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T205 B

Block 04 Week 04
Managing within Organizations
Concept File 04
Section IV Development & Section V Culture & Climate

T205B-Systems' Thinking & Practice - AOULebanon Branch

Reading 21 - Organizational Learning


21.1 Can organizations learn to learn?
Basically, an organization is a group of people intentionally
organized to accomplish an overall common goal or set
of goals. Business organizations can range in size from
two people to tens of thousands.
In general an organization must have:
1. Vision
Members of the organization often have some image in
their minds about how the organization should be
working, how it should appear when things are going
well.
2. Mission
An organization operates according to an overall
purpose, or mission.

T205B-Systems' Thinking & Practice - AOULebanon Branch

Reading 21 - Organizational Learning


21.1 Can organizations learn to learn?
3.Values

Organizations operate according to overall values, or priorities


in the nature of how they carry out their activities. These
values are the personality, or culture, of the organization.
4.Strategic Goals
Organizations members often work to achieve several overall
accomplishments, or goals, as they work toward their mission.
5.Strategies
Organizations usually follow several overall general
approaches to reach their goals.
T205B-Systems' Thinking & Practice - AOULebanon Branch

Reading 21 - Organizational Learning


21.1 Can organizations learn to learn?
Can organizations learn?
Are organizations able to learn in an ongoing way?
Is this learning single loop or double loop?
What are the main barriers to learning?
Are they intrinsic to the nature of organizations, or can
they be overcome?

There is no abstract way for answering these questions,


because organizations vary in their learning capacities.

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Reading 21 - Organizational Learning


21.1 Can organizations learn to learn?
What is organizational learning?
Organizational learning is an area of knowledge within
organizational theory that studies models and theories
about the way an organization learns and adapts.
What are organizational studies?
Organizational studies involve the study of individual and
group dynamics in an organizational setting, as well as
the nature of the organizations themselves. Whenever
people interact in organizations, many factors come
into play. Organizational studies attempt to understand
and model theseT205B-Systems'
factors.
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Reading 21 - Organizational Learning


21.1 Can organizations learn to learn?
What is organizational development?
Organizational development (OD) is concerned with the
performance, development, and effectiveness of human
organizations.

In Organizational development (OD), learning is a


characteristic of an adaptive organization, i.e., an
organization that is able to sense changes in signals
from its environment (both internal and external) and
adapt accordingly.
T205B-Systems' Thinking & Practice - AOULebanon Branch

Reading 21 - Organizational Learning


21.1 Can organizations learn to learn?
What is an adaptive system?
An adaptive system is a system that is able to adapt its
behavior according to changes in its environment or in
parts of the system itself.
A human being, for instance, is certainly an adaptive
system; so are organizations and families. Some manmade systems can be made adaptive as well; for instance,
closed-loop control models utilize feedback loops in
order to sense conditions in their environment and adapt
accordingly.

T205B-Systems' Thinking & Practice - AOULebanon Branch

Reading 21 - Organizational Learning


21.1 Can organizations learn to learn?
Espoused theory and Theory In-Use
In addition to explicitly adopted theories people actually
have implicit mental models with regard to how they
act in situations, and this involves the way they plan,
implement and review their actions.
In reality it is the implicit models (also called theory-in use)
which actually guide peoples actions rather than their
explicitly adopted theories.
This could be referred to as a split between theory and
action.
T205B-Systems' Thinking & Practice - AOULebanon Branch

Reading 21 - Organizational Learning


21.1 Can organizations learn to learn?
Espoused theory and theory in-use
When someone is asked how he would behave under
certain circumstances, the answer he usually gives is his
adopted theory of action for that situation.
This is the theory of action to which he gives allegiance,
and which, upon request, he communicates to others.
However, the theory that actually governs his actions is his
theory-in-use.

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Reading 21 - Organizational Learning


21.1 Can organizations learn to learn?
Making this distinction allows us to ask the question of

whether there is similarity between the two.


This is important because effectiveness results from
developing a correspondence between theory-in-use
and adopted/espoused theory.
For example, in explaining our actions to a colleague we
may call upon some convenient piece of theory. We might
explain our sudden rush out of the office to others, or even
to ourselves at some level, by saying that a 'crisis' had
arisen with one of 'our' clients.
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Reading 21 - Organizational Learning


21.1 Can organizations learn to learn?
The theory-in-use might be quite different.
We may have become bored and tired by the paper work
or meeting and felt that a quick trip out of an apparently
difficult situation would bring welcome relief.
A key role of reflection we could argue is to reveal the

theory-in-use and to explore the nature of the 'fit'.

