Knowledge Management and Learning in Healthcare Essay.

Knowledge Management and Learning in Healthcare Essay.


Revised September 23, 2002 (Reprint October 1, 2006) Abstract Many researchers and practitioners have developed models to discuss how organizations learn using concepts of learning, social theory, assembling and information transfer. The Organization Learning Systems Model (ALSO) provides a comprehensive framework for discussing how organizations Interact with their environments, reflect on information collected, disseminate knowledge to stakeholders and “make sense” with their culture through learning subsystems.

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After reviewing Individual and organizational learning literature, I will reflect on a recent insulation at a major healthcare firm using this frame. This paper suggests that practitioners and managers can leverage this model to better manage learning, change, effectiveness and strategic planning. From Individual Learning to the Organizational Learning Systems Model In recent years the topic of organizational learning has been discussed In academia and the workplace with great interest.Knowledge Management and Learning in Healthcare Essay.



In organizations, these discussions usually begin as the result of some cataclysmic event, strategic planning announcement, market change or dialogue on performance. Some see this subject as the integration or theft f many theories from sociology, psychology, management science and anthropology (Argils & Chon, 1978; Davis, 2001 ; Candlewick, 2000; Scanted & Marauded, 2000; discussed using “adaptation” language from sciences such as biology, physics and chemistry (Click, 1987; Holland, 1996; Marion, 1999; Youngling, 1997).

Regardless of the discipline, how individuals learn and the way this impacts the process by which organizations “learn” will continue to charge academic debates and consume practitioner resources. Linking theoretical constructs of organizational learning to the “real world” is a difficult challenge. In healthcare, researchers and practitioners have attempted to make this linkage by identifying learning conditions that must exist in order to generate, disseminate and use knowledge.Knowledge Management and Learning in Healthcare Essay.

These include: 1) a shared vision of organizational goals and how learning can contribute to success; 2) leaders who ensure that opportunities, resources, incentives and rewards are provided to support learning; and 3) an organic structure with diverse communication channels that efficiently transfers information across organizational boundaries (Barley, Limited-Charles, & McKinney, 1998).

Others also suggest that understanding the environment, information processing functions and cognitive learning frameworks in health care organizations can boost the probability of building and maintaining intellectual capital (Granting, Nichols, & Schoenberg, 1997). One attempt to connect theory and practice is the Organizational Learning Systems Model (ALSO) (Scanted & Marauded, 2000).

This multi-disciplinary model developed at the Center for the Study of Learning at George Washington University is increasingly impacting the practice of organizational learning. This model is founded upon the writings of Tailcoat Parsons (Scanted & Marauded, 2000) and discussions of his organizational prerequisites of adaptation, goal attainment, integration and pattern maintenance functions in organizations. The structure of action provided by Parsons lends a powerful lens by which many organization processes and actions can be viewed (Lackey, 1987).

Scanted and Marauded (2000) expand on Parsons General Theory of Action by creating a model that explains organizational learning in the context of four learning subsystems: 1) environmental interface, 2) action/ reflection, 3) dissemination and diffusion and 4) meaning and memory. Equally as important, they depict interactions among these subsystems using the interchange media of information, goal reference knowledge, structuring and assembling. Many current management theories and models inadequately meet the special needs of the healthcare industry (Granting et al. 1997); however, the ALSO, can start a new, more comprehensive conversation regarding knowledge creation and organizational learning. Understanding the theoretical underpinnings of ALSO is the first step to appreciating its practical application in health care organizations. In this paper, horses of adult learning, social interactions and organizational learning are reviewed to provide perspective. I will discuss individual learning and learning in the social context before a discourse on organizational learning. This review will provide the learning foundation that establishes organizational learning as the theoretical basis for the ALSO.

After establishing the theoretical and practical applications of this model, I will use it to analyze an employee opinion survey with one of the nation’s leading healthcare providers. This will provide a bridge from theoretical construct to ragtime tool. In concluding, I will suggest that other healthcare organizations use this model to frame and facilitate future organizational learning and performance Individual Learning Learning takes place when individuals and organizations interact with their environments (Heeders, 1981).

Some researchers claim that learning is an on-going process of reflection and action where individuals ask questions, receive feedback, experiment and take action (Davis, 2001; Edmondson, 1999; Goby & Lewis, 2000; Kola, 1976; Leviathan & March, 1993). Gerber (2001) describes learning as a construct that involves a change in behavior or cognition (or both), relating to perceptions, affect, feelings, attitudes, and values. He continues by stating that learning occurs following, or as the result of experience, direction, thinking, and insight.

Learning through experiences and reflecting on actions has its formal grounding in the works of Dewey, Lenin and Pigged (Nineteen, 1998). Kola (1976) defines learning as a process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Parsons identifies learning as cognitive processes that are required by organisms’ (and organizations) deed-fulfillment to complete actions (Lackey, 1987). Most modern theorists share the similar premise that experience plays a significant role in learning (Drunkards, 2000; Gerber, 2001; Goby & Lewis, 2000; Kola, 1976; Nineteen, 1998).Knowledge Management and Learning in Healthcare Essay.

Gerber (2001) has posited that learning can be viewed in four categories aligned into two classes. The first class (two categories) is based on the research of Skinner and Pavlov. The Skinner model suggests that individuals are subjected to a stimulus that causes a response (traditional S 0 R). This response and stimulus interaction is called Association Learning. Reinforcement Learning is similar, but the learning is “reinforced” with another stimulus in close proximity (S 0 R 0 S). The second class of learning assumes that a process occurs within the subject that impacts the response produced by the stimulus (Gerber, 2001).

This class is represented as S 0 0 R, where “O” symbolizes the role of the subject in producing the response. In this category, termed Cognitive-perceptual Learning, learning is a mental process that considers varying perceptual “frames” until one corresponds to a universal structure. Past perceptual “Gestalts” are stored in memory and become data for future sections. Theorists such as Rogers, Moscow and Lenin are considered the founders of this type of learning. Cognitive-Rational/Linguistic Learning is the second category in this class and builds on the Cognitive-perceptual Learning.

Here, learning is based on experiences that can be coded and remembered through language; it permits higher levels of structuring that can be conferred to create new knowledge. In Cognitive-Rational/Linguistic Learning, the subject is using language (not necessarily words) as a means to collect data, enhance information analysis and communicate it to others. Information precedes thoughts, thought precede actions. Behavior results from cognitive analysis of data and decision-making (Gerber, 2001) based on individual experiences/action.Knowledge Management and Learning in Healthcare Essay.

One view of what is happening at “O” is that the subject is using dimensions of learning to “frame” the stimulus (Kola, 1976) to create understanding. Wick (1993; 2001)) describes the formation of frameworks as important to helping people identify meaning. As will be viewed later, the ALSO provides a framework for this data-information-knowledge-meaning relationship. As individuals create frameworks, language (not necessarily words) may be used a means to create “schemas” and “narratives” that are used to interpret and catalogue frameworks by reflecting on experiences and through a process called “dialogue. Dialogue means that assumptions are suspended as individuals “think together” (Sense, 1990). Dialogue in the form of face-to-face communication is a process where one builds on the concepts in collaboration with others. Individuals in groups can enrich knowledge transfer and help to construct and reconstruct collective frameworks. It allows for people’s hypothesis to be tested (Monika, 1994). Frameworks, fed by experiences, knowledge and dialogue, are accumulated by individuals and allow for and are developed in a social context (Casey, 1997; Wick, 1993).Knowledge Management and Learning in Healthcare Essay.

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