Exploring Learning Organizations through the High Reliability Organization Framework
The modern pace of business has changed the way organizations need to function to maintain viability in the rapidly changing marketplace. Healthcare organizations face similar changes in the way they operate, partly because of the recent changes in national healthcare and the emergence of electronic health and medical records. Healthcare organizations are also challenged to avoid preventable medical errors, which cost $38 billion annually and negatively affect patients and staff. Organizational knowledge is critical to identify and implement the rapid changes required in these systems. Traditional corporate training is quickly made obsolete, raising training costs to $400 billion. The purpose of this qualitative exploratory multi-case study was to explore characteristics of learning organizations from different industries to identify common themes to enhance the use and disseminate organizational knowledge. Data were collected from 29 participants representing 11 organizations from different industries including healthcare, investment and small IT consulting firms, online learning organizations, global technology companies, and educational TV stations. Data were analyzed using the High Reliability Organizations framework. Data were analyzed to explore how organizations may meet the demands for safety, quality, and agility in a fast-moving, ever-changing environment and disseminate this knowledge across their organizations. This framework may be useful as a learning tool for learners engaged in organizational research and as an evaluation method for organizational leaders to improve outcomes. Key themes included the need for continuous learning, open communication, development of a problem-solving culture, and teamwork. The results may enhance awareness of quality issues, development of adaptable core competencies, improve morale, reduce turnover, and empower staff to make timely, informed decisions. This may help reduce costly errors in care, enable agility in the rapid-changing knowledge economy, and enhance frontline leadership to promote a resilient, highly reliable organizational culture.
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