An assessment of the Liverpool City Council raising achivement service as a learning organisation
AbstractThe increasing pace of change has created a general consensus that organisations need to find better ways to learn (Argyris 1999). Concepts of the Learning Organisation and organisational learning have developed from a subject for serious academic study to a 'hot boardroom topic' (Burnes 2004). Although as relevant these days to public sector organizations, there has been much less research in this area, and what does exist tends to emphasise the negative impact of public sector bureaucracy, hierarchy and political influence on capacity to learn. This research investigates the Liverpool City Council Raising Achievement Service, one department in the now integrated Children's Services, which successfully transformed itself following a disastrous 1999 Ofsted inspection of what was then the L.E.A. The research takes place at a particular time of change and uncertainty when the future of the Service, and the individuals in it, are under threat. This is impacting on the clarity of the organisation's 'vision' and on individuals' perceptions of their capacity to influence the new agenda. Following a phenomenological philosophy the research uses a mixture of inductive and deductive approaches which incorporate existing literature and normative frameworks (in particular Senge, 1990; Marsick & Watkins, 1993; Pedler, Burgoyne & Boydell, 1997) to create the research instruments. A review of the literature leads the author to the construction of a conceptual model which links the three inter-dependent levels of learning: individual, collective (group) and systems-wide or organisational learning. There is no yes or no answer to the question of whether the R.A. Service is a learning organization, and if it is accepted as Finger & Brand (1999) state, that it is an ideal to aspire to, then it is concluded that there is evidence of both positive and negative contributory factors. It is clear from the research that strengths in one area (e.g. individual learning) will be adversely affected or at worst negated, by weaknesses in another (e.g. structures and systems). The report ends with recommendations to improve organisational learning at this crucial time.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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