A Study Based On Senge Model
The importance of organizational learning in organizations can never be underestimated. In Malaysian manufacturing industries, the applications of organizational learning could be the crucial factors that keep the continuous improvement going.
Organizational learning is a popular practice among manufacturing organizations. The organization learns to adapt to culture and environments changes. Organizational learning can be traced back to Cyert and March (1963) who introduced the terms of “Organizational Learning”. Some have claimed that Argyris and Schön (1978) were the first one to propose models that facilitate organizational learning. Using Gregory Bateson’s concepts of first and second order learning, they distinguish the single-loop and double-loop learning.
Organizational learning can be defined in various ways and an organization does not only able to learn but it also can unlearn in some way to enhance their continuous improvement. According to Senge’s “The Fifth Principles: The Art and Practice of The Learning Organization” book which was released in 1990, there are five disciplines in Organizational Learning. Those five disciplines are:
Each of this discipline can be used individually or in any combination to suit an organization needs. These disciplines have been used widely in public as well as private sector to produce learning organization.
This research will be focusing on the learning organization practices in Malaysian manufacturing companies based on the Senge’s five disciplines models. The manufacturing companies will be selected from three manufacturing industries which is automotive, electronics and ICT. The independent variables in this research would be the Senge Five Disiplines Model and the dependent variables in this research would be Learning Organizational.
In order to remain competitive, Malaysian manufacturing companies have been actively looking for ways to become learning organization .The only way to stay ahead in this global business environment is the rate of learning of the organization is greater than the rate of change.
Mainly, this study tries to investigate the learning organization characteristics based on Peter Senge’s Model in Malaysian Manufacturing firms. Specifically this study attempt to answer these questions:
Is there any evidence of learning organization traits based on Senge Model in the selected manufacturing firms?
What is the element in Senge LO Model that is dominant in the selected manufacturing firms?
How significance is the difference of LO dimension between the three clusters of manufacturing firms?
To investigate the evidence of learning organization traits based on Senge Model in the selected manufacturing firms.
To determine the element in Senge LO Model that is dominant in the selected manufacturing firms
To determine whether there is a significance difference in the dimension of LO in three clusters of the manufacturing firms.
1.4 Scope, Limitations and Key Assumption of the project
This study is based on Senge’s model of learning organization. One of the models concerning description of learning organization is Peter Senge’s model. The essence of this model is the interconnectedness between individual learning and organizational learning. Organization cannot learn until all the members begin to learn. (Senge, 1990). The respondents will be selected from three sectors of manufacturing in Malaysia; automotive, electronics and ICT.
There are some limitations in this research. This research will not cover an organization culture and organization points of view in both of these concept since time limitations as well as geographical factors. This research only covers manufacturing companies in Malaysia and will not be able to done research any other area or country. This might lead the results of the research only on that particular area.
Some of the respondent (Managers and Supervisors) may refuse to respond since some of the companies stated some rules on regulation about company confidentiality.
1.5 Importance of the Project
This study was made to investigate the implementation of organizational learning concept in Malaysian manufacturing concept. This study was also made to determine the dominant element in Senge’s five disciplines that have been applied in Malaysian manufacturing companies. By achieving both of these objectives, the researcher may able to know the progress and growth of Malaysian manufacturing in the organizational learning. This research also one of the few research that focusing on Senge’s five disciplines.
This research was hoped to give more understanding to managers and supervisors in applying organizational learning as well as building a learning organization. This research may be able to give manager a clearer view on Senge’s five disciplines and the effects of it on an organization. It may also give the industrial a new view on the difference in the dimension of organizational learning in three clusters of the manufacturing organizations.
This chapter consists of the directions of this research. The introduction explains briefly the meaning of organizational learning and Senge’s five disciplines. This chapter also explains the objectives of this research as well as the research questions of this study.
The significance of this research is it will explain the nature of a learning organization based on Malaysian manufacturing companies. It will also discover how well Senge’s model is recognized by the companies.
This chapter highlights the literature review on organizational learning which consist the definition of the organizational learning as well as the rich history of it. It will explain about Senge Five Disciplines Models. This study used various reference materials as a guide lines such as books, journals, thesis and other published medium. The information from this research can be used to strengthen the understanding and conceptualized research framework.
