Renewal and Personal Mastery in Knowledge-Based Organisations: The Case of a Finnish ICT-Company

Renewal and Personal Mastery in Knowledge-Based Organisations: The Case of a Finnish ICT-Company

Päivi Lohikoski (University of Oulu, Finland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-783-8.ch510

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Introduction

Powerful technological development in society and the Internet has changed world business structures and communication infrastructure massively since the 1990s. The Internet, which enables global activities and enhances globalization, has caused an ever-faster changing business infrastructure in which knowledge at all levels plays a more crucial role than ever before. Knowledge and the ability to renew are therefore among an organisation’s key assets (Harrison & Kessels, 2004).

Plentiful research exists in many scientific fields on the organisation of learning, quality management, and change management. However, general wellbeing at work is current particularly in technology, economics, psychology, and social science research. A common understanding is that work environments must become more people-friendly for organisations to continue to innovate, creating better products and services for changing markets in a growing, knowledge-based economy (Torvi & Kiljunen, 2005). As everything in the world connects and changes, the ability to adapt and to renew becomes crucial to organisations and individuals (Ståhle & Laento, 2000). Learning and change always go hand in hand: change prompts learning and learning is a way to change. Change management means- among other tasks- managing team learning, individual learning, and learning at an organisation level (Otala, 2002; Argyris & Schön, 1996). It is the starting point to studying renewal. This study aims to recognise the state of an organisation’s intellectual capital (IC). When weaknesses and strengths are acknowledged, processes and procedures can be developed from the results.

This article is based on a study carried out in spring 2005 in a Finnish ICT-company supplying information services to a large ICT company. The study looked to increase empirical knowledge of the renewal ability of knowledge-based organisations, and of employee wellbeing in a changing work environment. The purpose was principally to investigate the state of IC in that organisation. The theoretical background for the investigation stands on principle elements of a learning organisation and IC. Research methods were qualitative; the empirical data consisted of interviews within the case study organisation. Experts, it was assumed, to possess qualities of personal mastery, and a personal responsibility for learning. It was interesting therefore to examine how an organisation’s culture and structure support or inhibit the expert’s renewal ability and contribution to the organisation’s ability to innovate and work effectively. In order to perform well, it is crucial to evaluate employees’ personal mastery, in relation to the organisation’s culture, values, goals, structure, and management practises. Performing well is also a question of power and how it is shared between employees, management and partners. In further sections the theoretical background of the study is presented, the research methods applied are described, and the main findings of the study reported. The article concludes by discussing the findings and further studies.

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