Organizational Learning: The Exploration of Work Culture

Organizational Learning: The Exploration of Work Culture

Patricia Goodman (Northeastern University, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1049-9.ch074


In this information age, people are able to secure information, search for answers, and make informed decisions. Nonetheless, organizations are challenged to develop strong cultures and be agile to change. This paper initiates the exploration into organizational culture and the impact of employees' work culture. The focus is on working-class and societies having experienced social traumas and political changes, which ultimately formulate shared mental models and translate into work culture. By examining various societal scenes, questions are posed to deconstruct the impact of politics on workers and their work ethic. These scenes illustrate interactions and perspectives, which describe shared values by employees defined as work culture. Multiple levels of inquiry are presented to encourage further investigation into this possible opposing cultural dynamic within organizations. Suggestions of storytelling and meaning making are offered to support leaders in being strategic through staff development and organizational learning.
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The climate of the political landscape for the 2016 American presidential campaign illustrates how differences divide. As of March 2016, the Democratic leaders head to head are Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders facing a group of Republicans with an unexpected lead from Donald Trump and hopeful to close the nominations Ted Cruz. There are four very diverse individuals having various communication styles, philosophies, ethnicities, socioeconomic histories, and educational experiences. Each candidate has a mix of supporters both culturally and multi-generational. When referring to culture, a common thought is placed on beliefs, traditions, foods, and language. Yet, this political campaign highlights how groups of people closely identify with a certain ideology and culture. As the 2016 political campaign is spotlighted in social media, the different sides clash in various spaces, Twitter is a hot bed of opinions, claims, and insults. How might politics influence cultures? Just consider the range of cultures that influence our values and perspectives, how might these cultures impact our behavior? What unconscious assumptions might influence our conversations and decisions?

Conversations and decisions are making impacts across the globe. Meta-analysis research has discovered that global conversations through social media supported protestors to step out to the streets for democracy across the Arab Spring, covering Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Algeria, just to name a few (Seeberg, 2013, Howard, Duffy, Freelon, Hussain, Mari, & Maziad, 2001). Monarchies and religious oligarchies profoundly influence followers and direct ideology. Although these ideologies may influence how people think and behave, history has documented time and time again that the working class rise up against the establishment. “Imposing cultural values and political structures, history teaches us, can lead to centuries of repeated conflicts (Casmir, 1995, p. 319).” Take into consideration that these thoughts and experiences are packaged in our mind as mental models (Johnson-Laird, 1983). When people with shared mental models band together, how might this unity affect their decisions?

Key Terms in this Chapter

Political Systems: A system that governs a society, such as a democracy, communism, dictatorship, or monarchy.

Work Culture: The shared values, mental models, and perceptions between workers.

Dialogue: A rich form of communication exchanging elements of listening, asking, and sharing with a common goal of developing shared meaning.

Organizational learning: The process by which an organization moves through a change process developing a new behavior different from a previous behavior.

Staff Development: A process of determining employee training needs and providing opportunities for the staff to grow in skills and knowledge.

Mental Models: A cognitive process representing a way a person remembers and frames experiences, ideas, knowledge, relationships, or processes.

Leadership: The ability to guide followers, influence behaviors, and interpret organizational strategy.

Organizational Culture: The shared vision, mission, values, symbols, and behaviors within an organization.

Storytelling: A person offering a personal anecdote, generally brief, entertaining, and involving the teller.

Leader: Individual who have authority over people and processes within an organization.

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