Making Organizational Learning Work: Lessons from a High Reliability Organization

Making Organizational Learning Work: Lessons from a High Reliability Organization

John J. Sullivan (University of South Florida, USA) and Roger Beach (University of Bradford, UK)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 8
DOI: 10.4018/jbir.2012070105
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This paper reports findings from an ongoing study to understand the dynamics of operational reliability. Previously, the study identified weaknesses in organizational settings that inhibited learning opportunities, specifically the ability to learn from failure (Sullivan et al., 2008). Effective organizational learning strategies are critical in promoting operational reliability, specifically recovering from operational failures or preventing them altogether (Sullivan, 2007). There is considerable debate over the effectiveness of organizational learning and there is evidence that shows that it can, and in some cases must, work. The U.S. Navy demonstrates exceptional learning capabilities, learning from failure and even learning without failure. Further, the Navy’s knowledge management practices have proven effective over time as generations of military personnel, civil servants, and contractors learn from the experiences of their predecessors (Sullivan, 2007).
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3. Background

The organization involved in this study manufactures outboard cables for US Navy submarines. Outboard cables carry signals between electronic devices and must remain reliable under the intense pressures of the harsh underwater environment. While these cables do not represent a single point of failure for a submarine, cable failures can limit a submarine’s ability to carry out its mission.

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