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Reading 21 - Organizational Learning


Single-loop and double-loop learning
According to Argyris and Schon (1978:2) learning involves the
detection and correction of error.
When something goes wrong governing variables such as given
or chosen goals, values, plans and rules are
operationalized rather than questioned.
This is called single-loop learning.
An alternative response is to question the governing variables
themselves, to subject them to critical scrutiny.
This is described as double-loop learning.
Such learning may then lead to an alteration in the governing
variables and, thus, a shift in the way in which strategies
and consequences are framed.
This is how the process of organizational learning is usually
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Reading 21 - Organizational Learning


Single-loop and double-loop learning
When the error detected and corrected permits the
organization to carry on its present policies or achieve
its present objectives, then that error-and-correction
process is single-loop learning.
Single-loop learning is like a thermostat that learns when it is
too hot or too cold and turns the heat on or off.
The thermostat can perform this task because it can receive
information (the temperature of the room) and take
corrective action.

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Reading 21 - Organizational Learning


Single-loop and double-loop learning
Double-loop learning occurs when error is detected and
corrected in ways that involve the modification of an
organizations underlying norms, policies and
objectives.
While many organizations are proficient at single-loop
learning, double-loop learning is rather elusive.
This is especially true for bureaucratic organizations which
do not support flexibility, creativity and innovation, and
obstruct the learning process.
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Reading 21 - Organizational Learning


Single-loop and double-loop learning
The three most important obstructions which are also found
in non-bureaucratic organizations include:
1.

Adopting a reductionist approach for dealing with


problems where the overall task is broken down into
small parts, without recognizing the overall picture.
This can result in some conflict in interests and goals.
Under such circumstances the existence of single-loop
learning makes it very difficult to challenge operating
standards (double-loop learning).
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Reading 21 - Organizational Learning


Single-loop and double-loop learning
The three most important obstructions which are also
found in non-bureaucratic organizations include:
2.

Rewarding success and punishing failure which, leads


to employees covering up their failures and to
managers undermining the effects of problems in the
hope that they will disappear.

3.

The existence of a gap between what people do and


what they say they are trying to do.
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Reading 21 - Organizational Learning


21.2 How to facilitate learning to learn
The success of the process of learning to learn is
dependent on the organizations ability to remain open
to changes occurring in the environment, and on its
ability to challenge operating assumptions in a most
fundamental way.
This learning oriented approach can be developed using
the following guidelines:

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Reading 21 - Organizational Learning


21.2 How to facilitate learning to learn
This learning oriented approach can be developed using
the following guidelines:
1.

Encourage and value an openness and reflectivity


that accepts legitimate error and uncertainty as an
inevitable feature of life in complex and changing
environments.
This allows employees to deal with problems
constructively specially in turbulent environments.
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Reading 21 - Organizational Learning


21.2 How to facilitate learning to learn
This learning oriented approach can be developed using
the following guidelines:

A philosophy of it is admissible to write off


legitimate error against experience and that
negative events and discoveries can serve as a
source of knowledge and wisdom of great practical
value is an example of the kind of stance required.
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Reading 21 - Organizational Learning


21.2 How to facilitate learning to learn
This learning oriented approach can be developed using
the following guidelines:
2.

Encourage an approach to the analysis and solution of


complex problems that recognizes the importance of
exploring different viewpoints.
This helps in probing the various dimensions of the
situation, and allows constructive conflict and debate
between advocates of competing perspectives.
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Reading 21 - Organizational Learning


21.2 How to facilitate learning to learn
This learning oriented approach can be developed using the
following guidelines:
3. Avoid imposing structure of action upon organized
settings.
This involves a new means of approaching the planning
process.
Instead of just specifying profit objectives or desired
market shares, an organization should also plan what it
wishes to avoid.
4. Make interventions and create organizational
structures and processes that help in implementing the
above principles.
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Reading 22 - The Holographic Organization


As opposed to the traditional hierarchy Morgan
argued that there are newly emergent
approaches of organizational structures
specifically the holographic organization.
Morgan challenges the traditional view of the
organization?
as a kind of human machine, sets of assemblies
fitting together closely to the image of the
organization
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Reading 22
The Holographic Organization
The four key hologram-like properties: G. Morgan
The capacity to get the whole into parts
2. The creation of connectivity and redundancy
3. The simultaneous creation of specialization
and generalization
4. The capacity of self-organization
1.

