholland, Zdrahal, & Domingue, 2005).
One of the common methods of functioning and development of the learning organization is corporate learning. Corporate learning can be carried out in different forms, such as a traditional method, mentoring, brain storms, analysis of cases, etc. The effectiveness of corporate learning depends on several factors. They include the mentoring potential, permeability of borders within the organization, culture of learning, and information infrastructure (Jain, & Martindale, n.d.).
Mentoring is an ancient mechanism of accumulation and transfer of knowledge and experience. In modern conditions, organizations show a great interest in using this method for corporate learning. Mentoring represents informal learning of employees during working process. Intra organizational borders reflect the degree of freedom of the ideas, people within the organization, and possibility of creation of communities. The higher this freedom is, the more opportunities and competitive advantages in business the organization has. The highest success is achieved by the organizations, where all employees make a contribution to their development (Marquardt, 2011).
Information infrastructure is a collection of tools and mechanisms as well as personal contacts, which include documentation and reporting, computer conferences, internal mail, computer training systems, and many other things. Learning culture is an environment favorable to learning and development. Learning culture includes the values, attitudes, traditions, policies, specific standards and plans concerning learning, and training infrastructure, namely channels of resources distribution (Jain, & Martindale, n.d.).
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