I have been on this list for a while, but have not introduced myself (at
first, for lack of courage, then for lack of time).
Here are a few details: I have just completed an MA in Management Learning
at Lancaster University - that's where I met John Burgoyne and the notion
of organizational learning as well as his concept of the Learning Company.
This degree is part of a major change in my life: before, I taught English
in Germany and German (my native language) in various English schools -
organizations trying to 'sell' learning to others whilst not granting
themselves too much of it... I am still interested in exploring, promoting
and facilitating learning - but not enforcing it (I don't think it works
that way). And whilst still loving children, I prefer more personal
relationships with 'quality before quantity'. I also prefer working with
At present, I am working as a research assistant at Sheffield Hallam
University on an interdisciplinary project on "Learning Processes in the
Chartered Surveying Profession" (commissioned by the surveyors'
professional body, the RICS), which is exploring the connection between
organizational learning theory and professional practice as well as
individual learning. Using the Burgoyne/Boydell/Pedler model of the
'Learning Company' and a combination of quantitative and qualitative
research methods (e.g. the Learning Company Questionnaire, in-depth
interviewing) we (i.e. the project team) are checking out whether there is
a correlation between Learning Company features and organizations/firms
being successful. Of course, such a correlation does not prove that there
is a link between those two (they could both be linked to a third
criterion, for example), not to speak of a causal relationship. But then
it is not the aim of this research to provide any 'hard proof' for any
We aim to provide ideas and recommendations which need to be put into
practice, tried and tested out. If a significant percentage of successful
firms display Learning Company features X, Y and Z, then there may be a
link. It is at this point that a quantitatively established correlation
would need to be followed up and explored by in-depth qualitative research
in order to provide further information on the learning strategies in
practice, and whether it would be worthwhile for other firms to try out X,
Y or Z in order to find out whether it 'works for them'. Findings could
then be taken to a visioning group within the RICS (e.g. the Executive
Group) in order to identify practical strategies to lead the profession
into the future.
At the moment, we are preparing a pilot questionnaire to select a number
of successful firms, and I am ploughing through the organizational
learning literature to identify learning practices. I find a lot of theory
and not enough practice, though! That's one of the reasons why I am here:
to get more of an idea of actual learning organization practices. After
all, the RICS do not expect 'just' a theoretical framework or 'cookbook'
recommendations, but something between those two extremes.
As far as I know, there has been no research into organizational learning
within a whole profession (or professional association) yet, so this is a
new field. But if there have been similar projects I would be grateful to
learn about them.
Generally I welcome any kind of feedback, recommendation or questions -
but bear with me if you don't get an answer straightaway.
Oh, and before I really stop this long story: It's not JUST surveyors and
organizational learning I m interested in, it's also group and
organizational dynamics (I wrote my dissertation on the Tavistock
conference); the relationship between consultancy and psychotherapy; dance
and other non-verbal communication; ethnography; the connection between
sexuality and spirituality; and... getting enough sleep to keep going.
-- Fides Matzdorf School of Urban and Regional Studies, Sheffield Hallam University F.Matzdorf@SHU.AC.UK