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The holographic organization


Task to study the means of achieving 4 properties
Principle of redundant
functions: building the whole
into parts by creating
redundancy, connectivity,
simultaneous specialization &
generalization
REDUNDANCY
OF
FUNCTIONS
Principles of minimum
critical specification &
learning to learn: provide
ways of enhancing
capacities for selforganization

LEARNING
TO LEARN

HOLOGRAPHIC
ORGANIZATION

Principle of requisite
variety: provide
guidelines for the
design of the whole
relations showing
exactly how much of
the whole needs to be
built into a given part
REQUISITE
VARIETY

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MINIMAL CRITICAL SPECIFICATION

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Reading 22
The Holographic Organization
Redundancy of Functions
A self-organized system needs an element of
redundancy: form of excess capacity which, when
appropriately designed and used creates room for
maneuver
Without such redundancy a system has no real
capacity to reflect on and question how it is operating
and to change its mode of functioning in constructive
ways or has no capacity for intelligence in the
sense of being able to adjust action to take account
of changes in the nature of relations within which the
actions is set.
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Reading 22
The Holographic Organization
Two methods for designing redundancy into a system
1.Redundancy of parts:

Each part is designed to perform a specific


function
Special additional or duplicate parts being added
to the system for the purpose of control and to
back up or replace operating parts whenever
they fail
Involvement is partial (forming one part or
incomplete) and instrumental
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Reading 22
The Holographic Organization
2.

Redundancy of Functions:

Is relevant to the holographic organization


Extra functions are added to each of the operating parts
instead of spare parts being added to the system
Each part can engage in a range of functions rather
than just perform a single specialized activity
Involvement is more holistic and all-absorbing

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Reading 22
The Holographic Organization
Examples: Two methods for designing redundancy into a
system
Redundancy of parts:
EX: supervisors have fixed roles to perform so when a
problem arises outside their role, it is typically viewed as
someone elses problem
Redundancy of functions:
EX: here, the parts take their specific shape at any one time in
relation to the contingencies and problems arising in the total
situation (members acquire multiple skills so they are able to
perform each others jobs and substitute for each other as the
need arises)
This organization design possesses flexibility and a
capacity for reorganization within each and every part of
the system
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Reading 22
The Holographic Organization
Requisite variety (question)
How much redundancy should be built into any
given part?
(excess capacity designed and used to reflect and
question how it is operating and change its mode of
functioning in constructive way: by using special
additional parts added to the system for the purpose of
control or by using extra functions added to the
operating parts)
Holographic principle suggests that we should try & build
everything. But in modern organization, the range of
knowledge and skills required is such that it is
impossible for everybody to become skilled in
everything, so what
do we
do?
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& Practice - AOU29
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Reading 22
The Holographic Organization
Requisite variety (Answer)
The idea of requisite variety becomes here very
important (things needed and required by circumstances
or for success)
W. Ross Ashby suggestion: (cybernetician)
Any control system must be as varied (full of changes or
variety) and complex as the environment being controlled
Holographic design context:
All elements of an organization should embody (include)
critical dimensions of the environment with which they
have to deal to self-organize to cope with the demands
they are likely to face
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Reading 22
The Holographic Organization
Questions & Answers
Holographic design context
To pay close attention to the boundary relations
between units and their environments
To ensure that requisite variety always falls

within the unit in question


What is the nature of the environment faced?
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Reading 22
The Holographic Organization
Questions & Answers
Holographic design context
Can all the skills for dealing with this environment be
possessed by every individual?
If (yes), you should build multi-functioned people as in the
model of autonomous work group
If (no), you should build multi-teams that collectively

possess the requisite skills and abilities and where each


member is as generalized as possible creating a pattern
of overlapping skills and knowledge bases in the team
overall
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Reading 22
The Holographic Organization
Organization can be developed in a cellular manner around
self-organizing, multi-disciplined groups having the
requisite skills and abilities to deal with the environment
in a holistic and integrated way
Implications of requisite variety on every aspect of
organization:
Very important implications in favor of a proactive
(supporting) embracing (using) of the environment in all
its diversity
The principles of redundant functions and requisite variety
create systems with a capacity for self-organization
(capacity to be realized)
The coherent direction to assume: the principle of minimum
critical specificationT205B-Systems'
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Reading 22
The Holographic Organization
Minimum Critical Specification
To preserve flexibility by suggesting no more than is

absolutely necessary for a particular activity to occur


This reverses the bureaucratic principle that

organizational arrangements need to be defined as clearly


and precisely because when attempting to organize in this
way, one eliminates the capacity for self-organization

