What are the right skills? An investigation of an organisation’s journey towards becoming a learning organisation, and the skills that help leaders to create the conditions and structures characteristic of a learning organisation
2015-01-16T12:53:27Z (GMT) by
The concepts of organisational learning and the learning organisation have been discussed and debated extensively in the literature, with some writers arguing that many organisations are not relying on continuous learning and development, and react with different strategies to external change, and with others defending the point of view that organisational learning or becoming a learning organisation is key to keeping up with the changes happening in the world, such as globalisation, increased competition and rapid technological advances. This study addresses the above concepts within the context of the hospitality industry, in particular the international hotel industry, and aims to provide some measures and clarity to the question of what the right skills are that help leaders creating the conditions and structures characteristic of a learning organisation, as well as to address the potential gap in the literature around the limited availability of research about the learning organisation and organisational learning in the hospitality industry. The research follows a two-phase case study design, using an organisation in the international hotel industry that had recently introduced a ‘designthinking’ programme, the vehicle through which learning organisation reforms were introduced into the case study organisation with the stated objective to foster innovation and to differentiate the organisation from its competitors, as a research setting. The findings of this study suggest that organisations in the hospitality industry embarking on this journey of becoming a learning organisation should consider the leadership skills and mind-sets as identified in this research for the design of their leadership models, such as the ability to encourage experimentation, reward and foster failure and demonstrating a commitment to learning. This will assist them in the creation of a learning-supportive culture where employees are involved and participate, are empowered to make their own decisions and have trust in leadership to take risks and foster innovation. The study contributes to foster a better understanding by practitioners of the interaction between leadership skills and organisational learning, thus highlighting the importance of those skills and mind-sets in the creation of a learning organisation, and also reveals some interesting findings around the value and applicability of the learning organisation concept in the hotel industry.