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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Rosalee Billingslea Rush
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Educational Leadership, Research, and Technology
Title: Learning Organization Principles: The Impact on a Midwest State Government as Perceived by its Employees
Dr. Walter Burt, Chair
Dr. Jianping Shen
Dr. Cheryl Celestin
Date: Friday, March 11, 2011 Noon to 2:00 p.m.
3208 Sangren Hall
This study sought to determine the extent to which learning organization constructs influence performance in state government. The overarching purpose was to examine the relationship between Peter Senge’s five learning disciplines and organizational performance.
The study utilized an ex post facto survey design. The sample population was composed of supervisors and professional and administrative staff within the nineteen agencies of this Midwestern state government. Participants were administered an instrument that asked them to rate their perception of the organization and its performance along seven dimensions of learning. Of the randomly selected 381 participants, 110 (or 28.9%) returned the survey instrument.
The Dimensions of a Learning Organization Questionnaire (Marsick & Watkins, 2003) was used to collect data on the selected population. To provide answers to the three hypotheses, an analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to test the perception of learning and organizational performance among employee groups. A canonical correlation tested the learning organization constructs as predictors of performance. The 0.05 confidence level was used for determining statistical significance.
Findings in this study reveal that employees believe this Midwestern state government possesses the characteristics of a learning organization. There is a strong linear relationship between organizational learning and performance. Evidence suggests that within this state a high learning organization score results in a high organizational performance score. The study adds to the research on learning organizations by revealing that a manager’s perception of organizational learning may be influenced by the person’s relative position on the organizational chart, and the learning construct, empowerment, is a dominant contributor to organizational performance.
The findings in this study support prior research (Bale, 1993, Applebaum, St. Pierre & Glavas, 1998) that suggest executive leadership and middle managers’ perception of learning may differ from others within the organization. Furthermore, middle managers are instrumental in helping to promote the interchange of ideas and supporting a culture of learning. Future research should explore performance and learning outcomes tied to a specific initiative, as well as examine the influence of age on the perception of the organization in terms of its capacity to learn and improve performance.