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Reading 22
The Holographic Organization
- Minimum Critical Specification
- The principle of redundant functions creates flexibility
and the more we pre-design, the more we erode this
flexibility
- EX: if organizational designers adopt a facilitating role

they create enabling conditions allowing the system


to find its own form, allowing to change and evolve
according to circumstances keeping a flexible and
diversified organization capable of evolving structure
sufficient and appropriate to deal with the problem
arising
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Reading 22
The Holographic Organization
- Minimum Critical Specification
- The principle of minimum critical specification

preserve capacities for self-organization (that


bureaucratic principles erode)
- The danger of such flexibility is to become
chaotic
- This is why the principle of learning to learn
must be developed as a 4th element of
holographic design
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Reading 22
The Holographic Organization

- Learning to learn
- A systems capacity for coherent self-regulation and

control depends on its ability to engage in processes of


single and double loop learning
- These allow a system to guide itself with reference to a
set of coherent values or norms and questioning whether
these norms provide an appropriate basis for guiding
behavior
- The most important functions of those responsible for
designing and managing the enabling conditions is:
helping to create a context fostering this kind of shared
identity and learning
orientation
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Reading 22
The Holographic Organization

- Learning to learn
Ex: strong tendencies created in modern organizations
through the introduction of micro-processing technologies
diffusing information, communications and control.

Micro-processing creates a capacity for networks of


information exchange and interlocking controls making
many aspects of hierarchy unnecessary
- A work design to create a holistic relationship between
people and their work: employees acquire a sense of
identity with the firm and its products, with processes and
becomes involved with the productive process in the
fullest sense
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Reading 23 Organizational Culture


23.1 What is organizational culture?
Organizational culture consists of the values, symbols,
stories, heroes, and rituals and ceremonies that have
special meaning for the people who work for a firm.
Culture represents the emotional, intangible part of the
organization.
1.

Values: deep-seated, pervasive standards that


influence almost every aspect of our lives, our moral
judgments, responses to other and commitments to
personal and organizational goals.
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Reading 23 Organizational Culture


23.1 What is organizational culture?
Symbols: things that stand for or that suggest
something else, an element of organizational
culture. The symbol might be a natural object,
a manufactured object, a setting, or even a
performer.
3. Stories: narrative repeated among employees
and usually based on fact, they help pass on a
culture by acting as maps of how things are
done.
2.

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Reading 23 Organizational Culture


23.1 What is organizational culture?
4.Heroes: company role models whose deeds, character,

and support for the existing organizational culture highlight


the values a company wishes to reinforce.
5.Rituals: guides to behavior in daily organizational life,
including evaluation and reward procedures, regular staff,
meetings, and farewell parties.
6.Ceremonies: similar to rituals, but more elaborate
productions that occur less frequently.
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Reading 23 Organizational Culture


Functions of Organizational Culture
Culture serves many important functions in
organizations. For instance, culture influences
the following:
1. Cooperation: By providing shared values and
assumptions, culture may enhance goodwill and
mutual trust, encouraging cooperation.

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Reading 23 Organizational Culture

Functions of Organizational Culture

2.

Decision making: shared beliefs and values


give organizational members a consistent set
of basic assumptions and preferences. This
may lead to more efficient decision making,
since there are fewer disagreements about
which premises should prevail.

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Reading 23 Organizational Culture

Functions of Organizational Culture

3.

Control: culture serves as an informal organizational


control system, informally approving or prohibiting some
patterns of behavior. When everyone agrees on values,
fewer managers are needed.
Communication: culture reduces communication
problems, in at least two ways. First there is no need to
communicate in matters for which shared assumptions
already exist. Second shared assumptions provide
guidelines and cues to interpret messages that are
received.

4.

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Reading 23 Organizational Culture

5.

6.

7.

Functions of Organizational Culture


Commitment: people feel committed to an organization
when they identify with it and feel emotional attachment
to it.
Perception: we have said elsewhere that
organizational reality is socially constructed, what an
individual sees is conditioned by what others sharing
the same experience say they are seeing. Shared
beliefs and values provide the members of an
organization with shared interpretations of their
experience.
Justification of behavior: Finally culture helps
organization members make sense of their behavior by
providing justification
for it.
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Reading 24 Handys Culture Typology

Out of my depth, not my scene, feeling


out of place, are phrases often used to refer
to situations that we experience as different.
Cultures can vary in many different respects.

