The aim of this essay is to explore and discuss the view that mechanistic and bureaucratic organisations will probably struggle to encourage organisational learning. The structure and learning perspectives of organisational analysis will be used as academic lenses to view and propel this discussion. Relevant theories will be applied to analyse my own organisational experiences (direct and indirect). Examples derived from case studies of organisational situations will be looked at so as to make the discussion more cohesive. To begin with definitions of the perspectives in question will be given as to make understanding of the different types of organisations clearer.
According to Drummond (2000) mechanical imagery depicts organisations as
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McDonalds is the same wherever you go - a big mac is still a big mac, we know what to expect in a McDonalds and we know how to behave as well because of that predictability. McDonalds’ environment is structured in a way that there are no surprises to customers. Efficiency is brought about by looking for the best route to getting the best output with least amount of resources and costs i.e. the grills in McDonalds cook meat within seconds and one person needed to operate a grill at any time. This brings us to the notion of control and calculability, there is great reliability on technology rather than humans and emphasis is on quantity rather than quality. Clearly these two approaches to viewing organisations are sort of out-dated and can be detrimental to the progress of an organisation in this day and age. Hence organisations are required to be flexible and evolve and also be able to cope with today’s pressures. Organisational learning (OL) is the way forward and aims at making sure that organisations are well equipped for the ever changing market place. Weick and Roberts (1993) mentioned that OL consists of interrelating actions of individuals, which are their “heedful interrelation” which results in a “collective mind”. Organisational Learning as the ability of an organisation to gain insight and understanding from experience through experimentation, observation, analysis, and a willingness to examine both successes and failures. Heedful