2.2 Organizational Learning
Organizational Learning is considered one of the most powerful tools in an organization continuous improvement. Organizational learning can be defined in many ways since there are no absolute ways to implement organizational learning in an organization but there is only one goal in organizational learning which is people on all levels in an organizational by individually or by group continually and consistently improves their knowledge and ability on performing to work given to them.
Organizational learning is really important as its give an organization a clear vision or milestones where and what the organization wants to achieve in few years ahead. It also important to know that your organization grows through the years by learning and that is just what organizational learning can do for an organization. As today electrical and electronic industry become more competitive than ever, it is important and at the same time relieving to know that your organization is learning and got what it takes to compete.
2.2.1 Definition of Organizational Learning
Organizational learning has been around for a long period of time and there were more than one definition to define organizational learning.
Arygis(1977) defines organizational learning as “detection and correction of errors”. He sees that an organization learns from the individuals or the workers. He stated that “The individuals’ learning activities, in turn, are facilitated or inhibited by an ecological system of factors that may be called an organizational learning system” (Arygris, 1977, p.117)
One of the theorists in this field, Huber (1991) viewed organizational learning from behavioral perspective. “An entity learns if, through its processing of information, the range of its potential behaviors is changed.” (Huber, 1991) From this statement, an individual’s effectiveness or potential does not always improve by learning. In addition to that, learning does not need to lead to changes that can be seen in behavior. Knowledge acquisition, information distribution, information interpretation, and organizational memory is a four construct as integrally linked to organizational learning as has been considered by Huber. He explained that learning does not need to be conscious or intentional.
Some other notable definitions of organizational learning from well-known theorist in the field are:
“The ability of an organization to gain insight and understanding from experience through experimentation, observation, analysis, and a willingness to examine both successes and failures” (McGill et al, 1992).
“in which you cannot not learn because learning is so insinuated into the fabric of life.” (Senge, 1990)
“a group of people continually enhancing their capacity to create what they want to create.”(Senge, 1990)
“A Learning Company is an organisation that facilitates the learning of all its members and continuously transforms itself”(Mike Pedlar, Tom Boydell, John Burgoyne, 1988)
“The Learning Organisation can mean two things : it can mean an organisation which learns and / or organisation which encourages learning in its people. It should mean both” (Charles Handy, 1989)
2.2.2 History of Organizational Learning
As has been mentioned before in chapter 1, organizational learning was first introduced by Cyert and March (1963). The concept of System Thinking was introduced in the 1950s. This concept implying that the organization needs to be aware about the organization as well as the individuals on the organization. Before this concept was introduced, most company only focus on the organization goals without considering the workers needs. This concept was never implemented in any organization at that time. Gould-Kreutzer Associates, Inc. defined System Thinking as:
“A framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things; to see the forest and the trees.” (Gould-Kreutzer Associates, Inc)
This statement clearly stated that system thinking is concept that not only focusing on business or an organizational goals but to focus individuals needs and goals. The forest here is a metaphor for organization and the trees is a metaphor for individuals or workers in the organization. This concept is trying to change the managerial views at that time from being business goals-oriented to continuous improvement.
From the concept of System Thinking, a new system emerged which was called Decision Support System (DSS). This concept is changing the traditional way of decisions making. This new model help executive to make decisions for the company future. Incidentally, the model benefits management more rather than the system’s operation. This is because the model more focuses on what the business really was and providing the alternatives for the future. One of DSS major contribution is that it made implicit knowledge explicit. This has caused the organization have more knowledge to explore and learn better than before since explicit knowledge spread much faster throughout the organization. Because of this, DSS can be seen as additional method of communication.
The idea of this concept later was renamed into organizational learning in 1970s. Some have claimed that the term of “Organizational Learning” was introduced by Cyert and March (1963). One of the earliest theorists in organizational learning was and still is Chris Arygris. He published a book entitled “Organizational Learning” in 1978 and “Organizational Learning II” in 1996. At that time, Organizational Learning concept was still not taken seriously by any organizations.
Not until Peter Senge published the book “The Fifth Principles: The Art and Practice of The Learning Organization” in 1990 the organizational learning is taken importantly. This book influence many organizations to start taking Organizational learning into consideration. Since then, organizational learning has evolved until what of we known as today.
