MWM3KOL-Knowledge and Organisational Learning

Module Provider: Henley Business School
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Christine Van Winkelen


Summary module description:
This elective provides a strategic framework for developing an appropriate context-specific approach to managing knowledge and organisational learning in an organisation. The reasons why this matters more than ever today will be considered, for example the fact that jobs increasingly require more people to have rapid access to current knowledge about how best to act in non-standard situations, with the organisation’s reputation and relationships being at risk when this doesn’t happen. We will also look at the business case for investments in knowledge and learning initiatives in relation to different business models, considering amongst other opportunities efficiency gains, developing innovation capability, reducing risk, and increasing business agility and resilience.

Alongside this strategic perspective, the elective allows you to better understand the practices (people, process and technological) that improve knowledge management and organisational learning in an organisation. A change management approach to implementation is adopted, which places an emphasis on developing appropriate knowledge sharing behaviours and the leadership needed to sustain momentum and deliver the intended outcomes.

The module is designed for practising managers to enable them to:
•Explore the connection between knowledge, organisational learning and sustainable organisational performance.
•Evaluate an organisation’s capability to resolve essential dilemmas affecting knowledge creation, sharing and use.
•Critically evaluate appropriate processes and tools suitable for supporting knowledge management and organisational learning in various organisational contexts.
•Explore the impact of leadership and various people management practices in shaping the context for knowledge and learning activities that facilitate change and the development of a learning organisation.
•Develop and monitor an effective knowledge strategy that reflects the features of a selected organisational context.

The key objectives are to:
•Introduce key concepts and theories of knowledge management and organisational learning.
•Enable those take part in the module to understand and be able to communicate to others how adopting a knowledge and learning perspective on the organisation impacts performance.
•Enable those taking part to analyse an organisation’s capability to manage knowledge and learning processes and identify suitable interventions and the corresponding implementation issues to improve performance.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that students will be able to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of key issues in the module by:

•Recognising why knowledge is a key organisational resource and why it has to be managed differently from more tangible resources.
•Analysing the current status of an organisation’s knowledge management and organisational learning capability.

Their ability to:
•Identify priorities for action to translate knowledge and learning into strategic advantage.
•Evaluate and select suitable tools, processes and practices to improve the climate for knowledge creation, sharing and use.
•Produce a suitable strategy for an organisation to improve conditions for organisational learning and the flow of knowledge in key areas of strategic importance, together with consideration of the factors critical to successful implementation.

In addition to core MBA abilities to:
•Communicate clearly and confidently their analysis, through written reports.
•Work autonomously, as well as collaboratively, managing their process of study, prioritising appropriately.
•Manage the research process to gather required information and data with minimum of guidance.
•Reflect on their understanding and ability to communicate with others in the subject area.

Additional outcomes:

Outline content:
The Knowledge and Organisational Learning elective comprises six sections:

Knowledge strategy and organisational learning principles:
The foundations for strategic thinking and action in relation to knowledge and organisational learning are established. Core concepts are identified and the implications of different perspectives on the nature of knowledge and learning are considered. The main knowledge flows around an organisation are examined together with the enablers and obstacles to those flows.

Knowledge strategy and organisational performance:
Five core dilemmas associated with managing a knowledge-based enterprise are identified. One tension is examined in detail: the tension between exploring new knowledge and exploiting current knowledge. Organisational context is considered in relation to knowledge and learning activities.

External knowledge:
The flows of knowledge across the external boundary of the organisation are considered in the context of issues facing organisations in a changing world, including the trend to open innovation and the use of big data and social business technologies. Managing these external knowledge flows appropriately can promote agility, adaptability and resilience. Managing the permeability of the knowledge boundary to allow access to key knowledge, while protecting crucial intellectual capital, is explored.

Focus on implementation: tools, processes and practices
Practical aspects of implementing knowledge and organisational learning improvements to achieve strategic objectives are explored. The appropriateness for different situations of a variety of tools, processes and practices is examined.

Focus on implementation: shaping the environment for knowledge and learning activities
The changes needed to create a collaborative climate that supports sharing, creating and using knowledge in organisations are examined. Decision-making practices, leadership and knowledge sharing behaviours in knowledge-based organisations are examined.

Shaping an integrated knowledge and organisational learning strategy:
Key themes from across the course are revisited and a process to integrate them to create a knowledge and organisational learning strategy is provided. Activities are designed to help you plan the assignment and identify further reading needed for completion.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The module is based on a structured programme of self-study, incorporating specially written material, directed reading, independent research and activities to structure analysis and reflection.

Students will each receive an e-copy of the purpose-written course text book “Understanding the Knowledgeable Organization: Nurturing Knowledge Competence”, by McKenzie and van Winkelen, published by Cengage (2004). Extensive use will also be made of the Henley Academic Resource Centre and other online resources.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Guided independent study 100
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Other information on summative assessment:
A 3500 word assignment (worth 100% of the marks for the course) based on the student’s own organisation (or specified part of the organisation), or one with which they are familiar, outlining and justifying a knowledge and organisational learning strategy for this organisation. The report should include evidence of the following (further details provided in the assignment brief):
Contextual awareness (10% of the marks)
Analysis (40% of the marks)
Strategy (25% of the marks)
Implementation considerations (15% of the marks)
Reflection (10% of the marks)

Formative assessment methods:
Practice activities throughout the module allow self-reflection and assessment. No tutor feedback is available, though clarification questions will be answered.

Penalties for late submission:

Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Length of examination:

Requirements for a pass:
Assignments, set tasks and presentations: 50%

Reassessment arrangements:
These are in accordance with the arrangements for resubmission laid out in the Programme Specifications.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 21 December 2016

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