Organisational Learning Introduction Over the years, a number of researchers have examined the concept of organisational learning. Lopez, Peon & Ordas (2005: 227-243) observe that, organisational learning is a dynamic process that involves acquiring, creating and integrating knowledge so as to develop an organisation’s capabilities and enhance its performance in the long-run. Similarly, Skerlavaj, Stemberger, Skrinjar & Dimovski (2007: 346-367) are of the opinion that organisational learning involves a combination of four key processes within an organisation. These processes include; acquisition, dissemination, memorisation and interpretation of information. Prosser (2010: 69) provides a different perspective on organisational learning.
He notes that organisational learning is culture within an organisation where people continuously engage in learning in order to broaden their knowledge and skills so that they can realise results that they desire. He further notes that, in an organisation with a learning culture, new patterns of thinking are nurtured and people learn together (Prosser 2010: 69). Over time, the concept of organisational learning has gained increasing attention and has been adapted in a number of organisations due to its role when it comes to enhancing organisational performance.
A number of studies show that organisational learning can help to enhance an organisation’s competitive advantage, enhance business performance, increases employee capabilities, facilitate behaviour change with the organisation and enable organisations to manage changes effectively (Harrison 2009; Gibb 2008; Murray & Donegan 2003; Tippins & Sohi 2003). Nevertheless, in as much as numerous studies have established the significance of organisational learning, to date many organisations are still having difficulties in making organisational learning a reality. This essay seeks to provide a critical discussion as to why organisations appear to have such difficulty in making organisational learning a reality.
It will specifically focus on British Airways. Foremost, this essay will provide a brief background of British Airways. Secondly, it will examine how organisational learning is implemented at British Airways. Subsequently, this essay will critically look at some of the key difficulties or limitations of organisational learning at British Airways and establish why the company appears to have such difficulty in making organisational learning a reality. Lastly, this essay will provide three key proposals or recommendations that can be implemented in order to ensure that effective organisational learning is a reality at British Airways.
Background: British AirwaysBritish Airways (BA) is a full service multinational airline based in the United Kingdom. The airline was founded in 1971 following a merger between British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) and British European Airways (BEA). The airline has since experienced tremendous growth and success such that it is considered to be among the leading airlines globally. In terms of fleet size, international flights and passenger numbers, British Airways is considered to be the largest airline in the United Kingdom.
It is currently estimated that the airline has over 500 destinations and at least 57, 000 employees working in different operation bases around the world (British Airways 2012; Russell & Cohn 2012). Organisational Learning in British Airways Human resource management policies at British Airways incorporate provisions on organisational learning. Moreover, the company’s business strategy accentuates on investing in people. In addition to this, British Airways has a learning division specifically aimed at facilitating, encouraging and developing initiatives of organisational learning. The company acknowledges that in order to develop its competitive edge in the market and develop a high-performing business it needs to equip its employees with relevant knowledge, skills and expertise through organisational learning (British Airways 2012; British Airways 2012b; British Airways 2009; Summerfield 2005).
In an attempt to implement organisational learning, over the years British Airways has instituted various programs and initiatives aimed at training, acquiring, creating and integrating knowledge in order to develop the company’s capabilities, bring changes and enhance its performance in the long-run. For instance, the company initiated the Putting People First (PPF) program.
Basically, this program focuses on equipping employees with relevant knowledge and skills in customer service. To date, over 40, 000 employees have undergone comprehensive customer service training through the PPF training program. Furthermore, the company has also initiated the Managing People First (MPF). This program mainly aims at training employees on issues relating to leadership, culture, building trust, vision and customer feedback (Emerge Education 2012).