Learning Styles of Organisations

Topics: Educational psychology, Learning, Organizational learning Pages: 12 (3890 words) Published: March 10, 2013
Organizations are socio-technical systems. Because of that, they have their own behavioural styles as in all social systems and complex processes of information gathering and knowing as in complex adaptive technological systems. From that perspective, organizational learning process looks more like individual learning process. Diversity of experience, education, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, expertise, and opinion can aid any organization in attempting to understand the environmental changes in organization’s own way. Learning in an organization means the continuous testing of experience, and the transformation of that experience into knowledge- accessible to the whole organization, and relevant to its core purpose. So, different types of experiences and psychologies cause different types of adaptation.

Organizational learning comes from the ability of organizational actors to relate experience and information to routines and problems (Argyris and Schon 1996, 16; Mahler 1997, 519). We follow Berend Boersma and Weggeman’s definition of organizational learning as“the development of knowledge held by organizational members, that is being accepted as knowledge and is applicable in organizational activities, therewith implying a (potential) change in those activities” (2003, 1042).

The four Stages of the Learning Cycle for Management and Organizations
Kolb identified 4 distinct learning styles based on a 4 stage learning cycle on which management and Organizations could learn (1984).
Each stage of the learning cycle uses a different approach to learning:
Concrete Experience(CE) Learn by doing and acting
Reflective Observation(RO) Assimilate through observing and reflecting.
Abstract Conceptualizaton(AC)Develop concepts through thinking and reflection.
Active Experimentation(AE) Plan to test new concepts by doing and moving towards the CE stage cycle again.

Figure 1: Kolb’s Learning Styles(Kolb March 2006)
The learning styles preference itself is actually the product of two pairs of variables or two separate choices Concrete Experience- CE (feeling) Vs Abstract Conceptualisation –AC (Thinking) Active Experimentation – AE (Doing ) Vs Reflective Observation RO (watching) A typical presentation of Kolbs two continuums shown in Figure1 above is that the east west axis is called the processing continuum (how we approach a task) and the North and south axis is called the perception continuum (our emotional response or how we feel about it) We call these patterned ways “learning styles.”

Four Basic Learning Styles for Management and Organizations The following is a summary of the four basic learning styles (Kolb, 1984). Diverging. The Diverging style’s dominant learning abilities are Concrete Experience (CE) and Reflective Observation (RO). Managers with this learning style are best at viewing concrete situations from many different points of view. It is labeled “Diverging” because a person with it performs better in situations that call for generation of ideas, such as a “brainstorming” session. People with a Diverging learning style have broad cultural interests and like to gather information. Research shows that they are interested in people, tend to be imaginative and emotional, have broad cultural interests, and tend to specialize in the arts. In formal learning situations, people with the Diverging style prefer to work in groups, listening with an open mind and receiving personalized feedback. Assimilating. The Assimilating style’s dominant learning abilities are Abstract Conceptualization (AC) and Reflective Observation (RO). Managers with this learning style are best at understanding a wide range of information and putting into concise, logical form. Individuals with an Assimilating style are less focused on people and more interested in ideas and abstract concepts. Generally, people...

Bibliography: 1. R.J. Sternberg and L.F Zhang ,(2000). Perspectives on Cognitive ,Learning and thinking styles .NJ Lawrence Elbraum
3. ACCA (2003) “Managing people” , Foulks Lynch publications.
4. D. Knights and H. Willmott (2007). Introducing Organizational Behaviour and Management. Thomson Learning.
5. P. M. Senge (1990). The Fifth Discipline. Currency Doubleday.
6. L. A. Shepard (Educational Researcher, Oct 2000). The Role of Assessment in a Learning Culture. American Educational Research Association
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