Publication Date

Summer 8-2017

Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

Ryland White

Second Advisor

Aqeel Tirmizi

Abstract

An increased push for accountability in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has led to the imperative for what was previously an internal management practice widely-utilized in the private sector: organizational learning. Learning initiatives support organizations to utilize resources more effectively and to reach their objectives with adaptive strategies.

In this paper, I explore the many components belonging to the organizational learning umbrella term from multiple disciplines, grounding my inquiry in the context of international NGOs. The findings from my qualitative research highlight aspects of learning and knowledge management in addition to organizational change and culture; to provide a comprehensive understanding of organizational learning and how it is optimally implemented. Notable attention is given to the apparent contrast of national culture and learning culture. I examined my research through a framework adapted from social capital theory, which categorizes learning into structural, relational and cognitive aspects. Analyzing learning initiatives through these three aspects provides a comprehensive understanding of how organizational learning systems are successfully implemented throughout a multinational organization, particularly at the field level of international NGOs.

I conducted qualitative interviews with experts and field managers to complement the literature review and draw recommendations. These insights are valuable for senior management, field managers and field staff to utilize in advocating for and carrying out organizational learning systems.

Disciplines

International and Area Studies | Leadership Studies | Organization Development

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