2.3 The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization
In 1990, Peter Senge, one of the theorist and gurus in Organizational Learning published a book that changed the managerial views. The book entitled The Fifth Principles: The Art and Practice of The Learning Organization. In the book, Senge list out five discipline that is a must in a learning organizational. The five disciplines are Personal Mastery, System Thinking, Mental Models, Shared Vision and Team Learning.
2.3.1 Personal Mastery
“Organizations learn only through individuals who learn. Individual learning does not guarantee organizational learning. But without it no organizational learning occurs” (Senge, 1990, p.139)
“Personal mastery is the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively” (Senge, 1990, p. 7)
“It goes beyond competence and skills, although it involves them. It goes beyond spiritual opening, although it involves spiritual growth” (Senge, 1990, p. 141)
From these citations from Senge, we can conclude that an organization only learns when the individuals or the workers in the organizations start to learn. Personal mastery it’s a traits that every individuals should have. The higher level of personal mastery an individual has the stronger their will to continue learning and improve themselves.
Peter Senge mentioned in his book Personal Mastery as “People with a high level of personal mastery live in a continual learning mode. They never ‘arrive’. Sometimes, language, such as the term ‘personal mastery’ creates a misleading sense of definiteness, of black and white. But personal mastery is not something you possess. It is a process. It is a lifelong discipline. People with a high level of personal mastery are acutely aware of their ignorance, their incompetence, their growth areas. And they are deeply self-confident. Paradoxical? Only for those who do not see the ‘journey is the reward”. (Senge, 1990, p.142)
From what Senge has cited, we know that the goals are not the reward; the journey toward the goals is the reward itself. The lifelong process of learning is what Personal Mastery is all about. The acknowledgement of not knowing and the desire to learn is what drives an individual to learn and to achieve Personal Mastery. In other words, without Personal Mastery disciplines in the individuals, the organizations might never start to learn.
Those who have a high level of Personal Mastery might often find asking these kinds of questions to themselves;
Why do I have to learn this?
Why is it important to learn?
To summarize it, personal Mastery helps and guides an individual to realize what they have and what they don’t. It also makes an individual aware of their attitude and belief as well as be responsible to their action.
2.3.2 System Thinking
In his book, Peter Senge also includes a system theory among the five disciplines. Some have claimed that system thinking is the conceptual cornerstone of the Senge’s five discipline models. This mainly because of peter Senge said it himself; “It is the discipline that integrates the others, fusing them into a coherent body of theory and practice” (Senge, 1990, p.12)
Senge explained more on system thinking in his book. He mentioned system thinking is interconnected with other four disciplines. “Systems thinking also needs the disciplines of building shared vision, mental models, team learning, and personal mastery to realize its potential. Building shared vision fosters a commitment to the long term. Mental models focus on the openness needed to unearth shortcomings in our present ways of seeing the world. Team learning develops the skills of groups of people to look for the larger picture beyond individual perspectives. And personal mastery fosters the personal motivation to continually learn how our actions affect our world.” (Senge, 1990, p.12)
System thinking can be said as a system that should be use on overcoming problems as a whole, not only on that particular problem. Focusing only on specific part or problem may lead to unwanted or unintended consequences. Instead of focusing only on that specific parts or problems System Thinking take larger accounts and investigate the interactions of the parts or problems with every other parts of the system.
This characteristic makes it an effective solving method especially when dealing with difficult types of problems. The problems that involving complex issues and needed to be seen by “big picture”, the problems that recurring or depending on the past, and the problems which the solution are not obvious are the ones that needed the application of System Thinking.
As Peter Senge said in his book, “We learn best from our experience, but we never directly experience the consequences of many of our most important decisions”,(Senge, 1990, p.23) we tend to focus only on the solution that problems cause but only on the short-terms. System Thinking forces an organization not only focusing on the solution for improvement for a shot-term but at the long-term as well.
Peter Senge also urged organizations to use System map. System map is a diagram showing the important elements or parts in the organization and how they were connected to each other.
Here is the example of System Map.
