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Organizational learning: creating capability through building belief

Shipton, H. and Sillince, J.A.A. (2009) Organizational learning: creating capability through building belief. In: Academy of Management Conference, 2009-08-10 - 2009-08-12. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Self-efficacy is a key determinant of various outcomes at the level of the individual, including learning proficiency. The concept suggests that emotional reinforcement is the essential driver of a virtuous circle directed at mastery of organizational learning. Although self-efficacy has been theorised at the collective level, its potential significance as an explanatory mechanism for organizational learning remains undeveloped. In this study, we have started to build a conceptual framework to delineate an attribute that we have labelled 'organizational learning efficacy.' According to our argument, this variable represents the feelings that employees hold about the propensity or otherwise of their organization to learn, i.e. to make on-going adjustments to routines, procedures, values and attitudes to reflect the challenges and opportunities presented by the external environment. Using an in-depth qualitative and inductive study of an electronics company to exemplify our arguments, we endeavour to weave together organizational efficacy and organizational learning literatures to offer a new way of understanding what factors shape organizations' propensity or otherwise to learn. Besides evaluating the differences between individual learning self-efficacy and organizational learning efficacy, our approach goes beyond the literature of individual self efficacy by emphasising the importance of the perception that learning at the level of the organization is possible and achievable.