Learning to Improve: An Assessment of an Institution of Higher Education Across the Dimensions of the Learning Organization
Savannah State University faces several financial and operational challenges and is looking to improve its capacity to react to those challenges and to define and achieve its goals. The literature suggests that adopting the practices of a learning organization can help the university achieve its vision and be more effective in addressing issues. This study aims to determine to what extent the university embraces the practices of a learning organization and illuminate how the experiences of employees within the institution differ. The paper also outlines how practitioners might use this information to drive improvement. A survey was distributed to measure the perceptions of full-time employees on the learning culture of the institution. Statistical analyses revealed that the organization has substantial scope for improvement as a learning organization and that the employees' experiences differ significantly in many ways between groups. The employees' perception was that SSU forsakes practices and beliefs congruent with the measures of a learning organization more often than not. These perceptions were not homogenous, however. Organizational structures were associated with significant differences in the perceptions of employees. Furthermore, the job role of employees was also associated with significant differences. Based on these findings, recommendations are made for the university to engage in sensemaking to understand itself and be positioned to design interventions that can successfully bring about positive change. I outline a framework for an intervention that capitalizes on the information provided by this study informed by the principles of the learning organization. Finally, I propose a recursive measurement and sensemaking process to create an ongoing commitment to learning and improvement.