August 01, 2009

Human Resource Management Lesson 6

Human Resource Management Lesson 6

Question 1: Thinking about an organisation that you know well, evaluate the extent to which it conforms with the LO model.

As mentioned in the student notes the notion of what comprises a Learning Organisation (LO) is a contested one. Working for the Nordic Processor (NP) which is a Joint Venture (JV) between IBM and Nordea Bank in Scandinavia, our organization consists of employees coming from both IBM and Nordea. The notion of LO here is somewhat differently understood and interpreted. One should also point out that the IBM’s practices and views on LO are predominant in the joint venture. However, the application and the interpretations of LO are biased by both organizations and their history. NP consists of at least 2 types of employees coming from the bank and the other group coming from IBM. The organisation is using employee involvement in all major decisions, professional career guidance, training and development of staff. There is extensive involvement of HR department in all matters regarding employees and the HR works closely with managers in order to ensure that the processes and policies are followed in the joint venture. Storey’s (1992) typology of HR functions would place the role of HR in Nordic Processor between Advisory and Change-makers categories. In this sense I would like to point out the concept of high “commitment” that the employees share with the management regarding the success of the company and in maintaining high satisfaction levels with the customer. In Meyer’s and Allen’s (1984) terminology we could say that there is a high level of “affective commitment” in Nordic Processor. In this sense, one may argue that Nordic Processor is a learning organization based also on high level of “psychological contract” between the management and the employees. The very existence and survival of any organisation including Nordic Processor as a Learning Organisation may be dependent on the mutually beneficial negotiation and proper implementation of the psychological contract.

Question 2: What changes would need to take place within the organisation to make it a learning organisation?

In most cases LO initiatives take place as a reaction to some external threat to the company, which is an action that generally lacks offensive initiative. Scarborough et al. (1998) argue that an organisation where professional development is encouraged and within which people learn is a successful LO. There are a number of both internal and external barriers that need to be addressed in this regard. The internal barriers that need to be addressed are different culture for the old bank management in relative comparison to IBM managers and their way of conducting business. Other internal barriers worth mentioning are the hierarchical culture of IBM compared to the bank.

Question 3: To what extent do you think these changes are a) feasible and b) desirable?

The extent in which both internal and external changes will take place is dependent on the senior management’s commitment and communication to all NP employees. Here the bank’s traditional closeness to the employees and open communication may be very useful. I’d say that the changes are feasible due to high motivation and dedication of all employees regardless of their professional origin to business success of the joint venture. The changes in streamlining the organisation and securing it as a LO is imperative to its further success.

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