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Evaluation of British Petroleum's Learning Effectiveness

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Evaluation of British Petroleum's Learning Effectiveness 1. Introduction Organization learning plays an important role in organizational survival, growth, and developing in the increasingly changing environment. (Popper& Lipshitz, 2000) Expect responding to the changing environment (Dodgson, 1993), organizational learning also contributes to the participant of employees' thinking and their commitments (Senge, 1990), with a consequential result of a long-term development of the organization. (Kloot, 1996) Nowadays, more and more researchers have exploited a number of issues on transforming corporations into learning organizations which embrace learning at all levels. (Stewart, 2001; Pedler, Burgoyne & Boydell, 1991) According to Senge (1996, p.35), learning organization is defined as "in which learning becomes institutionalized as an inescapable way of life for managers and worker alike". As one of the biggest organizations in the world, British Petroleum (BP) has regarded itself as a learning organization that tried to be adapted and responsive to the changing environment through learning. (Prokesch, 1997)It is the purpose of this report to critically examine BP's learning effectiveness through our learning mode. Firstly, after a brief explanation of our learning mode and the background of BP, the evaluation of BP will be provided in depth by six elements, which are respectively teamwork, communication, leadership, knowledge management, motivation and culture. Then the evaluation of our learning model through the case of BP will be discussed. Apart from these, a learning diagnosis of BP will be offered, which focus on the assessment of teamwork. Before the conclusion, the major learning barriers of BP will be provided as well as the recommendation to overcome it. 2. Explanation of Our Learning Model Inside our organizational learning model (See Appendix 1), there are three levels, which are respectively individual level, team level and organizational level, embracing the process of planning, action, monitoring and evaluation. All these three levels interact with the external environment which results in an open system with double-loop learning process. ...read more.


4.6 Culture Culture is the final element in our learning model. As Pool (2000) argued that a supportive culture may contribute to organizational learning by encouraging employees' learning performance. In BP, the goal of culture change is to replace the present culture and commit to a new one which emphasizes on open thinking, personal impact, empowering and networking. It is believed that learning will be highly enhanced when organizational members feel free to challenge their own mental models, create new ways of thinking as well as share leadership. (Macher, 1992; Gardiner, 1999) Hence, one of the program of "Project 1990" of BP was to transform BP's old culture to a new faster moving organization that embraces teamwork, effective compensation system, and employees empowerment, with a consequential result of achieving real competitive advantages. (White, 1992) 5. Evaluation of Our Learning Model through the Case of BP As one of biggest global companies worldwide, BP is attempting to improve its operational safety record and employees' health. As its health and safety objective reflects that "The health and safety of our employees and of those who come into contact with our operations and products is one of our highest priorities: our goal is clear - no accidents and no harm to people". (BP Home, 2004) Accordingly, BP attempts to prevent and minimize the potential catastrophic accidents by offering training programs. However, training hasn't be identified as a key factor in our learning model. Accord to Gordon (1992), organizational learning is a process to help people create new knowledge and continually improve their capacities, thus improve the performance of the whole organization. Training plays an important role in this process to help people achieve the creating new knowledge and sharing understanding, thus improving organizational performance. At BP, one of its safety plans is to offer online health-and-safety training programs to 80000 to 100000 employees, managers and contractors in order to distribute the usual safety issues. ...read more.


Macher, K. (1992), Organisations that learn, Journal of Quality and Participation, 15, 8-11. Mohanty, R.P., Deshmukh, S.G. (1999), Evaluating manufacturing strategy for a learning organization: a case, International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 19(3), 308-312. Moravec, M. & Gyr, H. (1993), A 21st century communication tool, HR Magazine, 38(7), 77-81. Newing, R. (1998), BP introduces its $250m digital nervous system: Teams and staff members worldwide can work together electronically at any time, in any place, reports Rod Newing :[Surveys edition], Financial Times, Oct 7. 1998, pp.11-16. Pedler, M., Burgoyne, J. & Boydell, T. (1991), The Learning Company: A Strategy for Sustainable Development, London: McGraw-Hill. Pool, S.W. (2000), The learning organization: motivating employees by integrating TQM philosophy in a supportive organizational culture, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 21(8), 373-383. Popper, M. (2000), Organizational learning: mechanisms, culture, and feasibility. Management Learning, 31(2), 181-197. Popper, M. & Lipshitz, R. (1998), Organizational learning mechanisms: A structural and cultural approach to organizational learning, The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 34(2), 161-179. Prokesch, S. (1997), Unleashing the power of learning: an interview with British Petroleum's John Browne, Harvard Business Review, 75(5), 147-168. Prokesch, S. (1997), Unleashing the power of learning: an interview with British Petroleum's John Browne, Harvard Business Review, 75(5), 147-168. Senge, P. (1990), The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, New York: Doubleday. Senge, P. M. (1996), The leader's new work: building learning organizations, In Mintzberg, H. and Quinn, J. B. (Eds.), The Strategy Process: Concepts, Contexts, Cases (3rd ed), Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall. Stewart, D. (2001), Reinterpreting the learning organization. The Learning Organization. 8(4), 141-152. West III, G.P., &Meyer, G.D. (1997), Communicated knowledge as a learning foundation, International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 5(1), 25-58. White, A. F. (1992), Organizational Transformation at BP: an interview with chairman and CEO Robert Horton, HR. Human Resource Planning, 15(1), 3-15. Wood, Chapman, Fromholtz, Morrison, Wallace, Zeffane, Schermerhorn, Hunt, Osborn. (2004), Organizational Behaviour: a global perspective, (3rd edn), Australia: John Wiley & Sons. Appendix Appendix 1 (Chen, et al., 2004) ?? ?? ?? ?? MGF5510- Organizational Learning 1 ...read more.

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