Figure 2.1 System Map Learning Organizations
2.3.3 Mental Models
Peter Senge defines Mental Models as “deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures and images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action” (Senge, 1990, p.8)
Mental models are the vision we have in our mind. How our mind process the things we see and what we expect to happen in the future. For example, when we see a bullet shot to a balloon, our mind would come out with what would happen to the balloon. Most of us would have the vision of the balloon explode. From this example, we can assume that our mind can share the same vision. Applying this to an organization, if the workers or individuals in the organization shared the same vision, they can changed their behavior and shape their strategies and internal ways of working.
“The discipline of mental models starts with turning the mirror inward; learning to unearth our internal pictures of the world, to bring them to the surface and hold them rigorously to scrutiny. It also includes the ability to carry on ‘learningful’ conversations that balance inquiry and advocacy, where people expose their own thinking effectively and make that thinking open to the influence of others.” (Senge, 1990, p.9)
From this citation, Peter Senge said that every thought should be mentioned and exposed so everyone can learn and influence from ones thought. By doing this, an organization can start learning as everyone will start to learn new skills and develop new orientations parallel to the organization goals. Senge also said that Mental Models is “Moving the organization in the right direction entails working to transcend the sorts of internal politics and game playing that dominate traditional organizations. In other words it means fostering openness” (Senge, 1990, p.273-286).
Senge continued by saying “It also involves seeking to distribute business responsibly far more widely while retaining coordination and control. Learning organizations are localized organizations” (Senge, 1990, p.287-301)
Models are not perfect but sometimes it can be useful. In this case, Mental Models are not an exceptional but if the organization using it in the right ways, there are so many things it can learn from it.
2.3.4 Building Shared Vision
Shared vision refers to the ability for an organization to share or hold the same goals or future that they want to achieve. According to Senge, building a shared vision is “the capacity to hold a share picture of the future we seek to create” (Senge, 1990, p.9)
Building a shared vision for an organization is very important. All individuals in the organization will work toward one goal, which will make the organization, become more effective. This also can foster a sense of the long term which is fundamentally one of the five disciplines core beliefs.
When there is a genuine vision (as opposed to the all-to-familiar ‘vision statement’), people excel and learn, not because they are told to, but because they want to. But many leaders have personal visions that never get translated into shared visions that galvanize an organizationâ€¦ What has been lacking is a discipline for translating vision into shared vision – not a ‘cookbook’ but a set of principles and guiding practices.(Senge, 1990, p.9)
“The practice of shared vision involves the skills of unearthing shared ‘pictures of the future’ that foster genuine commitment and enrolment rather than compliance. In mastering this discipline, leaders learn the counter-productiveness of trying to dictate a vision, no matter how heartfelt.” (Senge, 1990, p.9)
It is very important for any organization leader to realize the importance of shared vision. The leader not only should be able to command the workers to do things but also to create a learning organization which the workers not only learn continuously because they have to, but because they want to. The individuals in the organization also play an important role in shared vision. They must clearly understand the shared vision of the organization and also know where they are at the present and they want to be in the future.
2.3.5 Team Learning
According to Senge, team learning is “the process of aligning and developing the capacities of a team to create the results its members truly desire”(Senge, 1990, p.236)
By having Personal Mastery and Shared Vision, an organization may have Team Learning. But most of the times it is not enough. An organization needs to get the workers to act together. By having the workers work together as a team, the shared vision and personal mastery become better and the organizational learning can be achieve.
“The discipline of team learning starts with ‘dialogue’, the capacity of members of a team to suspend assumptions and enter into a genuine ‘thinking together’. To the Greeks dia-logos meant a free-flowing if meaning through a group, allowing the group to discover insights not attainable individuallyâ€¦. [It] also involves learning how to recognize the patterns of interaction in teams that undermine learning”. (Senge, 1990, p.10)
To start team learning, the individuals of the organization must start to speak their mind up. In my opinion, this is what Senge means by “dialogue”. When people start to speak up their mind, other people would give their own opinion and start a discussion or a “genuine thinking together”. It also helps the group to achieve an insight which might not be able to be achieved by thinking individually. By using team learning, the team may identify the kind of interaction that may stop the learning progress in the team.
“As people talk, the vision grows clearer. As it gets clearer, enthusiasm for its benefits grow'” (Senge, 1990, p.227)
By constantly sharing insightful information and knowledge, the visions become clearer and the enthusiasm will be spread among the individuals in the organization.
