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Assessing change: can organizational learning “work” for schools?

Manila S. Austin (Suffolk University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)
Debra A. Harkins (Suffolk University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)

The Learning Organization

ISSN: 0969-6474

Article publication date: 7 March 2008




The purpose of this paper is to measure the effectiveness and practical utility of an organizational learning intervention for an organization that was not progressive, was not specifically chartered as a learning organization, and was situated in an urban, culturally diverse, and under‐privileged community.


In this empirical case study, employees were surveyed pre‐ and post‐intervention on measures of organizational learning, school climate and morale. Archival data on turnover rates were also collected for the years bracketing the intervention (2003‐2005).


Analyses show the center reduced turnover and improved in organizational learning, morale, and to a lesser degree, organizational climate. Analyses demonstrate relationships between change in organizational climate dimensions (e.g. supportive leadership, appraisal and recognition, goal congruence) and change toward organizational learning.


This research suggests that organizational learning – and the post‐bureaucratic practices that characterize it – can be useful even in the most challenging of settings. Unlike previous research, this study specifically addresses organizational learning's utility for under‐privileged populations; it also examines how the more traditional measure of organizational climate is related to post‐industrial notions of learning and business performance. It should be of value to academics and practitioners wishing to apply organizational learning to less‐advantaged and change‐averse organizations.



Austin, M.S. and Harkins, D.A. (2008), "Assessing change: can organizational learning “work” for schools?", The Learning Organization, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 105-125.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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