Utilising the Learning Organization for Management
Capacity Building at Makerere University
By Ronald Bisaso
Tampere University Press
Distributed by Coronet Books Inc.
$84.50 Paper original
This study sought to assist institutional management to revitalise their institution’s responsive capacities by utilising the learning organization concept. Retrospective and real time data were used, including documents, archival data, and semi-structured interviews were conducted with key informants at the organizational level and academic deans to ascertain subunit perspectives. Using a constructed learning organization concept, theory-driven analysis was used to analyse the documents and interview data.
The findings show that changes in legislation, declining funding to higher education and liberalization were significant in Uganda’s higher education environment. The strategic choices available to Makerere University implied that survival and adaptation were perpetual. Yet, given the existence of a fragmented organization, the responsiveness of subunits was bound to differ, reinforced by the power or influence of the various interest groups. Subunits in the soft-applied fields concentrated on compliance to academic quality demands, and structural parameters related to financial management. Subunits in the hard-applied fields were largely inclined to engage in national development. Through the use of institutional research, incompleteness of information was an effective management tool although the knowledge and skills of institutional researchers was at the lowest tier of organizational intelligence. Moreover, the information needs of academic deans related mainly to management and were less strategic.
The learning organization concept illustrated a responsive university as an open system, as a cybernetic organization that defines what is essential for its survival, and in which organizational learning is integral. In such an organization, information is used to detect and correct anomalies, knowledge creation alters mental models and a double loop learning organization evolves incrementally.
The study recommends that the responsive capacities of institutional management should be systemically revitalised taking into account the dynamic relationships between external contexts, unit- specific interests, and organization-wide practices. This should entail capacity building for prospective and incumbent academic leaders and managers, entrenching institutional research at all organizational levels and improving the competence of institutional researchers.
Higher Education Finance and Management
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