2.4 Relationships between Senge Five Disciplines Model, Organizational Learning and Malaysian manufacturing companies.
Manufacturing industry is probably one of the most competitive industries in Malaysia. That’s why it is very important for the manufacturing companies to keep learning. The companies that capable of learning will have a big advantage than those who didn’t. In this research, the researcher will try to found out the evidence of Senge Five Disciplines model that forms a learning organization in Malaysian manufacturing companies. In recent years, Malaysian manufacturing companies begin to adapt to the learning organization theories but it was never been proved that Senge Five disciplines models were used in their effort on becoming a learning organization.
From this chapter, we can conclude that there are the relationship exists between Senge Five Disciplines Model, Organizational Learning and Malaysian manufacturing companies. By understanding the relationship between these three, the question now arise as to which disciplines from the five disciplines are the dominant element in Malaysian manufacturing companies. The theoretical framework for this research as in Table 2.1
Malaysian Manufacturing Companies
Personal MasteryIndependent Variables
Table 2.1 Theoretical Framework
This chapter outlines the research the research design for this study and the manner in which the research was conducted. The research methodology used in this study is described. This chapter consists of research design, method research design, primary and secondary data sources, research strategy, and scientific canons. The instruments used to collect data are also described.
3.2 Research Design
“Research design can be divided into fixed and flexible research designs” (Robson, 1993). As in this research, the quantitative approach was taken. As has been described by Burns and Grove (1993, p.777) quantitative research is a formal, objective, systematic process to describe and test relationship and examine cause and effect interactions among variables. Research design is important because it gives the direction to the study and what to find that may be significant to the study.
3.2.1 Exploratory studies
An exploratory study is a type of studies or research conducted when the problems are not clearly defined. Exploratory studies usually depends on secondary research such as reviewing past journals, literature and data, interviewing experts in the industry, conducting in-depth individual interview and sometimes conducting focus group interview.
3.2.2 Descriptive studies
Descriptive studies sometimes can be referred as statistical research. “The objective of descriptive studies is to gain an accurate profile of events, persons or situations” (Saunders, 1997). Descriptive studies usually involved observing and describing the behavior of subject without influencing it in any way. Descriptive studies cannot describe what cause a situation although the data description is factual, accurate and systematic.
3.2.3 Explanatory studies
The explanatory studies explained the way of certain event. The outcomes of event could be either positive or negative. So basically, the explanatory research is a research that conducted to find out and to explain any behavior or event.
3.3 Research Design Method
The research design for this study is the by using the quantitative method. Surveys and questionnaire may be used for the descriptive, explanatory and exploratory research. The questionnaire in this research is a self-administered questionnaire. The questionnaire was made for data and information collection and it will be distributes personally by the researcher. This research design was chosen to accomplish the objectives of the study and the researcher believes that the quantitative method is the best way to meet those objectives.
3.3.1 Quantitative Method
Quantitative research method is a non-numeric data such as words, images, video clips, and other similar material. The aim of quantitative research is to develop statistically reliable information from sample data that can be generalized to a larger population (Dutka, 1995). Quantitative research uses a relatively short structured questionnaire, while the survey sample should be large enough in order to provide a statistically reliable set of responses.
The collected information is also analyzed using specific statistical techniques and quantitative tools. In the case of customer satisfaction measurement and developing new product, this type of research is focused on the quantification of satisfaction information. The most frequently used types of quantitative research are mail survey, personal interviews, and telephone surveys (Gerson, 1993).
3.4 Primary and secondary data sources
In this research, the data and information collected from two main sources which are the primary resources and the secondary resources.
3.4.1 Primary data
The primary data for this research are the book from Peter Senge which was released in 1990, The Fifth Principles: The Art and Practice of The Learning Organization. Another primary data for this research would be the questionnaire that will be distributed to three sectors of manufacturing in Malaysia; automotive, electronics and ICT. From here, the researcher will gather the data in the three sectors managers or supervisors that involved in the surveys whether by face-to-face, emails, telephone calls or any other ways.
3.4.2 Secondary data
The secondary data in this study were collected before the researcher proceeds to collect the primary data in the three sectors of manufacturing industry in Malaysia; automotive, electronics and ICT. A bunch of useful information was collected as it is already exist in the form of secondary data. The secondary data that was used in this study are journals, relevant internets site, magazines and articles.
