The "learning organization" is without a template. Writers have tried to give it an ideal form or a template in "which real organizations could attempt to emulate." (Easterby-Smith & Araujo 1999). The learning organization, however, can be best characterized by saying that it's an organization where both individual and collective learning are crucial. Donald Schon has come up with a theoretical framework associating the experience of living in a situation of an increasing change with the need for learning. He states:
The loss of the stable state means that our society and all of its institutions are in continuous processes of transformation. We cannot expect new stable states that will endure for our own lifetimes. We must learn to understand, guide, influence and manage these transformations. We must make the capacity for undertaking them integral to ourselves and to our institutions. We must, in other words, become adept at learning. We must become able not only to transform our institutions, in response to changing situations and requirements; we must invent and develop institutions which are 'learning systems', that is to say, systems capable of bringing about their own continuing transformation. (Schon 1973).
As the world becomes more complex and global, challenges will arise in organizations that will need to be addressed in new and creative ways. When organizations face change, many different types of challenges will arise as a consequence and, as change is inevitable, every organization will face challenges at some point in their history. Finding meaning during times of change as well as building a common goal and perspective with other leaders and employees is critical to the success of an organization. Most organizations facing change will struggle against great odds and will need to find creative ways of dealing with the challenges. Working as a team is crucial as your organization finds new ways to thrive. (Barger 1995).
Leadership is critical, of course, because it doesn't just create an organization's culture, but it is the main force in dealing with culture evolution and change. An effective organization needs to contemplate their organization's culture and to what degree they want their culture to be based on the rate of technological change in today's day and age. (Schein 2009). Organizations should also spend time thinking about the management of the different subcultures that come out of the increased technological complexity. (Schein 2009). Today, leaders must also pay close attention to what a major global economic downturn can do to their organization not solely on a financial level, but also on a workforce level -- meaning that changes occur in employee attitudes during tough times as they become vulnerable or feel that their job is hanging by a thread. There are several steps that an organization and its leaders can take to make sure that employees are feeling motivated, rewarded and that they are living up to their fullest potential.
A lot has changed in the world of learning as well as for the leaders who lead organizations. Technology is rapidly changing the way we do business as well as the world in general, and, for that reason, technology issues need to be addressed as well as the way that technology will have an effect globally. New technology will "transform computing, medicine, manufacturing, transportation and our energy infrastructure." (Fien & Maclean 2009). Technology Review, the oldest technology magazine in the world and owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, identified 10 promising technologies, when they are implemented, will change the world. The technologies are wireless sensor networks, injectable tissue engineering, nano solar cells, mechatronics, grid computing, molecular imaging, nanoimprint lithography, software assurance, glycomics and quantum cryptography. (Technology Review 2003). There are other technological advances such as digital cocooning, insperience and ubiquitous technology that will also lead to the transformation of our technological landscape. (2003).
In looking at Saztec International, a company that was featured in "Keeping Up with Information," we can see the process of globalization and technological advances in an extreme form. Because of information technology, the physical location of Saztec is quite insignificant, people and skills are tradable, and flexibility is total. But, at the same time, the competition is eager, since barriers to entry are minimal -- most of what it takes to be successful is salesmanship and a willingness to take a chance on delivering. (Kanter 2003). Saztec's commodity is data entry services, which is hard to distinguish by its nature; thus Saztec is strained to seek out lower cost and fastest response. In the meantime, it offers the poorest countries (defined by standard of living and wage), a way of taking part in the highest technology sector -- a strange result and itself a driver of change. Organizational flexibility increases worker vulnerability, which could incite political action to protect jobs, so not all change is considered positive, of course. (2003).
What all of these technological advances mean is that our workforce is evolving as well as the workplace. As workers head from standard to non-standard employment, from agricultural to services sectors and towards hypertext jobs, there needs to be a readjustment with existing resources and a reformulation strategy so that workers can grasp the opportunities that are offered by the emerging trends. If sufficient adjustments are not made, organizations will do one of two things will happen: the organization will crumble or it will continue to work inefficiently and eventually move towards obsolescence. (Fien & Maclean 2008).
Readjusting and reformulation is a challenge, however, since global differences in education as well as in the economy, unevenness in countries in terms of demography and technology, as well as disparities in gender, race and family economic status remain evident. (Fien & Maclean 2008). There is a discrepancy in the ability of human resources in different parts of the world to produce goods and services. There are some workers in developed countries very adept at using sophisticated technological devices, while their counterparts in developing countries can barely cope at all. (Elkeles & Phillips 2006). Developed countries, it must be noted, are also dealing with an alarming increase in an aging population while developing countries are experiencing "youth bulge." (2008). Fien and Maclean (2008) states that if something isn't done about this, the condition will widen an already significant gap in human resource, perpetuating, rather than stopping, the very serious cycle of poverty for developing countries. For countries with an increase in an aging population, their economic growth will slow drastically as well as their capital markets, investment and trade. Fien and Maclean (2008) state that by 2050, Japan, Russia, China and a lot of Europe will be affected most significantly by the impact of aging -- with more than 15% of their population expected to be over the age of 60.
The biggest challenge of the moment will be in producing people with quality human resources who can cope in the evolving society by redirecting resources to the global challenges. Labor market information systems need to fixate on providing for workforce mobility. (Fien & Maclean 2008). Human resource development requires quite a lot of attention because diversities in demography, imbalanced countries as well as inequality in gender, race and family economic status, is creating a huge global disparity. Human resource development must focus on enhancing productive capacities and optimize the resources for productive outputs. (Fien & Maclean 2008). Having a stable global population would make a huge difference when it comes to the achievement of sustainable development. But, contrarily, an increase in population growth makes the necessity for more food and social services like education, training and employment, health and recreation, and when those needs are not met, there is commonly a decline in the standard of living.
There are challenges with creating a more global learning organization (GLO), which are models that can help organizations create organizational culture that is globally inclusive in theory and practice -- at all different levels. This is based on a few different theories such as organizational development, learning organizations, human resource management as well as change theory to help the organization shift from an ethnocentric to a geocentric corporate perspective in every aspect of its organizational practices (from people to policies to technologies). Some of the challenges include the issues of dealing with the ambiguities of a process that is not completely specified. A truly global model has to have the ability to be applied across cultures. (Tolbert, McLean & Myers 2002).
Understanding the issues concerning human resource development is important for leaders because the evolving culture has consequences of the various ways in which growing organizations differentiate themselves and it's vital that leaders align the various subculture that have been created toward on common organization purpose. (Schein 2009). Managing the alignment of many subcultures has become particularly vital in the 21st century due to:
Mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures in which the subcultures are actually entire organizational cultures that need to be blended or at least aligned; globalization,…