Sunday, April 10, 2011

Literature review on organizational development and learning

Five principles for organizational learning

The five principles for organizational learning suggests by Senge et al. (2000) can help us to have a better understanding of the organizational development and learning. The five principles are personal mastery, mental models, shared vision, team learning and system thinking. According to the principles, the leaders should have personal visions and awareness in promoting and nourishing organizational learning. They should also act as role models and mentors for the staff, while the staff should have the same vision of the organization, can share their experience and knowledge among themselves. Moreover, they should also view goals and problems of the organization as part of the larger whole instead of isolated issues.

Fullan’s framework

According to Fullan’s framework (2001), effective leaders should have good moral purpose, can understand the change process, build good relationships and knowledge as well as make coherence. Good moral purpose can guide people to do good things which are critical to the long-term success of all organizations. It is also essential for leaders to understand the elements in the process of change, which can raise their awareness while leading the changes. They need to aware that the goal is not to innovate the most, it is not enough to have the best ideas, there may be implementation dip and resistance, there is no a checklist for doing, and re-culturing may be required.

With regard to leadership styles, Goleman (1996) has identified the six leadership styles, i.e. coercive, authoritative, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting, and coaching. Apart from coercive and pacesetting leaders who require compliance and set high standards for performance of followers respectively are considered to have negative influences on the organization’s performance, all other leadership styles are likely to have positive influences on its performance according to Goleman. Authoritative leaders can mobilize people toward a vision, affiliative leaders can create harmony and build emotional bonds, democratic leaders can forge consensus through participation and coaching leaders can develop people for the future.

Fullan suggests that reorganizing of structure though can make a difference, it is not the main point of achieving success. Instead, transforming the culture or re-culturing, should be the key point of leading change. Moreover, as there is no recipe for change, nor a step-by-step process, leaders need to have different strategies for different circumstances, and cannot generalize from case studies of success. In this regard, to employ different leadership strategies flexibly seems to be more practical thing for leaders to do. Fullan also considers that effective leaders should have high emotional intelligence in addition to intellectual brilliance. They should have high self-awareness, self-regulation and motivation, adequate empathy and good social skills; while the high emotional intelligence can also help them in building good relationship with the team-mates and followers.

Regarding knowledge building, sharing of knowledge, particularly tacit knowledge (i.e. skills, beliefs, and understanding), among individuals with different backgrounds, perspectives, and motivations is critical for organizational knowledge creation. Establishing knowledge sharing practices can also help in creating collaborative culture. Regarding coherence making, leaders need to be aware that when change occurs, there will be disturbances, and the differences of opinion must be reconciled. They should be able to guide people through the differences and lead the organization to shift to a new state as a result of the new interactions and ideas. Such new states represent breakthroughs in which greater coherence is achieved for substantial improvement of the organizations.

Diffusion of innovations model

For diffusion of innovations model introduced by Rogers (1995), diffusion is defined as the process by which an innovation is adopted and gains acceptance by members of a certain community. There are five categories of people in terms of their readiness to adopt new technology, namely innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. A number of factors interact to influence the diffusion of an innovation, and the major factors are the innovation itself. The diffusion of innovation model is considered to have much impact on many disciplines including instructional technology. It may help instructional technologists to explain, predict and account for the factors facilitating or impeding the utilization of a new technology. So, the more thorough understanding on the innovation process and theories, the more likely for them to prepare better and work more effectively with clients and potential adopters (Schiffman, 1991). Teachers can also raise their awareness in this aspect while designing the teaching pedagogies.


Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a Culture of Change, San Francisco, Calif., Jossey-Bass.

Fullan, M. (2001). The new meaning of educational change. London: Routledge Falmer.

Goleman, D. (2007). The New Leaders: Transforming the Art of Leadership into the Science of Results. London: Sphere.

Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of Innovations (5th ed). New York: Free Press.

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