3.5 Location of Research
The lacation or this research would be focusing on Malaysian Manufacturing. The group focus would be
3.6 Research Strategy
Research strategy can be defined as a plan for a researcher to achieve the objectives of the study as well as how the reascher going to answer the research questions. There are many strategies that can be used in research strategies such as Experimental, survey, archival research and case study.
The researchers choose the survey strategy for this study. The reason survey method was chose is because they allow the collect quantitative data and can suggest possible reasons for particular relationship between independent variables and dependent variables. It also gives the researcher more control over the research process as well as lower in cost compared to other methods. The strategies for the survey method are as follows:
Preparing the Survey
As has been mentioned before, the research will be using quantitative method where a set of survey is used to gather related data and information for this study. The questionnaire or the surveys were constructed based on the research question and research objectives. The respondent for the questionnaire would be the employees from Malaysian manufacturing industries.
Survey research design
The survey design divided to several ways. There are structured way (the formal list of questions use and all the respondents have to answer the same question) and unstructured way (the researcher investigate the respondents and guide the interview according to respondent’s answers (Kothari, C.R., 1985).) it also can be direct and indirect. The direct approach is when the researcher asks directly to the respondent about the main point. As for the indirect, the researcher will asks indirect question that may lead to discovering the main point.
The sample is the population that was choose to be respondent in the study. According to Burns and Grove (1993, p779), a population is defined as all elements (individuals, objects and events) that meet the sample criteria for inclusion is a study. The study population consisted of the employees in the Malaysian manufacturing industries.
The researcher might selected at random employees from the industries (probability sample) or the employees that easier to obtain the data and information (non-probability)
3.7 Scientific Canons
Reliability is the ability of a survey instrument to produce accurate and consistent result. There are several threats to reliability which is participant error, participant bias, and researcher error and researcher bias. To avoid these threats to interfere the research results, the researcher will conduct the research as transparent as possible and will allow others party to interfere and judge the study. The researcher will also use Cronbach’s coefficient alpha to test the interim consistency reliability of respondent’s answer to all items in measure.
3.7.2 Construct Validity
Construct validity refers to whether a scale or test measure what exactly the researcher tend to measure. In this study, the questionnaire was use as the tools to measure the relationships between Senge Fifth Disciplines Model with organizational learning in Malaysian manufacturing companies. To avoid threats to construct validity, the researcher build the questionnaire with the help of others (Supervisor) to avoid any bias or error in the questions. To measure the construct validity, researcher might pre-test the questionnaire in small population and if the test proved that the questionnaire have strong construct validity, the researcher then will proceed to distributed the questionnaire to the actual focus group. Another option to test the construct validity is by using ANOVA, if the time permits.
3.7.3 Internal Validity
Internal validity is the “truth” or the relationship between the independent variables with the dependent variables in the study. The other word for this relationship is the causal relationship or cause-effect relationship.
The independent variables in this study were the Senge Fifth Disciplines Model while the dependent variables for this study were the organizational learning. Internal validity is about causal control. In this case, the only reasons the manufacturing companies in Malaysia learn is because the implementation of Senge Fifth Disciplines in the organization.
There are several threats in the internal validity such as past and recent events, testing and instrumentation so to avoid these threats to interfere with the study, the researcher will consult the expert (Supervisor) for advice.
3.7.4 External Validity
External validity is the ability to generalize the study to other people and other situation. “External validity asks the question of generalizability: To what populations, settings, treatment variables and measurement variables can this effect be generalized?”(Campbell, Stanley, 1966)
For this research it has the external validity since it talks about organizational learning which can be applied at any other manufacturing company in the world. However, there are some threats in this study in external validity.
Since this study is focusing on Malaysian manufacturing companies, the results might be only used in Malaysia or country that have almost the same manufacturing industries growth.
To summarize it, this chapter explains about the method that will be used for this study. The steps to gather the information and data would be quantitative method. To be narrower, the survey method was chosen and the questionnaire will be distributed. The source of primary data and secondary data were also explained. The focus group for this research, the validity and reliability of this research were discussed by the researcher.Order Now