24.1 Handys four types


Handy distinguishes between four organizational
structures:

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Reading 24 Handys Culture Typology

24.1 Handys four types

1.

Role cultures are often found in bureaucracies, and are


dominated by a concern for correct role behavior,
conformity to rules, and respect for the system.

2.

Power cultures are often found in organizations


dominated by a powerful central individual or group. It is
common in family firms or small businesses, or in
organizations that are growing very rapidly, where a
central team decides and everyone else follows.
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Reading 24 Handys Culture Typology

24.1 Handys four types

3.

Task-centered cultures often appear in small


organizations or those that have successfully adopted
project or matrix structures.
Expertise, adaptability and teamwork are the basis for
respect.
However it is difficult to achieve economies of scale or
great depth of specialist expertise in this culture, and it
can be hard to control.
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Reading 24 Handys Culture Typology

24.1 Handys four types

4.

Person-centered cultures
This form of cultures is unusual in traditional profit
making organizations, it is important when there is a
need to find new ways of operating.
They exist for the people within them such as families,
social groups, and barristers chambers.
They are democratic and take time to make decisions,
and best suited for small groups operating in a
changing environment.
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Reading 25
Defensive and Supportive Climates
An organizations climate affects its ability to learn. In this
context we can distinguish between two sorts of
climates:
Defensive climates and supportive climates.
25.1 Defensive climates
In their book Organizational Learning Argyris and Schon
argue that many organizations are reluctant to probe
into their mistakes and fail to learn from them due to
their existing culture of rewarding success and
rejecting failure.
They mentioned what they call the unwritten rules that
govern organizational relationships:
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Reading 25
Defensive and Supportive Climates
1.

Employees personal views about sensitive issues


should remain private

2.

Differences in views regarding organizational


problems should not be allowed to surface or to be
tested.

3.

Maps of the problem should remain scattered, vague


and ambiguous, with no attempts to see the whole
picture.
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Reading 25
Defensive and Supportive Climates
4.

5.

6.

Employees must protect themselves unilaterally by


avoiding direct interpersonal confrontations, and public
discussion of sensitive issues which might expose them
to blame.
Employees must protect others unilaterally by avoiding
the testing of assumptions that might evoke negative
feelings, or expose other employees to blame.
Employees should control the situation and the task
by making up their own mind about the problem and
acting on their view.

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Reading 25
Defensive and Supportive Climates
A defensive organizational climate limits the
organizations learning ability.
When discussion of important issues is discouraged
double-loop learning cannot be achieved.
In order for the organization to be able to deal with a
defensive climate two conditions must be met:
1. Being able to recognize when people are behaving in
accordance with the unwritten rules of a defensive
climate.
2. Having a clear idea of what a viable alternative looks
like.
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Reading 25 Defensive and supportive climates

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Reading 25
Defensive and Supportive Climates

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

The Supportive Climate


For double loop learning to occur a supportive climate
must be adopted which allows:
Employees to discuss sensitive issues openly and freely
Differences in viewpoints to be tested publicly
Vague and ambiguous data to be made clear, and the
situation to be seen holistically
Interpersonal confrontation, even if it leads to negative
feelings, to take place
Protection of oneself and others to be made a joint task
towards growth
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The task to be controlled
jointly.
Lebanon
Branch

Reading 25
Defensive and Supportive Climates

Communicative competence, self-awareness


and good working relationships are practical
requirements for effective involvement in the
intellectual and social process of problem
solving.

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Reading 26
Bates Study of Organizational Culture
In the late 1970s Paul Bate conducted a study of
three UK companies, a chemicals company, a
footwear company, and a dairy products
company to test their problem solving
capability.
In his findings he concluded that six factors in
organizational culture hinder the
organizations ability to solve problems, these
factors include:
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Reading 26
Bates Study of Organizational Culture
1.
2.
3.

4.
5.
6.

Unemotionality: avoid showing or sharing feelings or


emotions.
Depersonalization of issues: Never point the finger
at anyone in particular.
Subordination: Never challenge those in authority
and always wait for them to take the initiative in
resolving your problems.
Conservatism: Better the devil you know.
Isolationism: Do your own thing and avoid treading
on other peoples toes.
Antipathy: On most things people will be opponents
rather than allies.
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