An analysis of the influence of environment, process and factors in organisational learning : a qualitative study of a firm in the Middle East

Al Kalbani, Saif Nasser Khalifa

May 2020

Thesis or dissertation

© 2020 Saif Nasser Khalifa Al Kalbani. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

This thesis explores the operation of organisational learning (OL) in the Middle Eastern context in order to provide a deep understanding of the significance of a supportive environment, a productive learning process and appropriate workplace conditions. Empirical data were collected from employees of SAFORG, a large firm with multiple specialisations. The primary focus of this research is to investigate the perceptions of senior and middle managers and bottom-line employees in five SAFORG departments with a range of specialisations, namely: the Training, IT, Security, State Service and Logistics departments.

The research adopts a qualitative stance and takes a social constructivist approach, using two main methods to collect the empirical data, namely semi-structured interviews and focus groups. Twelve individual interviews and one focus group session were held in each of the five departments, involving a total of 88 participants. Although it was difficult to maintain an equal number of participants in each category by rank (senior and middle management and bottom-line employees), a sufficient representation from each category in each department was achieved.

This research contributes to the body of knowledge by highlighting the required environment, process and workplace conditions to deliver productive OL in a unique context. The findings show that the OL occurring at SAFORG was a representation of single-loop learning. Practitioners can benefit from this research by gaining an improved understanding the roles of culture, leadership and organisational context in either enhancing or hindering the functioning of OL.

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